Three Keys for Building (or Rebuilding) Joy in Relationships
What do you want for the holidays?
This is the key question for December.
Though commercials offer suggestions from cars to diamonds to ugly sweaters–most people know these won’t bring real joy.
This time of year, most people crave connection more than anything else.. Someone to share the anticipation and joy of the season. Someone to help with all there is to do. Someone to love. Given this craving for connection, broken relationships are felt more deeply this season than in any other.
At The Resolution Center, we’ve learned that three key habits help build healthy relationships. When people adopt these–good relationships get better, and even broken relationships begin to heal. Doors open for true connection. We offer these as our Christmas gift in hopes that you can build–or rebuild–relationships that bring joy.
“One of the sincerest forms of respect is to actually listen to what another has to say.” Bryan McGill.
Psychologists define “being known” as the deepest human need. When couples struggle, no matter what label people put on their marital problems, most often the pain comes down to feeling “alone,” even when married. That feeling most often stems from one or both spouses not listening.
It’s easy to think we are listening when, actually, we’re simply preparing our response. We hear one line that hurts or angers, and we start defending.
True listening involves first pausing to truly understand what the other person wants to share. A good technique for ensuring we are listening is to respond first with, “What I hear you saying is ___,” then putting what was understood in our own words.
This response cues the other person that we are genuinely trying to listen—a huge step in repairing strained relationships.
It also creates the opportunity for the speaker to clarify if there was a misunderstanding. Finally, by first putting the message in our own words, we process the message more deeply—leading to a more thoughtful response.
Another key for connecting is to affirm the other person for who they are.
Strained relationships lead to hurt. Hurting people often feel unimportant. It’s hard to feel close to someone who makes us feel unimportant.
When we intentionally demonstrate appreciation for the other person’s thoughts, traits, and talents, we affirm their importance to us.
Affirmation begins with basic manners: Caring people avoid rolling eyes, sarcastic jibes, or stalking off. Instead, we take time to look others in the eye. Smile. And, even when we disagree, we keep our tone calm, respectful, and engaging—the tone used with a boss or key client.
As we adopt these patterns, even strained relationships begin to flourish.
Affirming also often includes listening for the underlying message rather than just the spoken words. If, for example, every time we propose a plan, the other person offers a list of past failures–the real message might be, “How can I trust this plan when you’ve let me down so many times before?”
Rather than explaining away past failures or dismissing the concern, affirming recognizes the reality behind the fear. Then, we offer concrete steps to build faith in this plan. We can say something like, “I know I’ve let you down before. What steps can I take to show I will follow through on this?” Consciously listening for and responding to the underlying message helps the other person feel “known” and builds a foundation for trust.
Underlying all these—honor. Honor fundamentally changes how we interact with others.
Honor flows from genuinely believing in the unique, inherent worth of every person. When we adopt the mental framework of, “You matter. Your ideas matter. Your goals matter” for every conversation, the focus almost magically builds bridges of connection. As they experience the security of being honored, they become more willing to connect. And the relationship blossoms.
God’s gift of relationship through His Son was the first and best Christmas gift. The foundation of this season of joy. We hope these keys enable you to experience that joy as you build nurturing relationships with others—now and in the year to come.
If you would like more information about how to deal with struggling relationships, call 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We look forward to serving you.