Do you feel like your relationships, personal and professional, are suffering?
Are you constantly in conflict with others?
The truth is, fostering healthy relationships requires work and commitment.
Whether it’s with a parent, colleague, or even friends, there are steps you can take to improve your connections with others, which as a result, will improve your quality of life.
So, if you’re ready to get on good terms with those around you, keep reading. In this article, we’ll cover 10 ways to build better relationships with both loved ones and co-workers.
1) Learn how to communicate clearly and honestly
If you can get this down, your relationships will improve significantly! Communication is at the heart of how we get along with others, so without it, it’s incredibly hard to foster meaningful connections.
So, how can you improve your communication skills?
- Practice active listening. This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
- Maintain eye contact and avoid interrupting
- Speak honestly and clearly (don’t beat around the bush)
- Ask open-ended questions to foster conversation
It might seem daunting to start this process, especially if you have people in your life who struggle to communicate openly.
For example, if your father is known for bottling up his emotions, you might need to take small steps to encourage him to open up.
Getting to know the people around you will help you judge best how to approach them in conversation, and my next point will give you a helping hand in creating a safe, non-judgmental space:
2) Practice empathy and understanding
Empathy, in a nutshell, is being able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else to truly understand what they’re going through.
The truth is, a lack of empathy tends to be the source of many arguments and tension!
Your friend has had a tough day at work. Instead of taking the time to hear them out and try to understand where they’re coming from, you brush off their concerns and tell them, “It’s life”.
Recipe for an argument? I think so!
Try this the next time someone in your life comes to you with an issue:
- Try listening without judgment
- Ask them plenty of questions so you can better understand them
- Don’t assume you know how they’re feeling
- Offer comfort and sympathy
And one final tip, if you want to build better relationships with friends, family, and coworkers – not every problem needs a solution. Sometimes, people just want a friendly ear to listen to or a compassionate shoulder to lean on.
Be there for those in your life, and your relationships will naturally improve!
3) Show your appreciation and gratitude
Want to know another way to build better relationships?
Show your appreciation for those around you!
With a colleague, it could be as simple as a coffee and a note on their desk thanking them for their help on a big project.
With family or friends, you might want to treat them to a nice dinner when they’ve helped you with decorating your new apartment.
But showing appreciation and gratitude is also a daily practice, and it all starts with saying, “thank you”.
So, why is this so important in relationships?
Acknowledging people’s efforts is a brilliant way to foster positive relationships.
Well, when we show gratitude, we make others feel valued. They know their efforts aren’t in vain or being taken for granted.
4) Offer support
And whilst you’re showing your appreciation, you should also extend the favor back by giving your support and encouragement to those around you.
For instance, your flatmate is hoping to get a promotion and it requires them to work longer hours.
Rather than simply wish them luck, why not pick up a few household chores so they might relax at the end of their hard day?
The point is, verbal encouragement is great, but taking action is far more effective in showing people how much you care!
The more you can make people feel supported, the more they’ll trust and open up to you. If both parties can do this for each other, you’re on track to have an excellent relationship!
5) Make sure to spend quality time together
In the busy world we live in, it might feel difficult to spend time with your loved ones.
But this is why we need to make it a priority.
Don’t wait for the next free weekend to go out with your friends, or take your parents out for lunch. You could be waiting a long time!
Make a conscious decision to dedicate time to your relationships, even if it means rearranging your work schedule.
When we spend quality time together (and by that, I don’t mean sitting in front of the TV not communicating), we get to know each other better.
Not only that, having fun together can do wonders to improve a relationship.
And when it comes to your work colleagues? Don’t be afraid to invite them out for a coffee or a game of tennis on the weekend.
Getting to know them outside of work could help you understand them better when you’re at the office (and let’s face it, getting along with your team will make your life much easier).
6) Be reliable
Now, another way to build better relationships with friends, family, and co-workers is to always be reliable.
Put simply, stick to your word!
If you promise your sister you’ll take her to the doctor, show up on time.
If you agree to host the next meeting at work, don’t cancel at the last minute.
People will trust you far more if you’re reliable and they know that you’ll always come through on your commitments.
And the more you do this, the better your relationships will be. Those around you will respect you, and as a result, they should return the favor!
7) Let go of grudges
Let’s talk about forgiveness…
Some may say that to forgive means to forget, but I don’t agree.
I think forgiveness is something we do for ourselves as much as for the other person. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to excuse bad behavior!
But if you really do want better relationships, holding onto grudges won’t help.
Here’s the thing – we’re all human and we all make mistakes. A lot of it will come down to misunderstandings and bad communication.
If you can work on communicating better, and improve your empathy levels, you may find it easier to understand why people do the things they do, and how to move forward from such situations.
8) Respect people’s boundaries
And set your own!
Boundaries are incredibly important when building better relationships, and they work both ways.
Your boundaries tell people how you wish to be treated. An example of this might be:
A conversation with your mother about how she always criticizes your home.
Asking her to refrain from doing so because it makes you uncomfortable is setting a boundary, if she keeps disrespecting that boundary, you may decide to stop inviting her around.
So, whilst it’s important to stick to your boundaries, you must also respect the boundaries of those around you.
If a friend asks for some space, rather than take it personally, give them the time they need and when they’re ready to talk, you can discuss the situation calmly and without anger or judgment.
9) Be open-minded
A lot of what we’ve discussed already comes down to having an open mind and being willing to consider different viewpoints.
You may not understand all of the boundaries people put in place, but regardless, if you want to build better relationships, you need to be able to respect people’s personal decisions and keep an open mind.
But that’s not all…
Having an open mind will open you up to trying new things and hearing different ideas. When you foster a mindset like this, it’s much easier to get along with people.
On the other hand, remaining stuck in your ways could make you appear difficult or closed off.
For example, your child tells you they want to travel the world. This might seem scary to you, and your first instinct could be to tell them not to go.
But this would only crush their dreams and make them feel disappointed.
Instead, discuss your fears but offer your support. Try to understand why they want to travel and how you can best help them achieve their goal safely.
Doing it this way will mean they leave for their trip feeling loved, heard, and supported, rather than resentful!
10) Cultivate self-awareness
And finally, if you want to build better relationships, you need to start with yourself!
Get to know yourself by understanding your emotions and triggers.
Not only will this make it easier to navigate your relationships, but you’ll be able to resolve conflict faster.
A co-worker makes a comment and you find yourself reacting negatively. If you don’t know your own triggers, you’ll likely take it out on your colleague, even though they weren’t aware they said anything hurtful.
But if you practice emotional intelligence and understand your feelings, you’ll be able to take a step back, think about why you’re feeling triggered, and recognize it’s not necessarily the fault of your co-worker.
Think how many conflicts this could save you from!
Now, we’ve covered 10 ways to build better relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. There’s a lot to work on, but take each point step by step.
And remember – no relationship will be perfect. Arguments and misunderstandings will always arise, but it’s how you deal with them that’ll make the difference!