How Strong Interpersonal Relationships Help You Grow
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach | Life Strategies & Stress Management Coaching
If it is true that we're the average of the five people we spend the most time with, we should probably all take a closer look at who those people are!
It is true that we are all influenced by the people in our lives. That influence starts at a very early age. Consider how we are all affected by our parents, for example. They shape and form us from the very beginning.
A familiar saying is taken from a poem by John Donne: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
And it is true. We are not like an island sitting out in the middle of nowhere. We are part of a greater whole. We are also social creatures, and we need other people for our social and emotional well-being.
It is also true that it depends on who we hang out with most as to whether we can achieve our highest dreams. People can hold you back from being your best self and reaching your full potential.
We need others to encourage us to reach our highest aspirations. We need a support system of family, friends, colleagues, teachers, classmates, and others. Indeed, strangers can inspire us and keep us going even in tough times if we meet them at the right time.
What Are Interpersonal Relationships?
Interpersonal relationships are formed with those who are connected with you. They range from your coworkers and acquaintances to close friends. They include loved ones, partners, and those you share a history with. When two (or more) people have a mutual affiliation or a social connection, it becomes an interpersonal relationship.
Tips to Form Better Interpersonal Relationships
Kindness is the first ingredient needed when forming an interpersonal relationship. No one wants to create an attachment to someone who isn't nice to them.
Unfortunately, many people don't know how to interact with people socially. Perhaps they didn't have good role models growing up. Or maybe there is something else going on with them that keeps them from forming healthy attachments.
If you suffer from an inability to form healthy bonds with others, you might want to consider some of the suggestions below on how to create good interpersonal relationships:
Be More Open
Life is all about give-and-take. So don't always be overly guarded about sharing your opinions, emotions, and experiences with others. Your willingness to let others in is what makes people open up to you.
You don't need to go overboard, of course. But being authentic and vulnerable attracts people to you. On the other hand, putting on airs and pretending to be perfect all the time drives them away.
Maintain Healthy Boundaries
I have talked about this a lot in many different posts. This point transcends the one above. The fact that you're advised to be open doesn't mean you should set no boundaries. Any strong relationship must have healthy boundaries.
You can be honest and vulnerable without giving away your own time, space, and need for privacy.
Practice Active Listening
Your ability to listen is one factor that determines how effectively you communicate. A relationship without good communication is destined for trouble. So learn to practice active listening.
You do that by engaging, reflecting, and asking questions. These practices send the message that you care about the person speaking. You demonstrate interest when you actively listen. That, in turn, makes them want to listen to you.
Here are some tips for active listening:
· Rephrase what the person who is speaking just said to you
· Ask open-ended questions that require more than "yes" or "no" answers
· Maintain good eye contact while listening
· Avoid being judgmental or opinionated
· Avoid interrupting while the other person is talking
Always Show Respect
Everyone wants to be respected, including you. It is a fundamental human need.
But what is respect?
Respect is a way to show appreciation for other people's interests, time, opinions, and feelings. You never belittle anyone because that isn't respectful.
Empathy is all about feeling someone's pain as if it is yours. People with empathy can see things from other people's points of view. They can put themselves in other people's shoes.
Empathy improves mental health. It promotes cooperation and kindness. Empathy helps to improve closeness, trust, and understanding in a relationship.
Here are some other tips you can make use of to improve your interpersonal relationships:
· Speak in ways that show you understand and validate their feelings
· Always be honest and truthful
· Appreciate and accept honest feedback
· Work on bolstering your listening skills
· Try to show that you care with your words and deeds
· Earn their trust
Why Interpersonal Relationships Matter
Interpersonal relationships are vital for our overall success. We need each other to thrive and excel, so we must value our relationships. We are reminded that we need to treat people better.
There are many psychological and physical health benefits that interpersonal relationships offer. They are...
· Improving longevity of life
· Decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease
· Lowering the risk of suicide and depression
· Fostering resilience to stress
· Combating loneliness
You're more likely to be more inspired to engage in healthy behaviors when developing strong interpersonal relationships. For example, research shows that people generally take better care of themselves if they have strong interpersonal relationships.
When Relationships End
Relationships are essential in our lives. But that doesn't mean that you must be involved in all relationships. Some relationships are unhealthy, including the painful and the toxic ones. If you're involved in a toxic relationship, you need to let them go. Accept that not all relationships are meant to go on forever.
There are many examples of relationships that are only temporary. For example, your relationship with teachers, a healthcare provider, or coworkers is likely to end at some point based on your life's circumstances.
Death, relocation, divorce, and breakup are other reasons some relationships end. It's advised that you talk to your therapist or doctor if you find it challenging to cope and move on after the loss of an interpersonal relationship, regardless of the reason.
Now that you understand the benefits of developing strong interpersonal relationships, next week, I will be offering strategies for releasing negativity and stress.
Until next time.