It’s only in fiction that you see characters that work alone – we all need other people in our lives. Even Sherlock Holmes (who can arguably be called the least social character to grace the pages of literature) had Dr. Watson. Regardless of how brilliant you are, your well-being and success partly depend not only on the relationships you have and maintain but also on how long you make them last. This might seem like a simple task; after all, we are social as a species. However, the skills needed for sustaining and building better relationships are not innate, and need special focus and consideration.
Some suggest that Golden Rule (from Luke 6:31 in The Bible), “Treat others how you want to be treated,” as a good pointer towards the way you should behave with people. However, let’s not forget that not everyone is the same – what you may like might not be what someone else does. Hence, you’ve got to keep in mind a few points that will help you preserve and enhance the relationships you have as well as build new ones. So, clear your mind and give the following seven tips a read!
People often do not understand that there is a big difference between listening and hearing. Listening is an active process, where you’re paying attention to what the other person is saying in close detail. However, while the other person is speaking, most of us often start to formulate a response before they’ve finished. This leads to a gap in communication, as you’re likely not to have completely understood what they were trying to convey.
When you find yourself doing this, mentally take a step back and try to zero in on what the other person is telling you. This will allow you to adequately respond to them once they’re done. After all, it isn’t a race. A pause in the conversation can be a good thing and is a key to successful relationships.
2. Know What To Ask
Once you’ve become adept at listening during a conversation, you’ll tend to know what to ask. It’s constructive to repeat back what the other person is saying to reaffirm what you’ve understood. That way, they’ll know that you’re making a sincere attempt to comprehend them.
The renowned podcaster, James Altucher, suggests that you get specific with the questions you ask (1). When people are telling you something, they’re likely to have a lot to unload. Asking them particular questions allows the conversation to be filtered from all the noise that would otherwise be present. This is a great way of building a relationship, and they’ll likely to seek you out to converse instead of most other people.
3. Look For Nonverbal Cues
In the 1950s, the researcher Albert Mehrabian found that only 7% of what we say has an impact. 38% is tone, inflection, and other vocal aspects. But more importantly, 55% is nonverbal (2). Just looking at a person can tell us a lot about how they’re feeling. Enquiring about their well-being, when they’ve given you no verbal cue to doubt it, shows that you are paying attention to how they are instead of just what they tell you. Who doesn’t want that?
This will also help you in deciphering when someone isn’t really telling you the whole story – if their body language doesn’t match what they’re saying, something’s up. Following this, you will soon find that you will have more meaningful conversations and deeper relationship with others.
4. Remember What Others Find Important
Aren’t we all a little bit narcissistic? Who doesn’t want to hear the sound of their own name? So, when someone tells you something about themselves with a beaming look on their face, pay attention. You will be extremely well-liked and well-received if you are the one in the crowd who asks about their child’s school play or the new car they’ve bought.
It isn’t essential to know everything about them; after all, you’re not courting them. But the little things, such as their name and their hobbies, will take you a long way in building better relationships. It has even been suggested that one maintain a written portfolio of important contacts, so that you have something to refresh your memory before a meeting.
5. Manage Emotions
There are a lot of things that affect our temperament from day to day. It is impossible to be consistent in your demeanor all the time. However, a little bit of stoicism can have a huge impact. Every now and again, swinging from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other will lead to people to think you are very inconsistent. This can be a very unattractive quality. Try to maintain your composure at all times and direct your concentration towards the other person, instead of being lost in your own ruminations.
However, there are times when something really bothers us, which we just cannot keep inside. This is the time when you ought to just tell the other person what is going on instead of pretending to be concentrating on what they’re saying. Honesty is appreciated, and will allow you to get the space you need.
6. Timing Is Everything
It is imperative of you to keep this one in mind if you are to know what makes a good relationship. We’ve all come across people who want to tell you everything about themselves the moment they meet you. But how pleasing is it to talk to someone who genuinely sounds like they have the self-control of a tippler? You ought to make sure you stay relevant in a conversation – Know when to speak, and when to reveal things.
Nevertheless, this cannot be universally applied – you shouldn’t have the same level of comfort with someone who you’ve known for years and someone who you’ve just met. The depth of the relationship should let you decide what you should say. So, don’t be afraid to hold back; expressing emotions is how we associate with others. Just make sure you don’t try to one-up on them with experiences – your own revelations should come from a place of empathy and not competition.
7. Be Positive
Positivity breeds positivity and it is the very essence of successful relationships. You are likely to see that those with a great set of relationships are those that spread good vibes. They are likely to keep your confidence and are not prone to gossip. They always mean well, and genuinely want to see people succeed.
Socializing is an art that takes time to master. These points will help you avoid the most common pitfalls that people encounter. Keep them in mind, and you will incrementally get better. Soon, you too will be the social animal that we are all destined to be!
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