Developing Relationships

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Topic of the month

As I have mentioned many times before, I am in a coaching programme called Grow You. The topic of the month for November was ‘strengthening relationships’. Natalie Bacon, whose programme it is, prepares a workbook and a video lesson each month. I thought that I would share with you the thoughts that came up for me when going through the workbook and give you a few ideas if your relationships are something that you want to work on.

Friendships

When it comes to friendships I’ve usually been someone who has a small group of friends or even just a best friend. As I’ve written about before I struggle to find people on my wavelength. For example, as I write this we have just gone into tier four and all my neighbours are complaining about their celebrations for Christmas being cancelled. Perhaps because I am not a big fan of the festive season or because it was so obvious what was coming, I found it hard to have sympathy with them.

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I tried to be grateful instead of complaining
Cultivating a positive attitude

Instead of moaning I try to find things to be grateful for. I know it’s a cliché, but I really do believe that we spend too much of our lives moaning. I tried to find the positives in our situation:

  • We have a warm and comfortable home.
  • We have food in the cupboards.
  • Even if we can’t see family we can Skype them

You don’t have to look far to find others worse off than yourself. Complaints about the situation being unfair are still ringing in my ears. Unfortunately the idea of fairness is something that society has created. Life isn’t, and never will be, fair. Most of the time life is random and out of our control. We just like to think that we can control it, but 2020 has made us all re-evaluate that. My belief is that we need to focus on what we can control, which is our own behaviour and accept what we can’t e.g. natural events such as the weather or coronavirus. For me, my work is to develop relationships with others who also have a positive attitude.

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I have realised that I asked a lot of questions
New friendships

Whilst working on this topic I had the opportunity to go on a hike with two neighbours, neither of whom I know very well. One of them lives in a very large house, which makes me feel slightly intimidated, but she is very down to earth and I really enjoyed talking with her and getting to know each other. The other neighbour I found to be quite prejudiced and although I was and still am polite to her I don’t feel that we are similar people or that I would want to pursue a friendship with her.

Both that day and other experiences have made me realise that the majority of people talk about themselves most of the time. Even with people that I really like and feel that I could be good friends with, I have found that they hardly ask me any questions about myself. In contrast I have realised that I ask a lot of questions of people. This is because I want to get to know them. I am not sure whether I come across as nosey, but that is not my intention. I am truly interested in understanding what makes them tick, in learning about how they see the world.

Ryan Holiday talks about this phenomenon in his book, ‘Ego is the Enemy’. He suggests that our lives are films and we are playing the starring role. Everyone else just has a bit part and they aren’t as important as we are. We all like to think that we are special, whereas in fact we are all human beings just trying to find our way in this world.

woman wearing teal dress sitting on chair talking to man
Try to listen more and talk less
A few things to think about and try out
  • Do you ask questions of others when you meet?
  • When you ask ‘How are you?’ do you really want to know the answer?
  • Are you just waiting for them to take a breath so you can jump in and start talking about yourself?
  • How about instead of that try to really listen to what they are telling you?
  • Be interested.
  • Ask questions to help deepen your understanding.
  • Refrain from telling them that their exact situation, or something even worse, happened to you and what you did.

So there we are. My current thoughts about relationships. If you’re interested Natalie Bacon has a free lesson here on how to fix your relationship, which focuses on your relationship with your significant other.  

2 Replies to “Developing Relationships”

  1. Listening more than you speak is the most valuable lesson, particularly in a world where we are rewarded for expressing ourselves on social media.

    How do you think we can build stronger relationships using technology in this pandemic?

    1. I think that is a really interesting question. During the pandemic I do feel that some of my relationships have strengthened. I live about 180 miles from my parents and my sister and so don’t see them that often. Prior to March 2020 my mum would phone me once a fortnight and we’d chat for about an hour. My contact with my sister was much more sporadic. Just the occasional Whatsapp message and then we would meet up a couple of times a year. Since the first lockdown we have been having fortnightly Skype calls with me, my mum and my sister. Therefore I have had much more contact with her, albeit virtually, than I would normally do. In my work with children, although we are doing everything virtually, this has enabled me to speak to them on many more occasions than I would ordinarily do. When I have to fit travel into my working day I have a lot less time. I would usually see them twice for about 45 minutes each time. Now I can do several more sessions with them, therefore I feel that I have gotten to know each child better even though I have never met them in the flesh.

      I think that you have to just make the effort and be prepared to encounter problems with the technology until you get the hang of it. Unfortunately I have found some people unwilling to try, even though they have a smartphone or a computer, preferring to be lonely rather than try something new.

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