All of us have relationships of different degrees with the people around us. While we might be able to feel instantly connected with a few people, there might be a few with whom we don't feel that connection.
Research studies the world over have shown that people who have a good social support - friends and family - tend to live longer and healthier lives. Our relationships help us deal with stressful life events; in fact, just knowing that there is a friend to turn to in times of need helps reduce stress and enhance coping. However, one cannot wait for crisis to strike to start building strong and meaningful relationships! Relationships take time and effort and an investment of one's emotions as well.
One might not always have the luxury of time to focus on nurturing relationships. However, with some simple but thoughtful steps, we can ensure that life doesn't come in the way of our relationships.
Here's how we can nurture and build meaningful relationships
When you open up to more opportunities to meet new people, the chances of meeting someone like-minded would be higher. It could be the beginning of a long-lasting strong friendship. Many people do hesitate to attend parties/gatherings where they know only few people. But learning strategies to be more comfortable in such situations can help.
Keeping in touch is very important - send emails, call once in a while, send an occasional card or just SMS and let them know they are remembered! When life gets busy, priorities change and things come in the way, simple steps to remain in touch helps maintain if not strengthen old bonds.
Many times we may find ourselves trying to be different when in the company of certain people. Most people do this so that they are liked and accepted by others. But the truth is that this façade cant last for long and one feels disconnected and drained out by all the energy that goes in to being different. By opening up your true self, you are more likely to find a trustworthy and like-minded person.
Respect and Support
Relationships require a listening ear - it is important to respect your friend's point of view, to support and praise them, admire their achievements, while ignoring failures and imperfections. Pride, they say, doesn't have a place between friends - apologize for your mistakes and forgive theirs!
In the hustle and bustle of life, being flexible is always important for maintaining relationships. People may have to suddenly change plans; if there is something you have been looking forward to for a long time, being flexible helps one cope effectively with disappointment without much regret.
Handle conflicts effectively
Conflicts are inevitable in all relationships and must be resolved effectively. It is worth the effort and time to confront and talk things out with each other and give yourself time to cool off before you rejuvenate the relationship. Things do get back to normal again.
Don't keep score
Ask not what a friend can do for you; ask what you can do for your friend! Give to others regardless of how much they give to you. Relationships strengthen when one can be sure that they can rely on the other.
It might not be easy to incorporate all these into our lives. A few of these steps might mean that we first identify what stops us from taking them and working through those blocks. Discussing these with a counsellor can help