At the end of the day—or life—we all agree that there are only a few things that really matter in life. And at the top of that list is our relationships with others.
Too often we get distracted by things that aren’t truly important—money, technology, fame, possessions, activities, just to name a few—and we forget to focus on what ultimately adds the greatest value to our live: people.
We have all types of relationships in life. Close, intimate relationships with people we love, often family members and treasured friends. Business and professional relationships. Casual acquaintances. We even create quick, short-term relationships with strangers. Regardless of the level of interaction—whether it lasts seconds or a life-time—we can do a few things to make those relationships positive and meaningful.
Check out these five relationships tips:
We all have a basic need to be heard and understood, yet few of us have developed the innate ability to listen. We’re usually too busy thinking of what we want to say next to really listen to what the other person is saying. When you talk to people, pay attention to what you’re thinking about—and make sure you’re focusing on what the other person is saying. There’s no greater way we can show we care than by listening to what people are saying.
Asking people questions about what they are saying goes hand-in-hand with good listening. When we ask people thoughtful, compassionate questions, we are letting them know we listened, we care, and we want to understand. When people sense that we are sincerely trying to understand them, they tend to share more, strengthening the relationship and making it even more valuable.
When appropriate, be willing to open up and share. Part of building strong relationships is letting others get to know us and trusting them with who we are. Of course, not every relationship calls for a deep level of trust and sharing, but our strongest and most valuable relationships are those where we love and we know we are loved unconditionally. And that kind of relationship is created when we share ourselves.
We are all on a journey of becoming better people, and we do so by learning and changing. The best way to learn how to become better is through relationships. As we get to know people and let them get to know us, we often get to know ourselves along the way. As we do so, we can identify things we want to improve, things we want to change, and things we want to eliminate.
Make your relationships matter. Nobody on their deathbed has ever wished they’d spent more time at work. If there are any regrets, they are most often that more time wasn’t spent with people. Makeyour relationships a priority in your life and on your calendar.
The wisest people are those who understand that relationships are what matter most in life. And not just any relationships, but strong, health relationships that are built when we listen, ask, share, and learn.