Building Healthy Relationships – Part One

I realized many years ago that we are defined by our relationships. You can actually trace your successes and failures to the relationships in your life. 

Maybe up until now your relationships have not been as positive, rewarding, and productive as you’d like them to be. That’s okay, because you can learn how to build better relationships and increase your relational potential. You can actually cultivate healthy, stronger, long-term relationships that enable and encourage you to move forward in your life and career.

Here are some suggestions that you can apply to your life to move you forward towards healthier and mutually beneficial relationships…

1> Care about people every day

You cannot increase your people capacity unless you value people and care about them. If you don’t like people, don’t respect them, and don’t believe they have value, it stands as a barrier to building healthy relationships with others. You cannot secretly look down on others and build them up at the same time. However, if you truly care about people, it shows. And it makes the development of positive and healthy relationships possible.

2> Make yourself more valuable in your relationships

What’s the fastest way to make a relationship better? Make yourself better so that you have more to give within the relationships you are developing. That requires an abundance mind-set. That’s the belief that there’s more than enough for everyone and people always have the potential to find or create more.

Try improving yourself and your situation with the purpose of giving to others and see what happens. As you give, I guarantee that your ability to give more will increase. It will motivate you to give more of your thoughts, time, assets, relationships, influence, and giftedness.

I ask a lot of questions to discover how I can better add value to others. There is no better way to show people you value them than by asking for their opinion. Communicating is about adding value to people, not adding value to yourself. The more you know about people and the more you improve yourself, the more you can make a difference in the lives of others. You can give more value to others, and that increases your relational capacity. 

3> Put yourself in their world

Are you familiar with the saying, “It’s lonely at the top”? I don’t like it. It is a sign of disconnection. If you are a leader and you have been taught not to be friends with those who follow then it will be lonely at the top because it means no one is following you. In seminary I was taught that as the pastor I needed to not make friends within the congregation and that I must remain ‘somewhat separate’ so as to be better able to counsel and direct people. That simply is not good advice. Leaders and others who have self-isolated from others need to get off their mountain or out of their ivory tower, go to where people are, and spend time with them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Make yourself available to the people in your life. And be alert to ways you can go to them when they need it. Sometimes you don’t even need to say a word. Just be there. Just let others know what they mean to you.

4> Focus your relationships on benefiting others, not yourself.

To build great relationships, you need to want more for people than you want from people. The people who want more for others and give more than they take in a relationship are pluses. The ones who want and take more than they give are minuses. That’s simple relational math. You need to determine that you want to be a plus with people. You should decide to make five relational deposits for every relational withdrawal you make from a relationship. That’s a great goal and will mean that you are building healthy, long-term relationships. 

You should never take any relationship for granted. You never want to assume that a relationship gives you privileges that are not yours. Assumption is a killer in relationships. It needs to be replaced by awareness. If you want to increase your relational capacity, you must be continually aware that relationships never stay the same. They never stay alive on their own. They need attention and need to be cultivated. And you have to keep being intentional about adding value to continue being a plus in another person’s life.  

More next time….