Building better relationships
This series will focus on answering direct questions.
I do not promise to answer every question received, but I do promise that every answer will be honest, sometimes brutally so.
When applicable, I will provide links to resources, but most of the responses will be derive directly from past experiences, and stories.
If you wish to ask a question, feel free to reach out via e-mail.
The first question was asked by RK. See here second question here.
What do I want more of?
Dissection: asking what do I want MORE of begins with an assumption. What do I already have, but desire more.
This immediately excludes things that I want but do not yet possess.
Short answer: I want closer relationships with my friends.
Throughout my life I have always preferred the close company of a few good friends rather than keeping the company of many people whom I feel lesser kinships.
Over the past few years my inner circle has experienced its own ebbs and tides as these things tend to do.
I have had close friends grow distant and fade away as new friends come forward to fill the gaps.
One 2019 goal was to meet and develop one new friendship each month.
So far, I have not exactly had this happen, and realistically, it probably won’t.
Despite the bleak prospects, I did manage to re-spark communication with an acquaintance whom I briefly met last Halloween.
This person has quickly come into my life full-force and I look forward to a lifelong and deep relationship.
So how would one develop closer relationships? A desire becomes a goal through motivation, and a goal with a plan becomes reality.
My plan for building better relationships:
Everyone needs to be heard; but hearing without understanding is useless.
Most people are too busy thinking about what they should say next, that we fail to really listen to what our partners are communicating.
I plan to stop. take a quick breath, and really strive to hear what is being said.
2) Ask better questions.
It is not enough to listen, you need to be able to provide the right feedback to let your partners know that they have been heard.
One method of doing this is parrot their speech with clarifying questions.
This serves both to let them know that they are being heard, but also to clarify what they are saying and lead to deeper, more intimate, conversation.
(also note, use judiciously so that your partner feels like you are actively listening, and not mocking them.)
3) Listen to the person, not the words.
It is not enough to simply listen to someone talk, pay attention to their tone, facial expressions, and body language.
4) Remember the important stuff.
We live in a connected world of social accounts. The digitized knowledge of humanity is available literally in the palm of our hands.
There is no excuse to forget a birthday.
Our partners know we care, when we show them that we understand the things that are important to them.
Pay attention to what people tell you they care about, write it down if you must; don’t be afraid to use technology to your advantage.
5) Be honest, but cautious
When meeting someone new, remember to pace yourself. Telling your whole life story upfront can be overwhelming; especially if it contains some not so pretty parts.
That is not say that those parts don’t matter–we are all the sum of our collective experiences both good and bad. Own your past and be proud.
Remember that strong relationships are a bond mutually emulsified over small bits (like good mayonnaise) blended well over time.
Keep your mysteries an adventure to experience, not a ride to endure.