How can we effectively build and maintain healthy relationships?

In our daily lives we are continously connecting with people and each person  has their own role in our lives as a family member, friend, colleague or romantic partner. It is not possible for us to sustain our lives on our own without having any connection with others as it is a kind of social need for us. We need to express ourselves, share our emotions and thoughts and enjoy the pleasure of building close relationships with other people.

There are some components of building  a healthy relationship.. Firstly as this is usually a mutual connection we need to know exactly what we want, what our desires are and what our expectations are from a relationship. After we have evaluated our needs we need to make certain demands from the person who we are connecting with, so that person also starts to understand what we want. Don’t forget that the more you share your thoughts and ask for what you want the more you get what you want!

In addition to this, we need to have the courage to say “no” when there is something we don’t want.. We are not capable of making everyone happy andwe have to realize and accept this.. Therefore, we should feel free to say what we don’t want. Behaving according to our perspective and principles increases our self-respect and in turn makes us happier! 

It is important that when opinions are conflicted with each other that we negotiate mindfully.When we are expressing our thoughts and emotions we need to take into account that the receiver(s) of our opinions may not share the same mindset with us. In this situation, we need t to remain calm, accept this conflict and avoid the aversive reaction with a neutral voice. Then, we should validate the person’s needs or concerns, which will hopefully lead to a mutually negotiated outcome where both parties are happy!

So, of course, there are some behaviours we should avoid to keep our relationships effective. For example, we should avoid using judgemental statements, denigrating, blaming, threatening, and “you” statements. In addition we should avoid advising, filtering and mind-reading, these are blocks for mindful attention and listening. When we behave in this way and leads to just a simple response rather than a response that reflects the specific needs and feeling of the persons current situation.

Tips for negotiating and managing conflicting situations

  • Use a communication effectiveness checklist
    • Are you clear about your goals?
    • Do you know what you want?
    • Are you aware of your values?
    • Do you use aversive strategies, like threats, blaming, guilt-tripping?
    • Is there any blocks that affect your listening, like mind-reading, filtering, judging?
  • Using mutual validation – means you acknowledge and appreciate the person’s experience, you understand where they are coming from and you can validate using your own experience.
  • Use assertive delay – This technique gives you a chance to wait and take a step back before conflict arises and things get heated and angry. You can calm down, think carefully about what’s being said and prepare a good response like “I see your point, but give me an hour this is important, and I want to think carefully before I say anything.”
  • Recall three recent conflicts where you had very different needs from someone else. For each conflict try to use strategies described above and describe specifically how you would implement them.

After you start to apply these strategies, you’ll realize that you are more successful in maintaining healthy relationships and also it motivates the person who is communicating with you to behave in the same manner.

Now it’s time to put all of them into practice!

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