Build and Maintain Strong Relationships

Businesses often talk about the importance of “networking” or having connections with many people that allow you to reap some kinds of benefits. But what about networking outside the business world? The relationships we establish with everyday people (family, friends, romantic partners, co-workers, etc.) are just as if not more important, yet often we think about them less. This article focuses on the importance of building strong relationships in everyday life by focusing on the 4 pillars of a strong relationship: communication, respect, enthusiasm, and trust.


Communicating Effectively

  1. Talk frequently. This may seem obvious, but taking the time to talk with someone shows them you like them. The people we talk with most frequently are generally the people we consider ourselves to have the best relationships with.
  2. Talk face to face. According to Forbes Magazine, “being able to see a person’s body language, facial expressions, and gestures makes a world of difference in building a relationship.” This is because talking face-to-face communicates more information to us faster than words ever could.
    • By utilizing body language, tone-of-voice, and social context, the speaker’s true message can be sent more efficiently. In this way, communication is enhanced, misunderstandings are less frequent, and relationships become built on strong foundations.
  3. Try to be as good of a listener as you are a speaker. Some people consider it more important to be heard and contribute to a conversation. Others believe it is more important to listen than to speak. Simply put, they are both wrong.
    • Speaking and listening is equally important in any conversation. If you spend too much time talking, you won't ever hear what the other person in the relationship has to say. Similarly, by spending too much time listening, you won't have any of your opinions heard. Conversations are meant to be a two-sided discussion.

Building Strong Relationships

  1. Accept change. How often have you lost a close friend because you “just grew apart”? It's common to lose contact with people as we get older and our interests change, but some relationships are strong enough to survive this test of time. This is because these relationships are not based primarily on common interests.
    • Shifting the base of the relationship to something a bit deeper, such as an admiration, or an appreciation for that particular individual allows one to accept small differences in interests, likes and dislikes. By focusing the relationship on the other person and not the things associated with them, we gain the ability to respect them and their individuality.
  2. Treat people with respect. “Relationships function like a mirror--eventually that change will reflect back onto how you are treated.” -Lolly Daskal, President, and CEO, Lead From Within. This quote is pretty self-explanatory. There is no quicker way to weaken a relationship than by not being able to respect those around you.
    • Conversely, respect can be gained by being considerate of others. This does not mean you have to agree with everything your boss says or see eye-to-eye with your siblings, but being able to calmly acknowledge and set aside differences helps people overcome otherwise troublesome differences.
  3. Treat yourself with respect. If the other person in the relation doesn't respect you, it can hardly be considered healthy. However, many people find if difficult to respect those who cannot respect themselves. If you are able to stand up for yourself in difficult situations and express when aspects of a relationship are negatively impacting you, then you greatly improve communication in a relationship and set up a sturdier, healthier relationship dynamic. In this situation, both people are able to function independently but choose to work together, as opposed to one relying on the other to stand up for them.

Being Enthusiastic

  1. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. This is key, especially when it comes to building new relationships. This was already mentioned previously in this article, but the rise of technology has made face to face communication difficult, especially for younger people. According to a recent Gallup poll, texting is the most common form of communication for Americans under the age of 50.
    • Because of this, people are less skilled at asking others out on dates or scheduling hangouts with potential friends. However, if the relationship is truly something you want to pursue, start small, but go for it! Every relationship has to start somewhere.
  2. Try new things. While common interests shouldn't be the only thing sustaining a long term, deep relationship, it's a great place to start. Broadening the range of activities you choose to take part in increases the chance of meeting someone you connect well with. It also gives you more conversation starters and can cause people to perceive you as a more interesting, well-rounded person.
  3. Rebuild enthusiasm by remembering why you started a relationship in the first place. Are your relationships missing that “spark” they once had? Lack of enthusiasm is a sign your relationship is in need of a jumpstart. Often times, boredom occurs in relationships because you have grown used to being around the same person all the time. Remembering the reasons you initially chose to pursue a relationship can sometimes put things back into perspective.

Understanding Why Relationships Matter

  1. Understand that a network of good relationships makes for a quality support system. Life isn't perfect. Sometimes we are let down, put in compromising situations, or quickly expected to deal with unforeseen mishaps. During the difficult times in life, family, friends, and loved ones can all be counted on to lend a helping hand. They can provide advice, boost morale, and emotional or even financial support.
  2. Be aware that collaborative work happens in life, regardless of anyone's background. How many times have you been in a class where the teacher asked you to split into groups? How many times have you had to find a group in a class you didn't have any friends in?
  3. Focus on the big picture. Establishing strong relationships with people helps develop social skills and makes it easier to make friends. In fact, relationship-making has a huge impact on the development of children and adults. Developing friendships in a child’s formative years can affect their ability to share, problem-solve, and work as a team. Adults are also heavily influenced by the behavior of their friends and peers. Healthy relationships will facilitate healthy lives in the future.
    • There are countless other advantages to having friends and strong relationships. Here are just a few:
      • Gives a sense of belonging
      • Boosts self-esteem
      • Increases life expectancy
      • Reduces stress
      • Reduces Loneliness
      • Can reduce chances of developing stress-related illnesses