Relationship Skills for a Better Life

Since you do not live in a vacuum, you are surrounded by a wide variety of people who add color and depth to your human experience, how you manage these people (or how they manage you) are based on your relationship skills.

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes from spousal, cohabitation, familial, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Sometimes, family (our closest relationships) are the most difficult to manage.

Probably, the most important skill you can have in managing your relationships is communication. How adept or inept you are at demonstrating your communication skills can have a huge impact on the relationships you manage.

It’s pretty apparent if you possess pathetic communication skills. For instance, people constantly misunderstand what you’re trying to say, you are prone to get into heated debates (even though you may feel like you’re winning), and your emotions run high when you are talking to someone about something that is important to you (and more likely, not positive emotions). Is it any wonder people are less likely to want to be in your presence?

By building your relationship skills, you can develop deeper, more meaningful relationships, which promotes more success, abundance, and happiness in your life.

Some things you might consider in building your relationship skills might be,

When a conversation is heading into difficult territory, avoid bringing up the past. By staying current, you and the other participants are less likely to be defensive of fill like they’re being attacked.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What might it look like from their point of view, having lived the life they’ve lived? Sticking to your guns, and not allowing someone to see, think of feel differently, only causes separation, while allowing people to be who they are creates more affinity.

Pay attention to what they’re saying. Use active listening skills by repeating what they’ve said in your own words to acknowledge them and let them know you’re understanding what they’re saying.

When somebody says something that is contrary to what you might believe, or you’re feeling criticized or challenged, don’t ready yourself for a battle. Try not to be so defensive, and respond with an affirmative, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And if they try to pick a fight, don’t let them drag you into destructive banter. Stay your ground and remain positive.

Give up the idea of winning and seek ways you can arrive at compromise. Finding a way to compromise means “everyone wins.” Avoid win/lose conversations or situations, and don’t settle for win/lose compromise where one party is making all the concessions. Make sure both parties give-in and both parties get some of the important things they wanted.

If the conversation is getting heated and emotions are rising, take a break. Agree to do something else for a pre-determined amount of time and return to the subject at hand, after taking a break, when you are refreshed and can revisit the topic with clear heads and hearts.

Blaming someone never accomplishes anything but causing more division. Find ways to take responsibility for whatever you can. This helps to relieve the pressure, plus it gives you more control, the more responsibility you take. Why? Because you’re the only one who can control you.

If you think things are getting away from you, then seek a coach, counselor or consultant who can advise and act as a mediator to break through any barriers you may be facing.

Make time to cultivate your relationships. Don’t let texting or social media be your only connection method. There’s nothing that compares to authentic face-to-face time. Create opportunities for more in-person conversation, leading to a deeper, more meaningful connection.

It’s not just enough to be in the presence of someone, like at a movie, or a conference. Make time for a little face-to-face interaction before, after, or during breaks to communicate and interconnect directly.

If you’re not in the habit of it, be bold enough to freak out your friends and family by calling them via voice phone (no texting allowed, here) for no other reason, just to say, “Hi,” without any agenda, other than to let them know you were thinking about him or her.

If someone is important to you, let them know, even if only in some small way. Send them a note, or some small token of your affection, thanking them for being a positive influence in your life. These people help give your life meaning.

If your relationship is built on a foundation of love, don’t be afraid to let them know, if not by words, then by touching them appropriately while communicating with them, or greet them with a light hug or some other appropriate gesture.

Weave Your Own Web Around the World

We’re all here, players in each other’s life dramas. In some ways we’re all one and in others, there’s really no one but you. And it’s all true. How confusing is that? The best you can do is to play along at the best of your ability.

So, play along, reach out and be a connector. Find ways to connect with other people and find ways to connect others to each other. Be a web weaver of the world.

It all stats with you, so get out there and start networking (and overused word, but adequate). This is a great excuse for you to get out and start connecting. As you connect, try to get to know about something significant about that person, what is their gift, calling, or at the very least, “what do they do?” Care enough to get a way to contact them, even if you aren’t able to see a need of their services for you.

Because as you weave your web around the world you are able to connect people with one another, stretching your web of connectivity throughout the world. Being a connector is invaluable. Some of my favorite people are massive connectors. Be a connector.

Reaching out to people face-to-face is by far the best way to meet people because it helps you get past the superficiality of a person’s cover story. Certainly, there is a wave of acceptance that comes from social media interaction, but still this is only superficial. An authentic connection can only be made hand to hand, eye to eye. Even video chat can’t compete with that.

Think about it… Are you more likely to feel as though you know someone if you’ve met them face to face, or viewed their facebook or linkedin profile and exchanged a few messages or emails?

You want to make yourself available to the people you meet. Doing so without expecting anything in return. For instance, if you meet someone who needs a publicity agent and you introduce them to someone you’ve just met who is one of the best in their field, and you connect them. They go on to do great things in the world, and they don’t forget what you did for them.

This endears them to you, and they will feel a sense of wanting to return the favor someday. It’s just the nature of being a connector, if you’re not using your connectivity as a method to manipulate others, because this energy will be felt by heart-centered individuals, and this will actually repel them from feeling a sensitivity towards you and your cause(s).

When you’re fortunate to get to meet someone face-to-face, get to know them at a deeper level. When I am blessed enough to meet someone, I try to find out more about them than is represented on their business card, web site or facebook profile. You don’t get this chance every day, find out where their heart beats.

Connect like-minded people. As you get to know people better, you’re more able to interconnect them powerfully, heart-to-heart. People who are connected, working together, who share a similar vibrational resonance will far outperform non-like-minded individuals trying to work on a project.

Reach out to other connectors who are also building their own webs of connectivity. This can expand your connectiveness exponentially. Social media is an excellent method to find other connectors, but remember, if you really want to connect, seek a way to get face to face, and offer them your best, expecting nothing in return.

Connections fade away if they are not nurtured, so stay in touch and create opportunities to connect even more with your people. You cannot survive in a vacuum. Check in with them without being salesy or spammy. If you’ve connected with them authentically, your people will want to stay in touch.

As your network builds, calling on the phone becomes less efficient, and I think your people understand this, so it’s okay to reach out in less effective methods, like via email, or private message. They will understand, but still want to keep in touch.

If you’ve connected people, and things don’t work out, offer to lend a hand in making things right. This will turnaround a potentially tragic scenario into a massive, “save,” and you emerge the hero.

Be dependable, reliable, authentic and integrous in all your interconnectedness while web weaving all around the world.

Want to meet people? Be the creator of opportunities for face to face interconnections by creating your own social and networking events. Get out there and create your own events. Yes, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on a posh event, but you can charge or fundraise to support the overhead. Just make sure you over-deliver.

And once you start – don’t stop. Everyone is watching you, to see if you’re inauthentic, or just out to promote yourself or make a fast buck. No, give, give, and give… and keep giving. It takes a while to build trust among your people, especially those in the fringe, who are considering moving through the crowd to get to you.

Stay on the task and keep weaving your own web around the world.

Communication and Connection

We are, all of us, ingredients of the human soup. There’s no formal step-by-step recipe, we’re just all lumped together into the boiling pot of life. How do you like that?

All of us are ingredients in different soups, all simmering throughout our lives, and some of us have many soups simmering throughout our days. There’s the home soup, the partner soup, the work soup, the travel soup, the school soup, the news soup, the friend soup, the shopping soup, the spiritual soup,  the community soup, the world soup… it goes on and on. You’re managing more soups that Campbell’s.

If we’re all going to be in this soup together, don’t you think we should find ways to interact with each other while we’re in the soup together?

No matter what kind of soup you’re in, your ability to effectively communicate with the other ingredients in the soup can lead to the creation of the best tasting and satisfying soup experience.

To better communicate with people, try not being rude. If you’re in the habit of interrupting or finishing sentences for someone, try letting them finish their own sentences. When you cut them off, they may be reluctant to re-engage and you may lose creating a connection with this person. Let your conversation be inviting and encouraging the other person to expound on their thoughts and reach even deeper in their relation to you. Not cutting off someone mid-sentence or thought, invites them to be more open, creating an environment for greater connection.

While you’re not interrupting, you might consider really making the effort to listen intently to what they’re saying and indicating you are listening by not only acknowledging you are listening, to verify by feeding what they are saying back to them. When you’re actively listening in this manner, you are less inclined to be thinking more about what you will say next. When you’re not actively listening, you may only be picking up key words and phrases and planning your response. Not listening intently could have you missing something of importance.

Don’t let your thoughts drift off or otherwise disconnect from the conversation. Even if you disagree with what the other person is saying, let them say their piece. Don’t take a defensive position and let them know you have respect for their point of view.

Try to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground by resisting the temptation of exaggerating opinions, circumstances of facts in an attempt to gain control or superiority when engaged in a difficult conversation. Don’t use exclusive hyperbole such as, “You never,” or, “You always.” Rarely, if ever, are these exaggerated claims ever true.

Seeking to affix blame onto someone else, only distracts from the ability to resolve or come to a logical conclusion in any circumstance, while setting the base tone of that conversation in a negative vibration from that point forward. You can only change or affect anything that you take responsibility for.

When you are conversing and potentially creating a connection with someone resist the temptation to reach into the past bringing up and breathing life into otherwise dead issues. Try to keep your conversation current, in the present tense. Anchoring people in the past is far from the integrous intention of focusing on the now. Often the past casts a haze on the clarity of what is transpiring today.

No one’s position has ever been converted by debate. So avoid this type of adversarial conversation at all costs. All debating does is to bolster and further solidify the other person’s position while promoting separation. Keeping the conversation open, honest and permeable fosters an environment where people are willing to let down their guards, and allow the conversation to reach a deeper level of connection. In this state, people are more vulnerable and may be more open to new ideas, or even question dogma.

Surrender any inclination you might have to win in any conversation. Always be open to the idea that your desire is to arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution without causing emotional distress. Honor what the other person has to say. Let your conversation be fueled by love and mutual respect, not the need to dominate the verbal exchange or to be the winner (which implies that the person you’re talking to is the loser).

In the event that things are getting emotionally charged, tense or heated, take a break. A brief time out can be appropriate and allow each of you to re-center yourselves. You don’t necessarily have to break exposure to each other completely (like leaving the room or taking a walk) as this might look like abandonment. Instead, think about offering to change the subject completely to something you both can enjoy taking about while agreeing to resume the difficult conversation following the brief recess. Approaching a difficult conversation after a break can help to let parties think more freely and openly when their emotions aren’t overriding their ability to effectively communicate or connect.

If you have differing points of view, honor the other person’s point of view. Think about it; don’t you want the other person to honor and respect your point of view? Of course, you do. So, doesn’t it just make so much sense to treat the person with whom you are trying to conversate or connect with the same respect? It’s up to you to set the proper environment of respect and potential connection. Certainly, you need to be able to express your opinion or offer you unique perspective or share your concerns, but do so motivated by love, not aggression.

I am regularly remembering the advice of Steven Covey, to “Always seek win-win,” (habit #4 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) in any conversation. By applying these methods of effectively communicating and connecting via earnest conversation, everyone wins, no matter what soup you’re in.

 

Organic Conversation

We are unique life forms on this planet, with the ability to conduct incredible internal processes of thinking and maintaining energetic connections and we are so blessed to be able to exchange thoughts and ideas with each other via interpersonal communication. While we are learning that everything living (and elemental, which does not appear to be alive) maintains an energetic communicative connection, we possess an expanded capability for maintaining connection and communication via language and conversational speech which increases our ability to have even more meaningful relationships.

The ability to converse one with another brings the world together, and when I meet someone from India in Las Vegas and we can easily communicate because we speak the same language, the idea that “it’s a small world after all” resonates so clearly in that moment.

So, doesn’t it make sense to use our skills of verbal communication as much as possible?

With the proliferation of cell phones and their ability to exchange texts and images, our ability to communicate via the spoken word is diminishing. It might be time to review what your cell phone use says about you and consider reaching out to others in the 3-D world, it doesn’t take much effort at all.

If you look up from your phone, you might be surprised to see the myriad of opportunities available to practice your gift and skills of conversation with another human being, even though the tendency is to look up from the phone and avoid connecting with another person, even if it means fake texting or communication via your phone (fubbing).

I mean, you could practice your skills of verbal communication with inanimate objects, like (and you might have to start there, or you already be talking to your) stuffed animals, trees or rocks but they’re unlikely to respond to you in conversation. If they do, that is a conversation of a different type we can talk about later. And while you can talk to your dog, cat or other pet, it is still unlikely you will be able to hone your skills of interactive communication much.

So, think about putting your phone away and look around. I was in line at the store yesterday, and everyone in line was on their phone except for a young man with an armload of spinach. I might not have even noticed the boy if I was engrossed in my phone waiting for my turn to pay the cashier for my groceries. It turns out he was an 11-year-old grandson, running errands for his grandmother so that he could earn money to get a new video game. When I mentioned that he and I were the only people in line without phones, he said the only reason he wasn’t on his was because it was in his pocket and his hands were full with spinach for his grandma.

You could spark a two-way communication with as little as a, “Hello,” spoken to another person, though you run the risk of being snubbed (or fubbed) if the person is on their cell phone. It can be difficult to break through to interactive verbal communication with someone who has developed a dependency with their phone.

How does this happen? It starts with having the basic need of feeling connected to other human beings, so we text someone, comment or post a status update on social media. When we get a response, view, like or share, a shot of Dopamine is administered to our nervous system which makes us feel good. The feel good part is good but the downside of Dopamine is that along with it comes a craving, a need to have more. This is how Cocaine, or any other addiction, works inside our physiology.

Thankfully, reaching out via interactive verbal communication does not carry with it the same addictive quality but does satisfy our need for connection, so it might be worth giving it a go. If you try it, you might like it.

Try taking advantage of the many opportunities you have each day to strike up an organic conversation with someone you pass by on the street, or have a bit of fun with the cashier at the checkout stand. I love watching the expression of cashiers who are surprised to have someone actually try to engage in a brief conversation while they are trying to conduct their business in a trance state. Often their job requires they greet you as part of their compulsory duties, little or no response is necessary or expected. It breaks them right out of their trance when you respond with a complete sentence, or better yet a question. Try this live, unrehearsed organic form of entertainment… plus you will have connected with someone (even if only briefly) and may have even lightened someone’s workload that day.

While it is difficult to compete with the addictive qualities of our electronic devices, finding healthy ways to reach out in organic conversation can help enrich the quality of your life and potentially have a positive impact on the life of someone else.

The key is in the doing of it. Simply decide to start small. Leave your phone in your car while you shop. It will be there when you get back. This is a good place to start, to see if it makes you more aware of the real world full of people looking to feel connection (not the superficial faux-connection offered by our electronic devices) and connect a little bit. Just see if you can make eye contact, smile and say, “Hi.” You can feel the connection, even if that’s all there is to it.

You can ramp up the intensity, if you dare, by finding something about them (or what’s in their basket) to comment or compliment them on. If they take the bait, now you’re exercising your ability to engage in organic conversation. Congratulations.

To increase the quality of your organic conversation, think about engaging the energy of your heart in the communication process. If you have a general feeling that you have concern and/or genuinely care about the person you are talking to, they will be able to feel it in your words. And if you can maintain eye contact and pause to intently listen to their words as they speak, this intensifies the connection even more.

All it takes is a little practice and, who knows? You may find yourself not bringing your cell phone to restaurants or meetings. The possibilities are endless.

We are the only life form on this planet with the ability to experience real connection in face to face interactions with organic conversation. Let’s not let technology take it away.