Over the years, I've received a lot of advice from friends and family, trained professionals and books on how to get along with others and build strong relationships. Most of it is insightful and effective but when I'm caught up in the moment, I find it hard to apply what I've learned. This is especially true when it involves a multi-step process.
After analyzing many methods and experimenting in my own interactions, I've found one simple guideline that has helped me enhance every one of my interpersonal relationships
This simple easy-to-remember tip is:
Make the other person feel significant
No one likes to feel small and most conflicts occur when you make others feel unimportant whether you intend to or not. If you think back to situations that make you angry or frustrated, it mostly likely stemmed from someone disrespecting or dismissing you. Road rage is a perfect example of this.
The key to getting along with almost anyone is to avoid actions that diminish others and replace them with actions that build up others.
Here are some behaviors that break down relationships:
- Acting annoyed
- Rolling your eyes
- Sighing audibly
- Clicking your tongue or sucking your teeth
- Being disrespectful with your words or actions
- Not paying attention to someone who is speaking to you
- Using a condescending or patronizing tone
- Raising your voice
- Being unresponsive
- Undermining others
- Speaking negatively of others
- Unfairly criticizing the other person's attributes, actions and efforts
- Sabotaging someone's project or reputation
Now that you know what behaviors to avoid, you can strengthen you relationships with these actions:
Pay Attention Fully
When you interact with someone, give them your undivided attention. Don't look around to see what else is going on or check your phone or watch. Take time to listen and respond accordingly to show you're engaged. Make the other person feel like they're the most important person you're meeting with that year.
Get Insatiably Curious
Nothing will make someone light up more brightly than showing genuine interest in them. Be curious and ask specific questions based on what you hear. The more questions you ask, the better the interaction will go but keep in mind that you must be sincere. If you try to fake it, people can tell. Express real enthusiasm to be with this person.
When possible, show that you consider the other person remarkable. You can highlight the great work that they're doing, compliment them on specific past achievements or let them know how grateful you are to spend time with them. Find opportunities to speak highly of this person to others as often as you honestly can. One trap to avoid is making others feel more important by putting yourself down. This is never helpful so it's critical that you lift others up in a way that respects everyone including you.
It's not hard to get along with others.
Make them feel important by showing them that you value their time, knowledge and experience. A good rule of thumb is to treat others like you would the CEO of your company, President of your country or someone you truly admire. Think about how you would act if you met with these individuals.
I'm sure you would probably:
- give them your full attention and all the time in the world,
- be curious about their lives and
- find opportunities to compliment them and their work.
If you act this way with all your relationships, you'll see some great results.
I've found this guideline to be especially helpful with those closest to me - my family and particularly my parents. Growing up, it was easy to take them for granted since they uncomplainingly put up with my disrespectful ways. By applying this simple rule, our relationship has never been better.
Lastly, this guiding principle will work wonders for the way you interact with yourself. Think of your daily self talk and apply this strategy. Stop being unfairly tough on yourself and find ways to pay attention to, elevate and promote yourself in an authentic way.
I hope this simple tip will serve you as effectively as it has served me.
What simple and effective guidelines do you use to live your best life?
Please share it with us in the comments section below.
Photo by Martina Lanotte
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.