How to Have Better Relationships (In Love, At Work, With Family)

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Written By: Melissa Fiorenza

At a time in our country when relationships are being tested virtually every minute and every tweet, it’s more critical than ever to reevaluate how you treat others and challenge yourself to do better.

Your significant other, your colleagues, your family, your friends—assuming these are the people you spend the most time with, care the most about, or respect enough to want them in your life, nothing bad and so much good can come from strengthening those ties and improving your connections.

Feelin’ the love? Heed this advice from qualified relationship experts.


The pro:

Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS is a published mental health writer and relationship expert with more than a decade of experience in mental health. She holds advanced degrees in psychology/counseling from Indiana University, and has contributed articles to many mental health sites, including Project Know and On the Wagon.

 

Emily says:

1. Remember that all successful relationships take work.

2. Try to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Really listen to what they have to say. Focus on becoming a great listener.

3. Remember that you cannot change the other person. You can only change yourself.

4. Be honest with the other person. Healthy relationships are built on trust and honesty.

5. Know when and what to share. It is important to know when to share things and with whom. You would not want to share your whole life story with a colleague at work.


The pro:

Elisabeth Goldberg, LMFT, PLLC is a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City. A regular contributor to CNN and MSNBC, her certifications range from Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) to Family Mediation and beyond. She also has advanced training in mindfulness, stress and anger management, emotional regulation, sex therapy and premarital counseling.

 

Elisabeth says:

The key is perspective-taking. If you can learn to consider the other person’s perspective in any kind of interpersonal conflict, you will be better equipped to find your way back to the same page.

Interactions, like attachment, is a series of ruptures and repairs. Some go well, some don’t. When we believe so strongly in our point and won’t consider another person’s perspective, we are devaluing that person, in a sense. If we can rather present disagreement as “I see that we disagree and you have more knowledge in the area so I will allow your opinion to carry more weight.”

It comes down to resilience. How you handle daily inconveniences says a lot about your conflict style. Some people have difficult personalities and shouldn’t get married. They find this out as they are going through their first divorce. Most of them don’t learn and try again, but the divorce rate is higher for second and even higher for third marriages.

Some people have rigid personalities. They will have harder times in relationships. If you’re very accommodating, you may have peaceful relationships but be building up resentment.

If you can develop and practice the skill of considering other people’s perspectives, then the quality of all of your relationships will significantly improve.


The pro:

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C is a couples counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. His diverse background includes clinical experience in psychiatric outpatient settings, family therapy institutes, domestic violence units, community service agencies, and private counseling practices.

 

Raffi says:

One simple thing everyone can do to improve their relationships across the board is learn how to validate. Validating means listening to the other person and then reflecting it back so they hear that you understood them. It means holding off on disagreeing, sharing your opinion, convincing, debating, or defending. You don't have to agree with what the other person is saying; you just have to show that you understand them and are okay with them having the feeling they are having. Just this one habit alone can totally transform your relationships.                                                                                                                                    


The pro:

Rosalind Sedacca, CLC is a dating and relationship coach, author of several books including 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60!, e-courses, and programs on relationships, as well as the host of the Divorce, Dating &, Empowered Living radio show.

 

Rosalind says:

When we learn to take responsibility for all our actions and behaviors, we will naturally create better relationships. Keep these points in mind:

No one can fix or change you except you. If you believe a partner can make your life better, you're setting yourself up for disappointment and pain. Making our lives better is an inside job.

Focus on how you want to FEEL in a relationship. Not how you want your partner to look or behave. If you feel loved, supported, respected, valued in your relationship, you will be happy and enjoy the partnership. If you accept feeling neglected, abused, disrespected, etc. your relationship isn't worth maintaining. Change partners.

Be the partner you want to have in your relationship. If you don't show up with the attributes you want in a partner, how can you expect your partner to give that to you? If you want respect, honesty, caring, sharing and commitment, show that to your partner. Live up to your own expectations!


The pro:

Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in Charlotte, NC and the founding therapist at a thriving group counseling practice, Kaleidoscope Counseling. She specializes in mental health and relationship counseling.

 

Nedra says:

Healthy relationships with significant others, family, and at work involve having clear communication and boundaries. All relationships should be treated in a unique manner i.e. relationship dynamics should be openly discussed. Conversations can evolve in an indirect way by asking people their preference about certain things in relationships. In a dating relationship, you might ask something like “what do you think about cheating in dating relationships?”

Keeping relationships healthy is an active process of spending quality time and being vulnerable. To have close relationships we have to be willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s important that we show people how much we appreciate them.