Creating Effective and Meaningful Relationships

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Society can be described as a web of relationships, which requires groups and individuals to collaborate and contribute to the achievement of a common goal. Relationships, where cooperation and respect are displayed, can make society (home, family, work, sport and play) a better place. This can only be achieved through effective and efficient relationships.

We are social beings and our well-being greatly depends on our ability to maintain meaningful relationships. It’s very unlikely that anyone can succeed by themselves.  On one hand, relationships of all kinds can be very delicate and require extra effort to maintain. On the other, a relationship can also be something that provides security and can be long lasting despite many challenges.

Building effective and lasting relationships is a necessity for several reasons. In both group or personal relationships, the success of those involved depends on how efficient and effective they interact with one another. It does not matter whether this involves marriages, family, work, or friends.

Understanding the other group or persons' feeling and position creates the foundation of an effective and efficient relationship. One of the best approaches to understanding what is important to another individual is to ask them what they want and listen to what they say. When the other person recognizes this, they would feel the importance given to them.

Effective and efficient relationships require us to openly express our feelings and positions on all matters relevant to the discussion. Assuming others understand our needs and give us what we need without asking for it is not a good approach to developing a good relationship. Spouses, friends, co-workers and/or managers don’t have a crystal ball to know what’s going on inside our head. Good relationships are built on honesty and transparency.

Respect is the key to a relationship.

To create an effective relationship, individuals must treat each other with respect.  We can show respect by listening to the other group or person and by trying sincerely to understand what they believe. You can also show respect to others by confirming that they add value and their point of view is are important to the process.

The opposite of respect is making judgments based on unfounded facts and prejudice. We must be mindful not to pass judgment based on our own experiences or perceptions. This is where empathy becomes important because we must be able to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

Respect is a key step in building a great relationship. This means respecting yourself and respecting others. In most cases, the respect one gives is the respect one is most likely to receive.

Another key area in forming an effective relationship is to confront differences with others head-on. Differences between groups or people are quite interesting. For example, in a conversation where each group or person listens to the other, you often observe that each comes from a different perspective. The challenge is to find a way to work through these differences.

Work towards a win-win solution for both sides.

This can be done when at least one group or person acknowledges that the relationship is important. It requires them to exert more time, effort and energy to understand the other's needs and deal with it.  Should they fail, it will be gratifying to know that at least they tried.

Effectively listening and no pre-judging. This is important if groups and individuals are to understand each other.

Informal conversations are helpful for groups and individuals seeking to find common ground. This allows them to openly discuss underlying issues and concerns. They also tend to feel more relaxed making them think more clearly.

Create an atmosphere where the groups or individuals can express their feelings when they need to. If not, they will never be able to move beyond the surface conversations. This age of political correctness has a way of stifling a meaningful conversation of different perspectives. I always appreciated how my father and a co-worker (white) could openly discuss their views on race relations and continued to maintain a meaningful friendship. They didn’t always agree or attempt to change the others point of view.

When people fail to express whatever is on their mind or feelings, it can get in the way of building an effective relationship.

Groups and people should be mindful that certain things exist naturally but should be controlled in any dealings in any relationship.  Human nature is one. Some of the factors that impede relationship building is embedded in a history of stereotyping or mistrust, blaming the other person or group for a strained relationship, excluding the other groups or person’s feelings when focusing on a task, no clear and defined objectives, and roles and expectations of others in the relationship is unclear.

Effective relationships are important to living a balanced life. Resolving issues and problems right away is a must to further improve our relationships. We need others to reach our full potential. As they say, 'No man (person) is an Island'.

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