Relationship problems can kill your progress in life. On the flip side, strong relationships give you power and reduce the number of problems you face overall.
None of us will travel a completely smooth road in life. Things go wrong and put our world in a spin. Usually the first thing we do is reach out to our friends and family, even our colleagues, to help us get back on track. That’s when you find out how strong those relationships really are—and how important that support is.A strong network of people to turn to for support is a priceless asset. Click To Tweet
Most problems we face in life fall into two categories: relationship problems or project/task problems. Overcoming obstacles with people—a spouse, a boss, a friend, a coworker—can be draining and tough, much harder than solving lots of other problems. The best option is to avoid relationship problems entirely.
Knowing how important relationships are to your happiness and success, and realizing that you have the opportunity to eliminate a major source of problems, it only makes sense to take the time to strengthen every important relationship in your life. If you do it now, every day, when a time of need comes, you’ll be able to get unstuck and make progress faster. If you’re wondering how to win at life, strong relationships are an important part of the answer.
With three simple strategies, you’ll not only avoid a lot of potential problems in your relationships, you’ll also build powerful personal networks that can help you accomplish great things.
1. Invest and stay engaged.
I’ve said it many times and it’s just as true in relationships: The number one thing you can control to improve your odds of success is your effort. If you want a relationship to be strong, you need to put in the effort to keep it interesting and to stay engaged.
Of course the intensity of effort will be different for each relationship. If you’re married or have children, you need to be all-in—it’s not 50-50, it’s 100-100. Keep things fresh and new to stay excited about your future together. Maybe you travel together regularly, pick up a new shared hobby, or take a class together—whatever it takes to give you new and interesting things to talk about, and more shared memories.
With coworkers, you might invest less energy, but if you want strong relationships at work—and you do!—you still have to invest. Make a point of going to lunch at least once a month with each of the people you really value at work. Check in once a week to ask them how a tough project is going or to show your support on a big goal. If you want other people to be interested in what’s going on with you, you have to show interest in what’s going on with them.
As a leader, invest in your relationship with each team member. Check in daily and ask questions that reveal your interest in their work. Get to know them on a professional and a personal level. Show that you value their work and that you’re interested in their success.
2. Be flexible.
In marriages, the number one contributor to the success is the willingness of both to compromise sometimes. Lots of studies have shown that both people need to value the relationship more than getting their own way all the time.
But it’s just as true in any relationship—say, between colleagues or between a leader and her team. Confident leaders know they don’t have to be right all the time and they don’t have to always be the one who comes up with the right answer. Valued coworkers contribute to and challenge the team without forcing their ideas down other people’s throats.
- A leader has to evaluate herself by asking: “Am I more interested in getting to the right answer or the right decision, or am I more interested in getting my way on every decision?”
- We should all ask: “Am I arguing with my colleagues because I really think that my idea is the best idea? Or do I just want to be right?”
The longer a relationship, the more likely we’ll become rigid in it. It’s like the difference between a five year old who can twist himself into a pretzel and a fifty year old who can barely touch his toes. It happens as we age, but it also happens as our relationships age and we fall into patterns of behavior. Audit yourself and make sure you’re not becoming too rigid.
3. Focus on the fundamentals.
In every relationship, we want two things: to feel cared for and to feel respected. So for the important relationships in your life, show people that you care about them and respect them. It’s not rocket science.
- Don’t be a jerk. Treat people well.
- When your spouse, a friend, or a colleague is struggling, offer to help if you can. Be a giver, not just a taker.
- Congratulate them on wins. Be empathetic about losses.
- Think before you speak.
I could go on, but the point is to think about how you treat the important people in your life (and everybody else, too). Ask yourself, “Am I showing that I care? Am I showing respect?”
Remember:With a strong team, even if it’s just a team of two, magical things can happen. Click To Tweet