Great relationships are like investments. Every little bit you put in begins to add up. The beauty of great relationships is the compound interest that comes from the continual little time investments we make.
Great relationships spend time investing in encouragement, comfort, and advocacy for one another.
But I believe to have meaningful relationships you have to start with a deep connection with who YOU are.
Start With Yourself
Every morning I get up at 5:30 am and spend 90-minutes reading and praying then watching an inspirational YouTube video. Having those 90-minutes to myself every day has brought some of the deepest clarity to my life than I’ve ever had before.
It’s just me on the couch with my blanket and my iPad hanging out and growing in amazing ways.
This has been the root of some powerful changes in the relationships in my life. If you can swing it, I recommend an early wake-up time and routine similar to mine. I guess you could say I read, meditate, and educate.
Meaningful relationships are healthy relationships. And in order to experience healthy relationships, we need to be healthy ourselves.
Every morning I spend time working on this aspect of developing meaningful relationships with my simple routine. This has helped me be a lot more healthy as a person and that’s attractive.
The more you know yourself the more you can control your emotions to the benefit of people you are in relationships with. This is the EIQ or emotional intelligence piece.
Emotional intelligence, or “the capacity to reason about emotions and emotional information, and of emotions to enhance thought,” is important for understanding our own and others’ emotions so that we can improve interpersonal relationships.
The greater my emotional intelligence, the greater the chances I have of developing meaningful, lasting relationships. If you’re curious about your EIQ, you can take a free assessment here.
As you build your self-awareness, it provides you with insights on the human condition and the need that everyone has to be encouraged.
Be Encouraging To Others
The comedian Michael Jr. does a great job of embodying what it means to be encouraging to others. He gives a funny Ted Talk on what he calls the “Set Up and Punch Line” which is a metaphor for our experiences and what we do with them.
He believes all our past circumstances set us up for the mission of our lives. Sometimes the set-up is strange, uncomfortable, or not what we thought it would be but the punch line is the unexpected way your mission can play out from your set up.
In other words, no matter your circumstances, there are great things ahead for you to do. For me, that is extremely encouraging!
Great friends help you fulfill your mission. Great friends give you “aha” moments of encouragement and accountability that drive you to be greater than you thought you could ever be. In other words, encouraging friends empower you to do amazing things.
So how can you encourage people?
- Tell people you are proud of something they did
- Help them stay accountable to the things they want to do
- Tell them the truth when it hurts
- Join them in their attempts at stuff (whatever it is)
- Pray for them and let them know you are doing it
- Have fun with them, make fun of them, and make fun of each other
- So many more… You tell me
Be Comforting To Others
Encouragement and comfort are similar ideas but comfort requires more effort and means your friend’s situation is not ideal.
Great friends are available when others need to be comforted. You can encourage someone and not be a great friend. To truly bring comfort to someone is a different level of relationship.
Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.Humphry Davy
When you comfort someone there’s
In fact, fMRI studies show that when you empathize with someone else’s pain or story, you are literally “firing” in the same brain regions as theirs. In other words, you aren’t getting into their shoes, you are getting into their head!
Comfort requires a lot more purposeful energy and effort toward someone. It also shows genuine care and concern that encouragement doesn’t show as well. To comfort someone requires you to listen well, empathize, and be in the moment.
You can comfort by…
- providing a perfectly timed hug.
- shutting up and just listening.
- not offering advice.
- showing up.
- being vulnerable yourself.
- sharing your story with them.
- and many more. How do you offer comfort?
If you’ve taken the time to encourage and comfort, you are well on your way to advocating for others.
Be An Advocate For Others
Even good friends have a hard time with this. It’s so easy to empathize with someone you’re close to and not be able to get to this part. You can get trapped into trying to encourage someone when what they really need is for you to tell them what YOU see.
I remember standing next to my friend’s blue F-150 one night at a game night or something. He pulled me aside and said, “Hey can I talk to you for a sec?” I said, “sure what’s going on?”
He said, “After listening to what you said tonight, I thought you were being a bit prideful. It seemed like you were showing off. I think that may be hurtful for some people in the room.”
I was surprised for sure and I didn’t really see it the way he did. But after I thought about it for a few days, I pulled him aside and thanked him for saying something. Ultimately, I was being prideful.
In great relationships, we are able to confront the truth of the situation. Because we have the rapport with them, we can say things that would seem aggressive or too blunt from other people.
A great friend will…
- call you out on being a jerk to other people.
- let you know you are being too negative.
- push you to fight for what you said you wanted.
- tell you that you are flat out wrong.
- stand up for you when you don’t know how.
- tell you the way you see yourself is all wrong.
- push you to be great.
A great friend advocates for you but is able to get outside of your situation and see it from a perspective that you can’t. Most importantly, they will say and do something about it.
A great friend knows when it’s time to fight for you, support you, and just plain have fun for you.
Be With Others
None of this is possible if we aren’t spending time with others. Social media, texting, and phone calls only can go so far. Face to face or eyeball to eyeball time is what really makes a great friend.
A recent study shows that we spend very little face to face time together. The study indicated families spend only 37 minutes a weekday together. That’s rough. Not too much longer on the weekend.
So what can you do?
- Put your phone in a drawer after work hours.
- Eat breakfast and/or dinner together.
- Have your kids do less activities.
- Turn off Netflix and Social Media a couple nights a week.
- Snag lunch with your spouse.
- Exchange date nights with friends.
- Double date.
- Have game nights.
I’d encourage you to make a list of 10 or more things you can do to invest more time with your friends and family. We all can admit we don’t spend enough time.
If you want to learn more about your Emotional Intelligence click the link to take an assessment. I’d love to hear your tips on how you’ve developed great relationships. Comment below and share your wisdom.
To develop great relationships start with self-awareness. Build on your understanding of self and how others are “wired” so you can encourage and comfort them.
As you get close to people, you will know how to advocate for them in simple yet powerful ways. And only you can advocate for them in those specific ways. Lastly, great relationships require time to develop and that time has the beauty of a compounding interest to it.