It is critical to change our own mindset to improve our relationships with others. Stop trying to control others. Instead, focus on your own thoughts, actions, and words.
Here are three secrets to dramatically improve your relationship with others:
1. Initiate with love
Be proactive and stop being reactive. Instead of responding to what happens to you, initiate with love through kind actions or words. If in the past you've had a difficult encounter with someone else, you should be the one to approach them with genuine care and love. When a loved one comes home, greet them at the door with a big smile, hug, and a kiss. When you see a co-worker, comment on their positive attributes and characteristics that you truly admire. Perhaps write a thoughtful note expressing gratitude for the work that they do or the importance they might hold in your life. Perhaps do a favor for someone else. If people remember you as someone who offers them love and kindness, they will view you in a more positive light and will be more likely to respond in kind. But make sure you do this without expecting anything in return. It might take some time before love comes back to you. Don't rely on others to make you happy. Focus on gratitude in your own life and just offer love from a strong sense of self.
2. Listen with an open mind and heart
When someone is stressed, angry, sad, or feels the need to complain or vent, don't try to offer advice or say anything that begins with the words: "well at least..." and then complete the sentence with something like "Well at least you're alive" or "Well at least you're not alone." This isn't really listening to someone else.
Make sure you listen to truly hear someone rather than listen in order to respond. Try not to say anything while listening. Just give physical cues that you're listening. If you must speak, just go: "Hmmm" with a considerate head nod. Even if there's a pause in the share, just wait and provide space for that person to continue. More often than not, that person will continue to empty their cup, so to speak. People might want to share a lot, whether it's positive or negative. Do this in your personal relationships and in your work relationships. Don't look at your phone or your computer. Don't be distracted by others around you. This will pull you away from listening and the other person will feel insignificant. Instead, really listen. If they ask you for advice or your thoughts, then you may provide them. But if they don't ask for advice or your response, DON'T GIVE IT!
3. Respond with empathy
When we feel seen and heard, we feel understood and loved.
If someone acted in a way that may be frustrating, respond with grace, love, and kindness. For instance, is someone spilled something, rather than get mad, imagine what it might be like to spill something. It's most likely not intentional and it probably feels embarrassing. Instead of punishment, offer help!
When my students act out of the ordinary, I usually ask them if they're okay. I assume the best intention from each person. I don't punish. I don't get mad. I don't yell. Why would I want to make their day worse? Instead, I just offer love. Imagine yourself in their shoes and think about what you would want to hear in response to your own words and actions.
Remember to initiative with love, listen with an open heart and mind, and respond with empathy and I guarantee your relationships will improve.