I’ve learnt from my own experience that building authentic relationships takes courage and risk: the risk of being hurt, rejected or misunderstood. But I do know now that investing in authentic relationships is one of the most rewarding adventures we can ever undertake.
Here are five things you can do, to get started:
1. Work out your priorities. Do you find yourself spending time on the urgent at the expense of the important? Psychologists reckon that we can only maintain 10-15 close relationships at any one time. Any more and we are in danger of overloading. Decide which are your most important relationships and ask yourself whether they are getting enough of your attention.
2. Practise being a good listener. When you really listen to another person, you offer them a great gift. It demonstrates that you want to understand them better. If someone tells you something important, try to refrain from interrupting, giving advice or bringing the topic back to ‘you’.
3. Get emotionally naked. Deep connection with others requires vulnerability. It means allowing someone to get to know what is really going on inside of you – your hopes, dreams, fears, feelings and desires. To do that you will need to find people you can trust and who will trust you.
4. Say the last ten per cent. Whether it is telling someone how they’ve hurt us, showing our appreciation or confronting someone over a problem – it helps to say what we mean and mean what we say. People aren’t mind readers. Instead of expecting others to guess what we are thinking, we need to tell them. That means including the most important and final ten per cent - the bit so many of us shy away from expressing.
5. Take responsibility for your actions. When relationships go wrong, it can be tempting to blame the other person and to focus on all the ways that they need to change. The truth is we cannot make another person change, but we can alter our own reactions and behaviour. It only takes one to change the dynamic in a relationship.
I would love to hear how easy or difficult you find relating authentically and what has helped in your life. Please do leave a comment and let me know.