Remember as a child when you worried about how many friends you had? You didn't really consider what were meaningful relationships.
Most children have had this concern at some point. For you, it might have happened during your early childhood, when you didn't get selected for the playground group. Or perhaps, as a teenager, when you felt like you didn't measure up to what "all the cool kids" were doing at school. As you get older, you realize at some point, there are different types of relationships.
Everyone wants meaningful relationships, but what exactly does that mean? Is it the same for everyone? And how do you create and nurture them?
There is no question that a meaningful relationship takes more time and effort than a casual friendship. Some people have a need for a very wide circle of friends, but form a close bond with a select few. Other people prefer fewer friends with whom they devote quality time.
Some people seem to have a natural ability to attract others. They are outgoing and receptive to new people. Some of us, on the other hand, struggle to attract and keep people in our social circle.
I remember my Mom telling me that friends are "fickle," and that family was a more reliable or important source for meaningful relationships. However, my mother and I had very different experiences regarding family, so that was not true for me.
We did agree, though, that meaningful relationships took time and effort — and Mom instilled some very important lessons about how to foster quality relationships in my life.
1. Focus on making people feel good in your presence. The way people feel about you is a reflection of how you make them feel. If someone feels interesting, confident, and capable when they are with you, they’re going to enjoy being with you. If they feel insignificant, unintelligent, and anxious around you, they will want to avoid you. You can learn a lot about how to treat people by asking yourself what you like or dislike about certain people.
There is truth to the Golden Rule: "Treat people the way you would like to be treated." Click to tweet
2. Be a great listener. One of the simplest ways to make others feel important is to give them your full attention when they are speaking. Ask questions. Show you are interested in their life. Also, there is nothing worse than multi-tasking when someone is talking to you. Put your phone away. Do you want a relationship with your phone or the person in front of you? Lastly, be careful about how you deliver "constructive criticism," especially if it’s unsolicited. The key word here is criticism, and it tends to sound negative to some degree, no matter how you disguise it.
3. Be reliable. Mom drilled this into me, and I have certainly emphasized the importance of this in my own children. Of course, we can have different ideas about what reliability means, but one of the most important principles is that we treasure those we can count on.
4. Keep the lines of communication open and frequent. The quality of communication is often related to its frequency (but not always). Sometimes, you have special friends with whom you can pick up where you left off with meaningful discussions, despite great distance and time spent apart. However, for the most part, relationships need to be fostered -- and that means regularly. Don't wait for the other person to maintain contact. Remember, you want the other person to feel great!
5. Share experiences together. Quality time means shared activities and interests. Determine what you have in common and put your energy into that. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries, and being there for someone when they are struggling or hurting is an invaluable way to show that you care.
6. Provide support and acknowledgment. This is pretty simple: What’s important to the other person? How can you help them succeed?
7. Be positive. Let's face it, we all prefer to be around happy people. There's nothing wrong with feeling depressed or cranky sometimes, but if it becomes a habit, it's time to get some help. Everyone deserves to enjoy life, and that includes you and your friends. Don’t be a downer!
Showing you care can be easy. Show a sincere interest in others, be open, maintain regular contact, and focus on making the other person feel good about themselves.
These are a few key tips for fostering meaningful relationships in your life. You can apply them to your intimate partner or your close friends. When your relationship experiences a hurdle — and every relationship will.
1. How do I make my friend feel special?
2. Do I listen carefully when he or she is speaking? Am I distracted or thinking of what I am going to say or do?
3. Am I reliable? Do I do what I say I am going to do?
4. When is the last time I spoke with my friend? When will I make time to reach out?
5. What activity can I plan for us to share?
6. What project is my friend working on and how can I give support and encouragement?
7. Am I fostering a positive experience when we are together? How can I express my best intentions?
It's natural for us to see the fault in the other person whenever we experience hiccups in our relationships. Quite frankly, we all have a blind side when it comes to self-examination. But every challenge is an opportunity for growth, and that is what meaningful relationships provide — growth.
Who would you like to reach out to today? Are you still hesitant or skeptical about your ability to form meaningful relationships? I'd be happy to chat with you about that. Reach out to me and let me know your concerns. Together, we will find a way forward. Just select the link below and schedule a complimentary SOS breakthrough session. It may not seem like you need an SOS now - but why wait until it happens?
I look forward to speaking with you.