How To Get The Right Relationship (and Why It Matters)
“Relationships are like magnets— they move things along, but they don’t change them. If you want to get something good from your interactions with other people, you have to find the right one.” -Steve Fidler, coauthor of Real People Are Hard To Find, in an interview with Harvard Business Review. This statement has been echoed throughout history and continues to be true today. For example, a common “right person” is found when you meet someone for first impressions, or when you meet someone to talk shop and get to know them, or while hanging out at work, talking about work or your family members. But no matter where your relationship begins, it’s helpful to cultivate what some call the “right person” (or lack thereof) mindset. Here are four tips on finding those who will become your friends:
1. Try to make yourself more open to learning about others and their lives. We all have different ideas about how to live, and we all have different jobs, different lives and different interests. So try to understand their challenges, interests, thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams and desires. Listen to what they say and feel what they want instead of just hearing what they’re saying. Learn about their favorite things and their hobbies. When they tell you that they wish they had more time for fun, make sure they’re actually having fun when you’re together. Don’t just follow the conversation or listen to whatever their latest news story is.
2. Use questions instead of statements. Instead of asking “How are you?” ask a question. Ask “What are you thinking right now?” or “What’s new to you today?”
3. Practice empathy. Take the time to get to know someone else’s feelings, or even just get to know themselves by doing things like this:
-Listen to the way they talk
-Keep eye contact (so you can see their eyes)
-Ask them questions. Is there anything wrong with me today? What has I been happy about? Can you tell me what’s making you sad? Could a problem at home be solved with your help? Do you need to cancel that meeting for next week’s vacation? When I do my best to understand you, how do you usually?
-Listen to whatever you want to say, rather than just hearing what they want to say.
4. Know your goals and your values. Some goals and values include staying organized, being dependable, keeping up with deadlines, helping others, or just spending time with your family. You might try to keep these values going, especially if you’re not getting enough time. However, if you’re constantly struggling, feeling frustrated or wanting to change your life, you could lose some of these goals.
Have some realistic expectations. These expectations should be about what you’ll get out of a friendship. A friend who wants a quiet place to think, a friend who wants to grow and learn and improve, a friend who wants to build lasting relationships instead of superficial ones. Keep these expectations flexible. Maybe even expect to go over to visit a friend for dinner instead of taking them out for drinks. Or maybe you want to spend time together during a long vacation with the kids instead of simply checking in.
If you don‘t have any clear expectations, focus on what you can enjoy. It’s okay to want something different from life in order to keep moving forward. Embrace trying “new things.” They’re exciting, and can always lead us back to our past successes. In addition, try not to pressure yourself to grow into something if you don’t have much of anything to show for yourself. Spend lots of time alone so that you feel closer and happier. Make plans for future trips by imagining all the wonderful places you can go with your friends. Remember to enjoy the small things and the little things. Even if you end up seeing another person for just a few hours a day, remember to enjoy them as much as possible.
Make space for other people. While your friendship may not involve living or working together, it’s important that it feels special. Set aside a specific date and time for each other. Call or video chat every once in a while. Cook together (at least twice annually). Go for a walk in public. Plan to visit relatives in town. Think of ways to create a sense of togetherness by planning activities. Look out for each other, and take turns, instead of rushing together on the same boat to save the children after a disaster. All of these can be very enriching memories.
So let‘s see who comes your way! Let’s take care of each other and each other’s needs through our connections. Good luck in connecting!