Even from a young age we quickly discover that growing and maintaining quality relationships takes effort. And as we get older it doesn’t get easier. Relationships, especially close ones such as with a partner, work colleagues or friends, can get complicated and become real hard work. But as social beings we share an innate need to belong. Isolation or disconnection are well documented as having potential for poor consequences on health. However, through connectedness with others, and by bringing and adding value to your relationships, this can help spawn many mutually positive wellbeing benefits.
Building better bonds with one another is nurturing on emotional stability and encourages a greater sense of contentment and happiness. Learning the art of how to add value to your relationships is a life-affirming investment for promoting cooperation and mutual respect, is stress-reducing as a softener against possible contention or conflict, and as well, offers a pathway to improving life-satisfaction.
Adding value to your relationships allows you to channel goodness towards others. Creating healthy and more harmonious relationships is worthy of pursuit and is within everyone’s reach. What it takes is having an appropriate set of guiding principles plus the commitment to put them into action. Those principles then transform into solid pillars providing support and strength necessary to help your relationships flourish.
Here are 9 core principles for adding value to your relationships which you can start applying rightaway:
- RESPECT: Recognise and have genuine regard for individuality. While it is important to have healthy self-respect, it is equally important to appreciate, honour, and be respectful of what is different and unique in others.
- EMPATHY: Make it your quest to grasp a deep understanding of the feelings and perspectives of others. Imagine yourself in their shoes, or in their position, and seeing things through their eyes.
- COMMUNICATE: Keep yourself open to communicating, and when expressing your own thoughts and ideas, invite feedback for clarity to help avoid any misunderstanding. Seek to really listen to others, intently wanting to hear. Because as much as you wish to be understood, they too wish to be well understood.
- ATTENTIVE: Give time to your relationships and give that time attentively. It means fully being there. That is, mindfully present in the moment, focused and free of personal disquiet or distractions so that you’re completely centred on giving your best to the relationship.
- ACCOUNTABLE: Determine to take responsibility and ownership for your own conduct as that is vital to any successful relationship. While nobody is perfect, people do want to be confident that you can be trusted to at least own up to mess-ups or mistakes and willing to mend and make things right.
- GRATEFUL: Showing gratitude, being thankful, and expressing appreciation and kindness are nurturing and healing to relationships. Regularly reassuring others that they are valued and appreciated will mean the world to them and move your relationship closer and deeper.
- AUTHENTIC: Be genuine. Being phony or pretentious sooner or later sabotages a relationship. So be transparent, your true self, and even though that risks vulnerability, it may encourage others to take the opportunity to open-up and be real with you too.
- FORGIVE: Relationships have their ups and downs. The ability to resolve issues early is important. So step-up and apologise and make amends quickly when you’ve contributed to a rift. When others miss the mark and cause you distress or disappointment, forgive and move on. Forgiveness inhibits bitterness and assists in quelling ongoing friction or conflict and therefore contributes to shoring up the sustainability of your relationship.
- ENRICH: Be committed to helping others learn and grow, and to discover meaning and purpose in their lives. Connect them with people, knowledge and resources that expand their capacity for pursuit of their passions and talents. By enriching the lives of others, we ourselves are enriched. A relationship bond grows stronger through the shared experience of fulfillment of achievements and in the making of a more meaningful and purposeful life.
Establishing good relationships is an adventure that life affords us to meet our basic need for human connectedness. On the other hand, when relationships fray, falter or fall apart there can be stress, ache and hurt which affects how we function. Unhealthy relationships are characteristically unproductive, tending to weigh heavily on mental, emotional, and physical health. Poor relationships therefore sap us of vitality. Those risks can be reduced by putting effort into building and maintaining positive relationships. By adding value to your relationships, you’re advantaging the wellbeing of others and yourself.
ROHAN WATSON is a member of the Australian Counselling Association and a general member of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience. He holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in Psychology, Counselling and Education from Monash University and USQ, including a Master of Counselling (Advanced Practice) degree awarded with Distinction.
As a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Mental Health Researcher, Rohan is dedicated to helping unlock the potential in people to live happier, healthier, and more purposeful. His Toowoomba Counselling & Coaching service helps people from all walks and seasons of life.
Rohan has facilitated and delivered mental health programs across rural and remote Australia. He provides professional psychotherapy services to employees at all levels nationally through EAP services. Rohan is also a highly sought-after Marriage Counsellor and Relationship Counselling specialist. He has a special interest in the online delivery of wellbeing programs. Rohan’s current research is focusing on mental health in Australian workplaces. Learn more.