Skills to enrich your relationships

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Dr Margaret Mwenje

To maintain meaningful relationships, you have to tune up your inter-personal skills. It feels good to be able to make people enjoy your company. If you want people to enjoy being around you, then stop complaining all the time. If you are always whining, people will avoid you. Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth closed than open it and nag.

Negative, toxic talk will do your relationships more harm than good. A negative attitude invites negative results.

When you meet new people at work or in social gatherings, make it a habit to remember their names. You may find yourself in a situation where you will be expected to introduce your colleague whose name you can’t remember.

People have names and personal identity. Therefore, don’t call them buddy, friend or colleague, simply because you can’t remember their names. In a classroom situation, if a student knows that the teacher knows him by name, this makes him feel good and important to that teacher. The same case applies to interpersonal relationships.

Birds of a feather

Try to relate with other people by focusing on the similarities you share with them. We all know that birds of the same feather flock together. If you send a message to other people that you are different from them, you know better, you are smarter, you have it all, and so on, they will try to avoid you. Focus on the commonality.

This will make it easier for others to connect with you. It is not too hard to get a common ground, consider things such as hobbies, shared values, interests and roles such as parenting and career.

Make sure you create a friendly atmosphere for those around you. Try to show a caring attitude, compliment other people, show unconditional positive regard, and be genuine, understanding and trustworthy. These qualities will make people able to relax in your presence.

Comfortable in your presence

They will want to spend more time with you because you make them feel comfortable in your presence. Nobody will want to hang out with you if don’t make the atmosphere around you conducive for them. If you don’t make your home or office welcoming and friendly, then people will be avoiding it like a toxic erupting volcano.

It is okay to get angry. We all get angry at some point. However, it is important to manage your anger in a constructive way instead of projecting it to those around you. Nobody wants to be around an angry person, not even a cat because it will receive a hostile kick.

Make sure you don’t communicate to your friends or those around you when you are angry. If you hold a lot of anger in you, you will be like a bomb that is likely to go off anytime. Then those around you will try as much as possible to avoid you because you are dangerous. Use the STAR method to manage your anger — Stop, Think, Analyse the situation and, then, Respond. This will prevent you from blowing up your friends or those around you with anger outbursts.

Apologise for mistakes

Learn to apologise when you wrong others. It is not a sign of weakness to say you are sorry. Your friends will understand and like you more when you apologise. However, learn from your mistakes because your friends may not be patient with you if you keep on getting in the same old mess; their patience may ran out.

It is okay to apologise to children when you have wronged them. This helps them to learn how to say sorry. They will also know that even adults make mistakes. Otherwise they will hide or run away from you when they make a mistake or internalise their guilt, which will undermine their self confidence and worth.

Try to do some self-exploration about your people skills. Think about how you relate with those around you and whether they like or enjoy being around you or your presence is intimidating and frightening. Skills are learnt and practice makes perfect. You still have a chance to tune up your interpersonal relationships.

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