Building Closer Relationships Starts Now
Is there anything more important than our relationships? Nope! So, why do we neglect them or allow them to die on the vine? I can tell you for me it's just laziness. I take them for granted because I think, hope, and believe they'll just always be there. The problem is that isn't true.
Just look around at the broken homes and families and it's plain to see that relationships die if we don't work on them. If I neglect my wife...she might leave. If I neglect my children, they will grow distant and might not want to see me when I get around to wanting to see them. If I neglect my friends...they will simply find other friends who give a crap. So, NOW is the time to start building closer relationships. But how do we do that? Keep reading...
Here are the 5 steps to building closer relationships:
1. Give Them Your Commitment
So, this might sound simple, and it is...but real relationships take commitment. How many times have you said to someone "let's get together for lunch or coffee"...and it never happens? Why? Because you or the other person never made the commitment. Too often, it's just a nice idea. I'd "like" to get together with them, but is it important enough for me to pull out my calendar and actually fire off that email to schedule a date?
When we get married, we make a commitment to the other person...at least that's the plan. It's when we don't honor that commitment that things often start going bad.
So, regardless of which relationship you need to improve, you have to implement step 1 and get committed. Make it important enough in your mind and soul that you'll make this happen no matter what...for the very reason that it IS incredibly valuable to you and truly the most important part of your life.
2. Give Them Time and Attention
Once you have committed, it's now time to follow through with the plan. I've found that the best way to connect with someone is to show them my sincere interest and ask questions.
Seriously! Have you ever spent time with someone who talked constantly about themselves and never once asked about you and your life? I think we all have. It feels like a very one-sided relationship and leaves you feeling unimportant to the other person. Don't be that person.
Instead, get outside of your own skin and get curious about the other person and their life. Ask questions as a sincere form of discovery. You'll be learning a lot about them and the relationship will blossom.
3. Give Them Your Focus
There are a lot of distractions in this world. We have a ton of stuff competing for our attention. I'm not just talking about social media and electronics. I'm also talking about chores, hobbies, work, errands, grocery shopping, paying the bills, etc. With all of those things pulling us away from deep relationships, threatening to swallow us whole, we have to fight to remain focused on what is truly important.
So, one practical way to stay focused on our relationships is to say "NO!" to more stuff. This gives you room to say "YES!" to the other person. When you focus on this, you'll find more time is available for them and the relationship will move forward.
Also, when you do get together for some quality time, make sure you are still focusing. Your phone might ring. You might get a text. Or that ever nagging notification beep or light will call for your attention. What better way to express to another person how important they are than to completely ignore all the buzzing and beeping going off around you. With that kind of focus, your relationship will thrive!
4. Give Them Consistency
Ok, now here's where it gets hard. Consistency is important. Just like a diet or new habit, it's easy to do this stuff in short bursts with laser focus. But relationships are more like an ultra-marathon than a sprint.
Part of your commitment in the relationship should be to maintain it over the long haul and be consistent. How many of you would get married if you knew your partner was going to leave after 1 year? How many of you would invest time, attention and focus if you knew the other person was planning to move away very soon and likely never return? An immense value in relationships is the trust that the other person will always be there for you, just like you are there for them. It helps to be reliable and consistent.
So, when thinking of your relationship, make sure you reserve frequent blocks of time together. If you use an electronic calendar, schedule time with them on a regular basis, just like any other appointment you might commit to. Then, honor that appointment and defend that time with them against other competing interests. Bottom line: make consistent time for the other person and you'll witness amazing growth.
5. Give Them Love
Without love and relationships, life would be devoid of meaning. One of my pet peeves, and I'm guilty of it as well, is when we treat strangers better than we treat those closest to us.
To strangers, we simply try harder. We smile more. We say thanks and please. We are more forgiving. Bottom line: we are often more loving to strangers because we don't have to live with them and slowly become aggravated by their personality quirks...like we all have.
So, my challenge to you is to love those closest to you like a stranger...but even better. In other words, be on your best behavior and treat your spouse, children, or friends like you would like to be treated...with lots of grace, understanding, empathy, forgiveness, compassion, etc.
Truly LOVE those closest to you and those relationships will improve and grow.
So, what you are waiting for? Building closer relationships starts now!
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