For some people, having great relationships seems to occur naturally. For others, it’s difficult to sustain them through the different seasons of life. For everyone, it’s a constant work in progress. Life gets busy and we have a tendency to fill our schedules with responsibilities weeks in advance. Relationships should be a top priority in life but for many people, they are often pushed to the back burner for various reasons. Maybe you’re an introvert looking for ways to meet people or maybe you need to start saying “no” to the wrong people and “yes” to the right people. Wherever you’re at in life, check out these tips for forming relationships that stick.
It’s important to guide and refine communication skills as we grow older for many reasons that span across our personal and professional lives. Whether that’s in-person or via the digital world – there are numerous ways we communicate. In relationships, communication is key. Whether with your boss, coworkers or significant other, if you aren’t communicating well, the relationship will likely suffer. The same applies if the other person is not communicating well with you. It’s all about getting into a groove that works for both parties. Take inventory of when you communicate best and how you do it – and work to replicate that strategy. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or maybe you’re more alert at night. It’s also important to be flexible and realize you might have to work with others to refine your own skills.
Meet People to Practice
In order to form and strengthen interpersonal relationships, you have to meet people. In our hyper-connected digital world, many of us go through our day stuck behind a screen and rarely have face-to-face conversation. If you are not outgoing and know you don’t feel comfortable around a group of people in-person– try something such as online gaming to meet others with the same interests and engage in regular dialogue. In fact, a recent survey of online gamers found that 44 percent of Fortnite players have met a close friend or significant other while playing the game. Of course eventually you’ll have to get out in the real world, but this can help you get over your fear.
Another great idea would be to go to a local coffee shop and either write, listen to music or play on your computer. You’re bound to talk to someone—if no one else, the barista! With a little routine practice, you’ll be glad you ripped the Band-Aid off and your relationships will be better off for it.
Make a Conscious Effort to Keep it Going
If meeting people is step one, continuing the relationship is step two. This typically requires a conscious and continuous effort by both parties. Hopefully, you’ve exchanged contact information upon the first meet, but if not, there are other ways to find a person (without being intrusive) and reach out. For many, it’s making the first step that seems scary but you’ll actually find others are thinking the same exact thing. With relationships, it’s important to keep trying. You shouldn’t go years without making any sort of effort to connect with someone, as that’s when relationships can and do fizzle out. Even if you are busy, prioritize your time for the relationships that matter – you’ll be thankful in the long run.
Prioritize Your Circles
Of course you are not going to click with everyone you meet and be lifelong friends. It can be a difficult concept to grasp as an adult but it’s ok to have different levels of friendships. The people in your inner circle are those closest to you – typically your partner or spouse, family and maybe long-lasting friendships. Your outer circle would include newer (or even older) friendships, your coworkers or your boss. As we go through life, people move in and out of our circles. It’s important to understand that you can grow in different directions and that’s okay.
Think of your childhood friendships. At the time, you probably thought they would last forever. But as you get older, your interests change, you might move away and life takes you on different paths. You don’t keep a lot of those friendships, and it’s okay. Learn to distinguish the difference between your circles and if one friendship just isn’t working out despite your efforts, maybe it’s not meant to be. You both have to make an effort for it to work.
Relationships can be very hard work but the reward you get from spending the time on them simply can’t be replaced.