The (Not So) Secret Ingredient to Thriving Relationships
They all have one factor in common: healthy relationships. We ache when we have bad ones. We celebrate when we have good ones. So how do we keep them healthy?
The (not so) secret ingredient to any relationship in your life is: time. To destroy a relationship, stop spending consistent, quality time with that person. To build a lasting, meaningful relationship, start spending consistent, quality time with that person. It’s that simple.
You may be thinking about a relationship you have now that is simply not working. It’s in an unacceptable state. There may be yelling, snipping, or silence. There may even be manipulating or intentional harming. And you may be thinking as you read this: this is going to require more than just time. This relationship needs a miracle!
Well, you are right. If you are at that stage, you may need a God-size miracle. But I can guarantee that at some point in the past you ignored a fundamental tenant of relationship building: spending quality time with the other person. Even if you are at that hopeless state, the advice below can still prove very beneficial in turning this relationship around. Whether it be personal or professional in nature, if you are to rebuild a failing relationship or grow a thriving one, consistent, quality time will be an integral part of your journey with that person.
Here are some ideas on how to start your journey centered on the main tenant of investing consistent, quality time into a relationship.
8 Steps to Building and Maintaining Thriving Relationships
- Take responsibility for the relationship. Most of us work on a relationship by trying to solve issues. While that is certainly important, there is actually a critical first step: Stop solving issues; start making a connection. Stop pointing a finger; start building bridges. Stop waiting for something to happen; start taking the initiative. Stop focusing on your wounds; start looking for the answers. If a relationship in your life is not working, or you wish for it to work better, you must take the lead (without announcing that you are).
- Give the relationship priority. Building healthy relationships requires time. If you don’t have time, you are simply not giving this relationship priority. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. You are spending those hours on something. If you are still not convinced, let me put it to you this way. Do you want to have a failed business? Ignore relationships. Do you want to have a failed marriage? Ignore relationships. Do you want to have a failed team? Ignore relationships. Relationships are the cornerstone for success in your life, my friend. Give them priority!
- Consistently spend quality time together. This is not rocket science. Consistently carve out time dedicated to spend together. It’s simple. Just do it. Figure it out. Find a time during your busy schedule. Find a time to talk to your employees. Find a babysitter. Find a person to cover your shift at work. Make it happen. How much time? Enough time that you can see the human side of each other. Enough time that you finish talking about business and start talking about life. Among the important relationships and teams in my life, and especially if there is a high level of stress involved, I apply this principle: short daily meetings and longer weekly meetings. Yes, I meet daily with that person for a short time (10 to 15 minutes), and longer if we only meet weekly (30 to 60 minutes).
- Be consistent. Friend, don’t wait until there is tension. Keep the relationship bank full. You will have to work much harder to repair the damage when you are not consistent, or just spend time together when there is tension. Make a schedule and stick to it.
- Quality means quality. You cannot have quality time unless you are fully present. Turn off your cell phone if you have to. Go offsite if you must. Stop and really listen. Engage. Be alone with that person. Quality time means that the world needs to disappear when the two of you connect.
- Investing time leads to breaking down walls. Spending time together creates a solid foundation. But that’s not the final step. The goal of spending time together is for barriers between the two of you to crumble and fall away. And that almost always happens when you spend consistent, quality time together. Why? Because when two people start seeing the human side of each other, hearts soften, and walls start coming down. And then, to the best result yet, new walls are not erected as you move forward.
- Be patient and gentle. When you start spending consistent, quality time with a person, don’t demand them to open up. Each person has a different comfort level in revealing their heart. I know people who bear it all. I know people who bottle it in and never do. Be respectful. Be kind. We are all trying to make it in life. You don’t know what’s going on inside the heart of another person. Remember that the strongest force in the world is gentleness.
- Practice honesty. Once you are spending consistent, quality time together, and you are being patient and gentle with one another, there’s one last step. Know what you want to say, but don’t say it yet. That’s right, don’t say it. Not yet. Wait for the right time. But don’t wait too long. Make sure it is said. Somehow, you must communicate how you feel. Tell people when they cross a boundary. Let your relationship bank become so full, that when you make an “honesty withdrawal,” you are not left overdrawn. When honesty exceeds our connection, a relationship starts breaking down. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Almost anything can be said in the right time and in the right way.
Here is the truth. Even for the best of us, some relationships are tough to manage. But we must strive to have the best relationships we can because most of our successes, our failures, our pains, and our joys come from our relationships. Healthy ones heal us, and oppressive ones suffocate us. Loving, uplifting ones build us and give us life and strength.
Simply take the time to be with one another. Give people your time, and they will give you their heart.
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