Six Tips for Building Strong Relationships

I received the inaugural issue of Self Improvement Magazine the other day.  If there’s anyone who can benefit from some self improvement advice, it’s me. 

I was impressed with Self Improvement.  I particularly liked an article by Lisa Brooks Kift called “10 Characteristics of Successful Relationships.”  Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become an interpersonally competent person, you need to be able to build mutually beneficial, long lasting relationships with the people in your life.  You also need to know and understand yourself, and have the ability to resolve conflict in a positive manner.

Lisa is a couple’s therapist.  Her article is slanted towards building a strong relationship with your partner.  Some of these, like sexual intimacy and physical affection are not a good idea for relationships with your coworkers and clients.  However, a lot of them are right on target for building strong relationships at work. 

Here is a sampling of Lisa’s characteristics of successful relationships (at home or at work) with my comments on each…

  • Friendship – When you think of the people in your life as friends, it’s easier to build strong relationships with them.  Friends go out of their way for one another.  Strong relationships are built on the willingness to give without the expectation of getting anything in return.
  • Humor – If you can laugh together, you can often defuse conflict before it gets to a boiling point.  While come conflict is inevitable, the more you can stop it before it starts, the better for the relationship.
  • Communication – When you freely and openly express your thoughts and feelings, you add to a relationship.  Open, honest communication is necessary for any relationship to grow and flourish. 
  • Chore Sharing – Working together brings people closer together.  There is a sense of shared satisfaction when you work with another person to accomplish a goal or complete a project.  This sense of shared satisfaction is a great relationship building block.
  • Avoid Criticism, Contempt and Defensiveness – Lisa describes criticism, contempt and defensiveness, along with stonewalling (refusing to engage with the other person) as the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” for any relationship.  Just don’t do them.
  • Reliability – Strong relationships are characterized by both parties' commitment to follow through.  Put simply.  Do what you say you’ll do, and your relationships will flourish.

The common sense point here is simple.  Interpersonal competence is an important key to success.  Strong relationships are a building block of interpersonal competence.  Here are six tips for building strong relationships.  1) Be a friend.  2) Lighten up.  See the humor in situations that might not appear funny at first.  3) Communicate.  Share your thoughts and feelings.  Listen to others as they share theirs.  4) Work together to solve problems and complete projects.  5) Don’t criticize, provide feedback.  Don’t be defensive, listen to feedback.  6) Follow through.  Do what you say you’ll do. 

That’s my take on how to build strong relationships.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and ideas on relationship building with us.  I really value and appreciate all of your comments.  As always, thanks for reading.


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