As is my custom, I like to take some time to reflect on my relationships, consider where they are, whether they are healthy and thriving, what needs work, what needs repair and even whether my and the other person’s lives are just so different now that we have sadly drifted apart. A relationship health check, if you will.
It is only as I have grown older that I have learned to appreciate the importance and role of healthy relationships in my life. Healthy relationships not only increase our emotional wellbeing and bring stability to our lives but also teach us how to love and be loved, give us room to be ourselves and to learn and to grow as a person.
Apart from my husband and family, I am privileged to enjoy friendships that have spanned more than 25 years, having stood the trials of life and the test of time, interspersed with long periods of geographic separation. There are also those relationships that are not as long in duration yet just as close, bringing me so much joy and adding so much richness to my life. Some I have met through marriage, family, and church, others through varsity and work.
But as many of you know, relationships take work and need time invested in them. How that looks will be different for everyone and every relationship but what it means is that we need to be intentional about our relationships, if we wish to see them thrive.
According to Lolly Daskal, a leadership coach and business consultant, the quality of our lives is directly related to the quality of our relationships. She suggests eight simple ways we can ensure that our relationships at work and at home are thriving:
- Make a dedicated time for those who matter.
We should set time aside every day to show someone in our lives that he or she is a priority
- Attack the problem, not the person
When problems arise, as they inevitably will, take time to understand the problem as well as the person, instead of placing blame, with a view to resolving the situation together
- Be the most positive person you know
(Daskal argues that positive people are grateful people and so are better able to appreciate others for who they are.)
- Never jump to conclusions
Rather than respond immediately out of our own prejudice and biases, it is wise to wait for more information so that we have the full picture and thereby avoid jumping to false conclusions
- Underpromise and overdeliver
We can show people that they are important to us by following through on our commitments and doing or giving more than what was expected of us.
- Communicate candidly and honestly
Good communication comes with practice and allows each person a time to speak while the other listens.
- Be passionately appreciative
Everyone needs to feel appreciated so we should be generous in our praise and appreciation of others.
- Connect through service
If we want a relationship to last, we need to view it as a place to give rather than as a place to receive.
As believers, we know that our most important relationship is with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the friend who sticks closer than a brother. When we invest in our relationship with Him, we are better able to build healthy relationships with others.