When our relationships are humming along we tend to feel good about life. But when even one relationship is out of whack it can have a negative effect that ripples through our lives. Negative interaction with someone in our lives, whether it’s a co-worker, partner, child or friend, or even a stranger on the street, can send us into an internal monologue and external justification offensive that consumes our attention, thoughts and good humor.
Sound relationships are the foundation of our success and satisfaction at home, at work and at play. Yet, we’re juggling so many of them (in person, through our inbox, texts, phone and social media) that we can easily end up feeling overwhelmed and ineffective.
Maintaining healthy relationships is imperative… and daunting.
If you’re looking for a little relationship refinement here are 4 simple things that can help.
1. Go to bed.
Studies show that getting enough sleep gives you relationship super powers like being kind and empathetic and engaged and approachable.
Conversely, without enough sleep, we grapple with mood swings, give off a vibe that screams “unapproachable,” act irritable, and even more aggressive.
One study conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that “after just one night of less than optimal sleep we are 60% more likely to be more emotionally reactive and unable to put emotional experiences into context or produce controlled, appropriate responses.”
In other words, better rested = better relationships
2. Step away from your phone (and other devices).
A warm smile.
They seem simple enough but really they are the superstars of connection.
Yet, when we’re peering at a screen we’re doing less of both.
The result of too much screen time is leaving us with an underlying feeling of loneliness that can be hard to shake.
If you’re guilty of sneaking a peek at a device while a colleague, child, friend or partner tells you a story it’s not that you’re evil but rather that our screens are engineered to be captivating. Which means we need to consciously make a choice to put them away and focus on the people in the room.
3. Make the first 2 minutes positive.
Whenever you enter a room or pick up the phone or send a note you have the opportunity to set the stage.
These first few minutes of any encounter determine the mood for the entire interaction.
That means that if we walk through the door at home or our office with a complaint on our lips about traffic and a list of all the things we already feel behind on running through our head, we have set the stage for disconnection and negativity.
So unless the sky is really falling, walk through the door with your phone put away, a smile on your face and a funny or upbeat story ready to share and after a short two minutes you’ll have set the stage for more satisfying interactions.
4. Find and capitalize on “improbable moments of grace.”
I love the idea of spotting “improbable moments of grace,” a phrase coined by Anne Lamont.
When someone shares something positive, get excited. Follow up with questions or ask them to recount the event so you can both relive the moment and the good feeling.
And if there is nothing obviously good to celebrate, find an improbable moment of grace (your hair didn’t frizz in the rain, you were listening to an awesome pod cast so didn’t mind hitting every red light, the wet phone in the rice trick actually worked… you get the idea) and share it with whomever you are with because positivity is infectious and relationship changing.
Bonus: Research shows that focusing on the positive for just 10 seconds helps your brain see the upside faster.
Three cheers for knowing that finding the positive gets easier and easier over time.