Be it work, friends, or family, making a relationship work is hard. Creating a solid relationship isn't much easier. This lesson will point out the characteristics of solid relationships and some advice for developing and maintaining them.
We're pack animals. We're meant to live together in society. We're meant to depend on one another because it's impossible to go at it alone. Even the loner living on the side of the mountain in the U.S. probably got his jeans made by a worker in the Far East.
But living successfully in society is difficult. We must maintain our relationships between colleagues, friends, family, and romantic partners. That part is hard, and it's one reason so many wars have been started. This lesson, short as it may be, can probably be shown to a war-mongering politician or two as a refresher course on the characteristics, development, and maintenance of successful relationships.
Again, be this a friend, family member, co-worker, or the warlord across the street, successful relationships have a lot of important characteristics in common. Some of these are:
- Trust: There's a solid other lesson on this difficult concept you should watch, but to boil down that lesson's truly enthralling concepts into one short definition, trust is a confident reliance upon another person's characteristics and actions. An example of trust is relying upon your friend's class notes to study for an exam when you couldn't come in yourself because you were, uhmm, sick. Trust includes elements like honesty, support, and accountability.
- There's also effective and open communication, the ability to clearly express and understand one another's thoughts, feelings, and opinions, respectfully disagree, clarify, discuss, and be mindful of each other's needs. Communication is a big term for many different kinds of ways you can 'talk.' You can text your girlfriend as one way of communication, or you can talk to her face-to-face; each communication method has its pros and cons. Discussing emotional matters over something as cold and easily misinterpreted as a text message just exudes potential trouble. Thus, in that situation, it's not an effective communication strategy; a face-to-face talk would be.
- Furthermore, there's sharing - sharing power, time, finances, and responsibility. If you ever start a business with a friend, you're going to have to learn to do all of this. Who will be the CEO? How much will everyone get paid? Who is going to be responsible for what in the company? Deciding how things are split up needs other important elements of successful relationships, like the ability to negotiate and be fair to one another.
- Additionally, there's respect, esteem, admiration, or deference for a person or their qualities. If you don't respect your parent's authority, judgment, or what not, then family trouble can brew. Similarly, if they don't respect, say, your need for some time alone, that's also not very conducive towards a positive relationship. So, it's not just about respect but rather mutual respect.
There's a lot more, of course. Some things are just a bit more specific to certain kinds of relationships. Take for example, physical intimacy and affection - good for personal relationships, not so good for work relationships, or diversity - great for having lots of diverse people with all sorts of different backgrounds around at work to generate ideas, not so great for having lots of people in monogamous relationships (you get my drift).
Development and Maintenance
Developing and maintaining a successful relationship takes a bit of effort. But nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy. Using the characteristics we just went over, it'll be easy to describe some important aspects of all of this.
Build trust; build appreciation; build honesty and communication. Say your partner does something for you that you asked them to do before. Communicate by acknowledging it, thank them to show appreciation, and be honest about how it made you feel. All of that will help build trust in your partner's abilities and their trust in your acknowledgment of their hard work. Make it a point to do this. A building doesn't go up instantly; it goes up brick by brick. Thank you by thank you, word by word, action by action, the relationship also develops over time.
Other ways to develop good relationships is to find out each other's interests. This doesn't have to do just with romantic interests. You know how business friends try to find out what their potential client or colleague may like through taking them on a golf outing or food or a good drink after work to unwind? Well, all of that builds relationships too! It shows the other person, even if you only see them for business matters, that you took the time to figure out what it is that they like and implement it to make them feel better!
And don't forget humility. If the warlord across the street heard you'd be 'man enough' to apologize for something you did wrong, then maybe a fight wouldn't have started. Many wars were started when a lack of humility was present and a relationship fell apart.
Once a relationship is built, just like a building, it must be maintained for any cracks. As life moves forward, people may change, outside influences may come and go, and this will all affect a person or an entire relationship. Don't view these as bad things! Rather, use them to check in with your partner, colleague, family member, or warlord on a regular basis. See what has changed, why, and how you can help one another out and build an even more successful relationship.
That successful relationship has many different important traits. They include:
- Trust, a confident reliance upon another person's characteristics and actions.
- Effective and open communication, the ability to clearly express and understand one another's thoughts, feelings, and opinions, respectfully disagree, clarify, discuss, and be mindful of each other's needs.
- Sharing - sharing power, time, finances, and responsibility.
- Respect, esteem, admiration, or deference for a person or their qualities.
Such qualities and relationships between people aren't built overnight. Little by little, by showing acts of kindness, using words of appreciation, and actions that build trust, a successful relationship can develop and be maintained over time.
When this lesson is over, you should be able to:
- Describe the characteristics of a successful relationship
- Understand how relationships develop and change
- Recognize how relationships require work and maintenance