Relationships form an integral part of any individuals’ life and they inform us about our perceptions of our own self as well. For a large number of people the evaluation of their own goodness and being favorably liked by others tends to be derived to a large extent based upon their perceptions of how their relationships are. Thus, these become rather critical elements that define peoples’ thoughts and their sense of positivity about their own selves.
Given this premise of the centrality that is accorded to relationships by individuals, it becomes imperative that one derive strategies and ways of ensuring that these are built on strong foundational characteristics that would make them resilient and more permanent aspects of our life. It is never about having a plethora of acquaintances, rather it is essential to have a few very good and strong relational ties that go a long way in enhancing confidence and a sense of assuredness about the self.
There are some basic elements which if kept in mind can ensure that one builds positive and strong relationships and is able to enhance their quality to a significant level. These include the following aspects.
- Have open channels of communication. The more a relationship encourages sharing of experiences and conversations the stronger the foundation for it. It is critical that individuals’ in their relationships with each other are able to communicate freely and openly without any fear of being dismissed or rejected or being reprimanded for thinking or behaving in a certain fashion.
- Make honesty an integral element. Being open and honest is an essential aspect if one wants to lay a strong foundation for one’s relationships. Spaces where things remain hidden tend to only increase insecurity and create multiple doubts which is not good for any relationship and only leads to its breakdown sooner or later. Instead it is important to be able to share things in an honest manner such that there is no ambiguity of any sort.
- Learn to trust the other. Having trust is very important. Not being able to trust and needing to constantly monitor the people you associate with is very harmful for relationships. If you cannot trust the other person then the chances of the relationship lasting for long are bleak. Yes there can be reasons and situations which may make it difficult for you to trust the other person. But it is essential that you find ways in which the level of trust can be enhanced. This may require you and your partner to increase the level of disclosure in the relationship or willingly solicit more information than is typically seen. However, this is something which two people would need to decide on and work towards together and cannot be a unilateral process.
- Do not look towards what others have. A big mistake which people make is looking towards what others have and feeling terrible for their own selves on the basis of their perception of what good they may perceive in another individual or couples life. However, what appears on the outside may not necessarily be the fact and in essence it is possible that what you are perceiving is only a partial reality. Look towards your own self and determine individually what it is that would make you happy in your relationships and work towards your individual goals instead.
- Learn to give each other a lot of space. Giving people space is essential as too much enmeshment and intrusiveness only creates a feeling of being stifled. People in their relationships with each other need to be able to find the space and time to be able to do things and be on their own as well and not necessarily feel the pressure of having to do things together.
- Spend time doing mutually pleasurable activities. Frequently we can forget the things that make the other person who is with us happy. It is not about doing things which either one likes or the other. If you can determine activities and things which are enjoyable and pleasurable mutually it would go a long way in strengthening the relationship and enabling both individuals to feel connected to each other and having more positive experiences with each other.
- Be a listener. It is very easy to talk and express. What is difficult is listening. It is a simple word and seems like a rather simple thing to do. However, we frequently forget this small but very critical element in relationships. Listening is not about just sitting and allowing the other person to talk. Listening needs to be an active process which makes the other person feel that you truly are there in the conversation even though you may not be really contributing anything verbally. Your non-verbal language which is your posture, the gestures you use, your eye contact and other body language, would communicate to the other person that you are actively listening.
- Be sensitive to the others’ feelings. People tend to experience things differently and if we want to be effective in our relationships with others then it is critical that we be open to their diverse experiences which espouse feelings which we may not necessarily connect to at an individual level. Allowing the other person the independence to be able to feel anything, something that you do not necessarily connect to, makes them feel accepted and encourages them to share increasing amounts of information with you, which goes a long way in building a strong relationship.
- Show respect for the others’ perspective. Different people also tend to view things differently and it is important for us to be able to be ok with individuals having their own sense of what a situation means and is. Allowing them to have their own perspective on things is crucial in fostering a sense of independence while feeling connected to you. At the same time, it creates space for a dialogue which is equally important for relationships to grow and flourish.
Working on relationships is not easy and these basics also tend to be difficult to implement and follow. However, consistency of effort and greater awareness of what one does or does not do are the critical aspects for ensuring success in building better and more effective relationships.