Creating great relationships is easier than you think. The best relationships follow these ten basic rules the relationships that struggle don’t. Countless people minimize these rules, rationalize breaking them and even outright mock them. The more people push back against these basics, however, the more difficult their life is likely to be.
Get back to the basics:
1. Be present. You have to actually show up to have great relationships. Showing up requires your undivided, mental, physical, and emotional attention. Being present is not simply being in the same room, house or space as another. Presence requires fully participating in the discussions and day-to-day interactions within that space.
2. Listen. When a loved one is speaking to you, listen to the meaning and sentiment of what is said as well as to the actual words spoken. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and attempt to see things from their perspective. Listen to understand what drives them, scares them, worries them, and jazzes them. Relay your understanding via your response.
3. Practice accountability. Inherent in humanity is imperfection. You will make mistakes, as will those around you. Great relationships require that you own and repair your mistakes while also holding others accountable for owning theirs. Not owning your mistakes makes you difficult to be in a relationship with. Not being able to hold others accountable for their mistakes, results in you being taken advantage of and treated poorly. Master accountability.
4. Apologize genuinely. The idea that, “love is never having to say you’re sorry” is one of the stupidest ideas around. Of course, you have to say you’re sorry—you’re not perfect and never will be. Your actions will hurt, disappoint, or challenge others, and when they do, apologizing is part of being a grown up. Pretending you didn’t make a mistake doesn’t fool others into believing that what you did was okay. It only shows the other person that you’re too fragile to own the mistake. When you screw up, which you will do, apologize genuinely (with humility and compassion).
5. Be respectful. Love cannot flourish in an environment without respect. Yelling or swearing at someone or calling others names because you’re angry or upset is not okay. Great relationships are, at their core, respectful even in the most difficult of times. If you can’t control your anger, contempt or meanness, then you will not be able to create great relationships. Too many people normalize yelling and verbal abuse. The truth is: not everyone yells, and nor should you. Clean up the disrespect.
Relationships are hard when you don’t live by the basic ground rules. When you think it’s okay to lose your cool, make fun of others, work all the time or barely engage on a real level with your loved ones, you make being in a relationship with you difficult at best. It doesn’t matter if in your household growing up, your parent was never home, there was often screaming in the home and you all made fun of one another yet, “everyone grew up just fine”; those behaviors harm relationships. Similarly, pleasing everyone, ducking from confrontation, and being “nice” because that’s what you learned growing up, also harm relationships.
Too many people dismiss these rules as ridiculous, Pollyanna or unnecessary. Dismissing the basic rules of relationships leads to unhappy marriages, divorce, and broken friendships. Learn to live by them rather than brushing past them.
Challenge: If your goal this next year is to create great relationships, start by using these basic rules as your foundation.