A simultaneously exquisite and agonizing part of being human is that our lives are filled with relationships. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, wives, friends, teachers, students, coworkers, bosses, employees … the list goes on and on.
Sometimes, these relationships run smoothly, effortlessly. Other times, the road is a bit bumpier, and we fall into ruts. If you’ve been wanting to connect better with someone or just create happier, healthier relationships, these easy tips are guaranteed to help.
Relationship Tip No. 1: Mimic the Other Person’s Body Language and Pace of Speech.
I tend to be on the slow side when talking – so when I meet someone who talks really fast, it makes me anxious. If I know she isn’t going to come down to my level, I make a conscious effort to try and bump it up so I’m on par with her. Conversely, when I catch myself talking faster than the other person, I take a breath and make an effort to dial it down.
We tend to feel more comfortable and open with people we view similar to ourselves. Our primitive brains are constantly assessing the world for threats. We subconsciously put up our guards more when we’re around unfamiliar people and situations. Mirroring the person you’re with helps you both feel more at ease.
Relationship Tip No. 2: Keep Your Hands in Your Pockets When Arguing.
Think about the last time you were really upset. Were you gesturing a lot? I thought so. We tend to forget just how powerful body language is and how much we rely on it for communication.
We use our hands to help us get our points across and to emphasize them, which is especially tempting when we’re arguing.
So, to interrupt this cycle, simply keep your hands in your pockets. It may look a little weird, and it will probably feel even weirder. This is a good thing; it will force you to slow down and choose your words carefully.
Relationship Tip No. 3: Remember Your Manners.
I remember a few years ago when I was in the MBA program for a hot second and I was in class where we were going around the room introducing ourselves. The number of people who were texting away on their smart phones while someone was talking stunned me.
When did this become acceptable?
Not only is it just plain rude, but it also signals to the other person that you are not interested in what they have to say and are not worth your time.
Also, the phrases, “May I …”, “excuse me”, “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome” are still very much alive and well. They’re not just for acquaintances; family members appreciate them, too.
Relationship Tip No. 4: Give Random Acts of Kindness.
Dole out little love notes to your spouse or kids. Pick up coffee for your coworkers and boss. Everyone loves a pleasant surprise. Don’t do it all the time, though – you want to keep this special and unexpected.
Relationship Tip No. 5: Fess up Quickly When You’ve Made a Mistake.
When you put off owning your mistakes, it breeds mistrust. The same goes with lying or shifting the blame. Apologize quickly and learn from what you did wrong. Then, move on; don’t dwell on it.
Similarly, when someone else makes a mistake and has swiftly and sincerely apologized, don’t hold it over that person’s head. Move on; don’t dwell on it.
Relationship Tip No. 6: Listen Without Interrupting.
Listen, listen, and listen some more. If you are doing anything other than giving your full attention to the person (aka: watching TV, surfing the web, texting), you are not listening.
It sounds so easy, but it’s amazing how many people are terrible listeners. When people know you’re really listening to them, they feel understood and validated.
What’s your best tip to improve any relationship?