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.

Basic Social Skills

Your interactions with other people can have a huge impact on how long it takes you to get from point A to point B at various junctures along your life’s journey. If you possess a degree of anxiety when interacting with other people regularly, it would behoove you to exercise your social muscles.

Strengthening your social muscles can be a little intimidating, at first and can be likened unto going to the gym. If you’ve never been to a gym, just getting yourself to go there in the first place can be a challenge. Once you step inside, you are greeted with a maze of equipment and people who are clearly more adept at using the equipment, especially considering you’re a complete novice. Nonetheless, you survey the landscape and select what you’ve determined to be the piece of equipment that might be the easiest for you to adapt to then as you build confidence, move onto other equipment. Before long, you’re engulfed in full circuit training.

Here are some tips to start exercising your social muscles while smiling (yes, by all means, smile.)


You may notice the first three steps in establishing rapport are commonly used by cashiers at the store. It is common practice for retail establishment to require their line staff to acknowledge their customers by greeting them with some form of “Hi,” following up with an inviting, “How are you?” and thanking them for their patronage.

You could start with any one of these first three interactions.

You could start by expressing gratitude. A simple, “Thank you,” will help to break the ice. It makes the person you’re directing it to feel appreciated (good) and your reward is receiving the sense that you can visually see and emotionally feel a change of countenance as his or her spirit is lifted, if even the only slightest bit. Good job.

Moving on, you can have a lot more fun with, “How are you?”
I find that most retail staff will say “how are you?” out of habit and generally do not expect a response. This is a great place to practice your social skills. A simple acknowledgement of your state of mind (which I prefer to keep positive) like, “I am having a great day.” Followed by, “How are you doing?” They are often surprised when someone asks them how they’re doing and may not have even noticed they asked you how you were doing first, because they do it out of habit in a kind of trance. Your showing an interest in them breaks them out of the trance. Its quid pro quo, they’ve asked you. You responded. Now, it’s implied that if you ask them, they must break state and think for a second in order to muster some kind of conscious response.

How much fun is that? You’ll be surprised at the responses that will be elicited, and if only for a moment, you not only exercised some social skill building for yourself, you have rescued someone from the doldrums of an otherwise unconscious/robotic state of mind.

Now, the third part – saying “Hi” to a perfect stranger – might be the hardest of the three initial components. Besides, weren’t we told since we were very young, not to talk to strangers? Well, you’re older now, and though I am encouraging you to speak to strangers, I still suggest that you not take candy from them or get in their cars, etc…

Some people are a natural at it, like my dad who greets everyone with a smile. He’s the best Wal-Mart greeter of all time because he’s so darned good at it. He has since retired and continues to hone his skills throughout the day, and enthusiastically at church.

Q: Why talk to strangers? A: Because you don’t know who they are.

If you’re on your path, going from point A to point B, the universe may be vectoring all kinds of assistance to expedite your journey, so they will begin appearing all around you. Since you may not know who these people are, they will likely be strangers.

If they were not intended to assist you – no problem – you may have made the world a better place, just by greeting a stranger. Your smile and brief interaction may have been at just the right time and place for that individual. It may save their life.

Want to kick it up a notch?

Use their name

In business environments, this is insisted upon for line staff in high-end environments. It is not uncommon for employers to send in undercover potential clients to look for these basic components. If an employee excludes one of the components, the employer may release him/her on-the-spot if they demand a high level of customer service from their employees.

Nothing is sweeter to a person’s ears than the sound of their own name. If you can obtain and use their name in even the briefest interactions, you will make the world a better place.

Okay, we’ve got your foot in the door of the gym. Keep on the lookout for more workout routines to come.

Top 5 Social Skills for Success

There is no doubt that in business, or nearly any area(s) of life, those who wield the best interactive social skills have a huge advantage over those less adept at social interaction.

Some people are born with it; others make the effort to develop these social skills to increase their advantage in the world as we know it. It really all comes down to economy of effort, meaning that the most successful people are able to accomplish so much more in much less time.

Top 5 Social Skills for Success opportunity assessment brand integrity persuasion blend in emotional connectionThe best equipment you could have at your disposal would include these top five specialized social skills tucked away in your tool belt:

  1. Opportunity Assessment
  2. Brand Integrity
  3. Be Persuasive
  4. Blend In
  5. Emotional Communication

Opportunity Assessment

This ability would be considered self-serving by most of the general populace, but being able to quickly identify people to interact with that can best benefit you is a key skill that should be mastered by the successful businessperson or entrepreneur.

Think of it as having two minutes to make the determination whether the individual will be beneficial to you, your professional concerns, or may have skills that will help you to further your purpose.

You must always be polite, never rude, as you quickly express your purpose and try to learn as much as you can about the other person, limiting yourself to your 30 second elevator speech, then ask questions to determine whether there exists a potential opportunity.

Brand Integrity

Take care when interacting with others in the boardroom, in public, from the stage, during interview and face-to-face to stay congruent to, promote and protect your brand. Be cautious.

For some people, it is the person that is their brand; their name, their appearance, their convictions and public persona. Whenever possible in all the things you say and do, be consistent to the image that you want to be remembered as.

For others their brand may be a product or service. Do not expose behind-the-scenes information or data that might reflect poorly on your brand. This means that some topics may need to be avoided in order to protect your brand.

Be Persuasive

One of my mentors insisted that, “salesmanship,” and/or persuasion was the single most important skill to possess if you intend to enjoy any level of intentional success.

Obviously, having the ability to promote and sell your perspective, product or service on-demand can have huge impact on your overall success.

If you’re not born with a persuasive personality, this could be (and often is) the most challenging skill to adequately wield, as it can be the double-edged sword that improperly used could actually backfire and cost you a sale, potential client or cause people to question your motivation. This is a delicate balance that takes both balance and practice. You don’t want someone to remember you as the pushy salesperson or jerk.

Nevertheless, you must be able to encourage others to see from your perspective, whether they are friends, potential fans (who will promote you and/or what you do), customers or clients.

Blend In

This is the ability to relate to anyone on their terms. That means, regardless of whether you are speaking to a group of people or in a one-on-one conversation, you have the ability to see from their perspective, being thoughtful enough to use a similar style of speech (as long as it does not interfere with your brand).

Not just for those with political aspirations, being able to blend in is skill of adapting to any unique social setting and maximizing one’s exposure without standing out too much and being mindful of brand protection.

Emotional Communication

Interact with people in such a way that demonstrates that you are compassionate and passionate with a full array of emotions, communicating with feeling. When active in communication use voice inflection that enables your audience to perceive that you are enthusiastic, confident and competent.

People love emotions and they listen for your emotion in your vocal interactions with them. Speak from your heart to theirs, making an intimate connection.

If you feel as though you do not possess this skill, you can practice, practice, practice with a simple audio recorder. Practice reading and talking using a variety of vocal styles. If you have young children, reading children’s books and stories and vocally representing the voice of different characters is perfect practice (plus your kids will never forget your story-telling abilities).

How to Build Your Social Skills for Success

The best way to start building these skills is to start hanging out with other folks who already possess the skills you desire. Keenly observe them and model their behavior. Go to seminars, events and watch videos of live presentations. Study how others perform their social magic, take notes and practice doing what they do.