Humans are social animals. This observation was first made by Aristotle over 2000 years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then. We now have scientific evidence that meaningful relationships can improve our well-being and make us happier. Neuroscientists using brain imaging technology—MRI—have shown that our brain releases dopamine and oxytocin when we bond with friends.
While research has shown we are wired to pursue friendship, some of us find it difficult to start and maintain a strong relationship with others. Although our social lives are never stagnant, it’s important we forge deep connections with a selected group of individuals.
Fortunately, interpersonal skills are learnable. If you would like to improve your social skills, make and maintain strong relationships with others, here are five techniques that can help.
Treat Others with Respect
This is the most fundamental yet often neglected aspect of a relationship. Treating others with respect makes them feel valued, safe, and comfortable around you. Respecting others means always striving to find common ground with them, despite different viewpoints. To build worthwhile friendships is to recognize others’ differences as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Be an Energy Giver
Have you ever been with those individuals who seem to absorb all the energy in the room? Energy takers are those people who complain constantly, backbite, and hold a negative view of the world. This is a scientifically proven fact that our emotions can be transmitted to others on a subconscious level via a phenomenon psychologists call emotional contagion. So, if you want to attract and keep friends, start by being a little more positive. It’s bad enough to endure a bad day. It’s even worse to spend it with someone who leaves us with no energy to cope with our challenges.
Stand Up for—and to—Your Friends
Not only does a valuable friend provide support, but they also remind us when we are off track. No one is perfect. Often, a good friend who will stand up to us is all we need when we self-sabotage.
Encourage Your Friends to Go the Extra Mile
Do you have those friends who inspire you to be—and do—your best? Just as you would prefer to spend time with those who bring out the best in you, act as a cheerleader for your friends. That way, you are more likely to maintain meaningful friendships for a long time.
Communication is the pillar of every human relationship. Communicating effectively is not only about sharing your ideas but also about listening without judgment with the purpose of understanding. Always consider the other person’s feelings before sharing your opinions. You must also be willing to accept that you may be wrong, and when you are, apologize immediately. Your ability to listen with empathy, refrain from criticizing, will create healthy relationships that last.
If you are reading this article, you are putting your trust in me to write an informative and reliable article. Similarly, any interaction that involves humans implies trust. To build trust, you must start treating your friends—future and actual—as you want them to treat you.
You already know that meaningful relationships enrich our lives. Therefore, building healthy relationships with others is like a means to giving our well-being a much-needed boost.