Friendships are some of the most treasured relationships you can have – your friends are there at crucibles in your life, as well as during all the joys. Having strong relationships has also been known to help with stress, depression, anxiety, and overall wellness in an individual. All of this is why it is so important to consistently nurture and work on your relationships so they can deepen and grow. Here are seven tips to help you improve your relationships.
1. Be Present
It sounds simple, but in this day in age when we are all so connected and dependent on technological devices, it can be hard to unplug and focus on the person in front of you, instead of the network within your phone. Make sure that when you are with the person you are scheduled to meet, you’re in the right place emotionally, mentally, and physically, to be in the moment and open to the interaction taking place.
2. Choose Kindness and Compassion
Humans are all very different and while it is a beautiful thing that we all have our own minds, ambitions, and opinions, it also means that we might not always see eye-to-eye with one another. When you come to a point in a conversation where you become frustrated or agitated by something your friend has done or said, try to think compassionately and act from a point of kindness rather than anger or annoyance.
3. Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a strategy that is used often in counseling and conflict resolution. It essentially means that once you have finished listening to something that a speaker has said, you are then re-phrasing it in your own words. This helps to not only let the speaker know that you have heard what they have said, but it also helps them understand how you interpreted what they have shared with you.
4. Be the Friend You’d Want to Have
There is a saying I am sure we all know, and it is to ‘treat others like you would like to be treated’. Bear this in mind when it comes to your relationships. The best way to gain the support and love that you are seeking from others is to be sure that you are offering these things to them first.
5. Encourage Dreams and Pursuits
Dreams can often be an intimidating thing to share with others, especially if you are apprehensive or unsure of how or if you want to pursue this dream. Many people tend to shut down or criticize others dreams, so make sure that you are there to bolster and encourage your friend to pursue their passions. It helps to know you are supported in times of change or trial.
6. Limit Your Expectations
A main reason people often become irritated or upset with a friend is that they might expect too much or their expectations might be unrealistic. For instance, you might expect friends to remember important dates in your life and bring them up, to be the first to call on your birthday, or even simply thank you for the kind gesture you did the last time you were together. It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and no one is going to do exactly what you think they should do.
7. Overlook Shortfalls
Regardless of who we are, we all have our own sets of positive and negative qualities. You are bound to find a mannerism or characteristic of your friend that you upsetting, but if you value their friendship you will want to overlook and eventually accept these shortcomings.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff is trained in Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology and holds two practices in New York City. If you are looking for more information about building healthy and strong relationships, please feel free to contact us via email.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff