Life is really about relationships, and happy is the person who understands this early. Here are a few tips on how to build healthier relationships.
Forgive quickly: Few people want to be around a person who holds on to grudges over a past wrong. We all have that friend or relative who is constantly talking about the negative thing someone else did to them. Most of the time we want to say, “Just move on!” Great relationships do not just happen. They require constant forgiving, giving each other the benefit of doubt and not holding on to past wrongs. In your life time, you will need to develop this skill if you are to find happiness. Remember, you do not have to ‘feel’ like forgiving someone, you just have to do it. Your feelings will catch on later. Do it for yourself. It has been said that having an unforgiving spirit is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
Be great company: People should not just have to be with you, they should want to be with you too. If you want quality relationships, you must become an interesting person to be with. You know, the kind of person that is interested in what other people have to say too. The kind of person who has some great ideas about how to spend a weekend. The kind of person who knows how to let loose and have a good laugh. The kind of person who loves people, not just tolerates them, is a giver and not just a taker.
Create boundaries: People will walk all over you, if you let them. It’s just another unpleasant aspect of human nature. And I’m not talking about people who do not like you. Your children will push the envelope and try to get away with murder. Friends may take advantage of your generosity. Learn to respectfully say “No” when your rights are being violated.
Honour people: No-one is a self-made man or woman. We all stand on the shoulders of others. Parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, co-workers. Remember to thank them for their contribution and honour them when you receive your recognition, Grammy Awards style. If you do not want to shout it from the mountain tops, an occasional card that says, “Thank you. I wouldn’t have made it without you,” goes a long way.
Be real: It’s hard to build relationships with someone who plays mind games, is dishonest or has an agenda. Being real is also about being vulnerable too, letting others see your weakness and allowing them to get close.
Make time: It’s easy to get busy with your career or business that you put your family and friends on pause, hoping you can un-pause them at a more convenient time. Human beings do not respond to pause buttons. They will move on without you, and all you will have succeeded in doing is teaching them how to live without you. Children will stop asking you to play with them. Spouses will find new hobbies to fill the void of your absence. Friends will make other friends. Eventually, you may get to that sad place in your life when you have time for them, but they have none for you. The thing with time is that it is limited. You only get 24 hours in a day. You have to deliberately carve out time with loved ones in your daily, weekly and yearly allocation. So make that call. Find that real friend from primary school on social media. Visit with your grandparents. Find the time.
Enrich people: Share ideas. Offer support in difficult times. Celebrate with them. Aim to leave them better than you found them. Investing in people will cost you. Usually it will cost you time. Sometimes it will cost you money. It will require you to call on your patience, wisdom and understanding. Fortunately the return on investment is worth it.