We all want healthy relationships with the people in our lives. We want to make sure that our relationships are something that we can be proud of and find fulfilling. The question is, how do we do this when we are so busy with the pulls of life? How can I make sure that the people I am interacting with also feel as if their connection to me is one of respect and kindness, even if I can only give them a few hours of my time or even a few minutes? Below are four concepts to keep in mind in order to foster healthy relationships.
Respect – This refers to the respect you have for yourself as well as the respect you have for others. You may not always agree with another’s thoughts or decisions but when we provide general respect we can maintain the relationship. Here are a few things to keep in mind when focusing on respect:
- Think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. If you are feeling angered or hurt in the situation allow time for everyone to take space so that everyone can speak from an emotionally regulated point of view. This also allows for you to say the things you want to and to avoid making judgmental comments or things that can be hurtful.
- Allow boundaries to be established and respect one another’s boundaries. This means that you are allowing each person to have a say with what they would and would not like in the relationship.
- Provide your time. Even if you are a busy person with a full schedule there is always time to be present in our relationships and respect the other persons need to talk or desire for connection.
Communication – This may seem like an obvious concept when considering healthy relationships. However most people only consider the talking aspect of communication and forget about the other factors that make up healthy communication. These factors include:
- Active listening. This means turning off or away from technology and other distractions and providing the other person your full attention. This means making eye contact and being mindful of your non-verbal gestures. For example make sure you are aware of your stance, are your arms crossed, are you turned away, rolling your eyes, or sighing? All of these things may suggest you are not interested into what is being said.
- Reflective Listening. This refers to the ability to repeat back and summarize what the other person is saying. Reflective listening allows for clarification so there are less misunderstandings but also shows the other person you are listening to what they are saying and you have value.
- Consider what you are asking for or of someone else. It is best to be specific and articulate your needs. No one is capable of mind reading and so if you are not asking for what you need, it is hard to be surprised when you don’t get it.
Trust – Means to place confidence in another person as well as their intentions and actions. If this is something that may be lacking in your relationship I often say it is best to get to the root of the problem by working backwards. It is important to understand why you have lost trust in another or why they may no longer trust you. After that work has been done it is best to clear the air and move forward. It can be difficult to gain trust again in a relationship and it’s been my experience that by acknowledging one own transgressions a foundation can be reestablished. Then it is about allowing room for trust to grow and recognizing its value in a relationship.
Honesty – I know, this is so closely related to the previous concept of trust. It’s true to have trust there must be honesty. However there must also be trust in the relationship in order for someone to feel as though they can be completely honest with someone. It truly is the argument of which came first the chicken or the egg? Whichever you determine came first they are both important to foster in you relationships.
When considering these four concepts they may seems similar and connected. Often when one of these values is missing in a relationship it is almost always true that the other values are missing or at least being questioned. My advice is to sit down and consider the most recent interaction and determine what specifically was missing and how it can be addressed. Often it can be as easy as acknowledging that value is no longer clear in the relationship and working together to on getting back to the basics.