Do you find yourself butting heads with people often? It’s possible to have better relationships with the people around you. A little bit of emotional intelligence can go a long way. Keep reading.
For a long time after losing a very close friend who was my “person,” I withdrew from society and became a bit of a hermit. I stopped talking to people for a long time, and eventually I even stopped liking people in general.
It took a long time for me to adjust my thinking and get back out into the world with a better attitude. I couldn’t sit around waiting for the world to come apologize to me and swoop me up in its arms. I had to be the one to actively make amends with the outer world by resolving things in my inner world.
These are some of the things I have learned along the way that have helped me to develop better relationships with people.
1. Don’t Listen to Respond – Listen to Understand
If you’ve ever witnessed two people arguing, you’ll quickly realize that neither one is actually listening to what the other person is saying. That’s because they’re listening to respond instead of listening to understand. I believe Stephen Covey talked about this in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What is the purpose of a conversation if not to come to some sort of resolution at its conclusion? A conversation will be so much more productive if you listen to understand.
Be the more enlightened person the next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with someone and employ this practice. Be quiet, fold your hands in front of you, let the other person talk, and really hear what he or she is saying. Let them fully express themselves. Ask questions for clarification of their points. You’ll find that they start to calm down as they notice that you are actually hearing them!
Tell them you appreciate their side and now you understand their side of things more clearly (even if you still disagree). Then, once they are finished, you can tell your side calmly and seek understanding from them.
Most people just want to be heard. They are angry and frustrated because they feel that no one really listens to them. Making them feel heard will make them feel better not just about themselves but also about YOU.
People want to feel acknowledged, like they exist and their opinions matter.
You want to know one of my biggest pet peeves? When I walk into an empty business and the clerk or owner doesn’t bother to acknowledge my presence as I stand there waiting. Nowadays, if this happens, I quietly walk right back out of the door. If I’m going spend my resources to support a business, the very least the business owner can do is communicate and acknowledge me to say “hello, I’ll be right with you.”
There’s a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
2. Look in the Other Person’s Eyes When You’re Talking to Them
The best way to tell if someone is genuine is to look into their eyes when you are speaking with them. If they can hold a gaze with you and you feel comfortable in it, that is a good sign. If the other person’s eyes dart away often or you feel uncomfortable under their gaze, that’s a possible sign that you should keep them at arm’s length (or further). Listen to your intuition.
On the flip side, when you look into someone’s eyes when you’re talking to them it lets them know that you are an upstanding individual who is fully engaged in the conversation. You can send non-verbal reassurances by simply locking eyes with another person.
Also, please remember to turn off your cellphone when having an important conversation with someone so that your eyes won’t wander. It matters.
3. Care About What the Other Person Cares About (If Only for a Moment)
Develop a genuine sense of care for what other people care about. It may not be particularly what you value, have an interest in, or care for, but it matters to them. And if the other person matters to you (even for a fleeting moment) let them indulge in a moment of conversation about that topic. They will cherish you for that. For instance, when talking to a grandmother, ask her about her grandkids and watch as her face lights up. Even if you can’t relate, you are showing that you care. People appreciate this.
4. Take Care of Yourself
The way you take care of yourself will have an effect on how well you relate with others. When you feel good about yourself, others can tell. The positive energy emanates from you. You start to glow.
Having that good energy starts with taking good care of yourself. Staying clean and smelling fresh. Making sure your hair and nails look good. Eating healthy whole foods and smoothies that make you feel good, happy, and energetic.
Also, when you like yourself, people tend to like you too.
5. The Occasional Thoughtful Gift
Attempting to buy someone’s love or friendship isn’t ever a good idea, but giving an occasional thoughtful gift can move mountains. For example, I have a buddy in just about every store that I frequent. I’ll occasionally bring them a health drink, water, or snack from my car because I know they’ll be on their feet all day. When going to the office, I would bring my favorite coworker a treat. These are inexpensive things that can really make a difference in someone’s day. It’s nice to know that someone has been thinking about you.
Keep in mind that some people don’t like to receive gifts because they will feel some sort of obligation to give something back, which is another reason why it’s best to not spend a lot of money. There’s no need to go all out—small things matter.
6. Respond and Check In
One of the most important ways that you can establish and maintain a strong relationship with another person is to stay in regular contact with them.
Before the internet and smartphones took over, I remember that my friends and I stayed in constant contact, like every day. We hung out a lot, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company.
Now it seems like a strain for someone to send an “ok” text message back!
Can we begin to change that, one relationship at a time? Make an effort to reach out to someone you care about or a new friend you just met and just say “hey, how are you?” I believe that checking in at least a couple of times per week is key to human connection.
And when someone reaches out to you, don’t ignore them. Take the three seconds to respond, if only to say, “I’m good” or “I’m busy right now but I’ll get back to you.” It shows a level of respect and acknowledgement that I believe a lot of people are craving in today’s world.
Understand that a lot of people are scared and they’re hurting. Sometimes all it takes is one positive text message to change their day. If you want to get along better with people, be there for them when they need you the most—even in the smallest of ways.
7. Deal with People as They Are (Or Don’t)
One thing that I have been learning (and that I am still working on resolving within myself) is that people are who they are—especially when they reach a certain age. You are not going to change them. As Dr. Angelou said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
So that person you know who is very selfish and only thinks of his or her own needs. Or that person who tosses out insults any chance she or he gets. Or that person who complains a lot. Understand that that is who they are, and you’ll either have to deal with them as they are or remove them from your life.
Understand that not everyone thinks and behaves as you would. People are raised differently and have varied life experiences that have made them into the adults they are now. You’ll find a lot of peace once you begin to accept this truth.
Hopefully these 7 keys to getting along with people will help you improve your relationships with the people around you, whether they are people you know or people you meet when you’re out and about. There’s a general rule of thumb that will always ring true for relating with people: treat others how you would want to be treated.
In other words, don’t be a jerk.
Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book Sing While You’re Single offers advice to women who want to remain single for the time being while still maintaining their belief in the power and possibility of love.