Our relationships are more valuable than all of our other assets combined; yet they are also the assets that we tend to take-for-granted the most. Employers expect their employees to be loyal, without bothering to ask what makes people loyal. Couples neglect their mates’ needs, yet expect their mates’ love to remain the same. People often hurt those closest to them and don’t even notice until it’s too late. Sadly, the number one reason couples give for divorce in this country is feeling taken-for-granted.
So how are your relationships doing? Are they healthy, or do they need a little nourishment? If you are not sure, consider how many of these boxes you can check off as completed at the end of each day:
___ 1. I played with them.
Play with people often. Families that play together, really do stay together.
___ 2. I listened to them.
When people need to speak their minds, try to listen without interrupting, arguing, or offering advice.
___ 3. I was clear with them.
Always set clear and consistent boundaries. My favorite technique for this is called Three Strikes You’re Out.
___ 4. I didn’t make assumptions.
Don’t assume that people want the same thing you want. Learn how to clarify your expectations before getting involved.
___ 5. I told them why I appreciate them.
Take the time to tell people how you feel about them; tell them how they contribute to your life.
___ 6. I didn’t do anything that I didn’t choose to do.
Learn to say no when you need to.
___ 7. I was empathetic.
Never tell an emotional person to calm down; it will only make them more emotional. Just acknowledge their feelings with empathy until they calm down on their own.
___ 8. I told the truth in everything.
Never lie; even white lies can make people doubt your integrity.
___ 9. I remembered to be caring.
Always say please and thank you, especially to those that you think are required to listen to you. They don’t.
___ 10. I didn’t offer criticism without its being constructive.
Never offer criticism unless you use the Ten Steps of Constructive Criticism.
___ 11. I took some time to understand them.
Ask the people in your life about their dreams, needs, and wants.
___ 12. I didn’t label, or judge them.
Never label anybody. All labels, even positive ones, tend to create limits. Languages are comprised of labels, so it’s no wonder we feel a compulsive need to label everyone. People are either friend, or foe; employee, or boss; with you, or against you; above you, or below you. Unfortunately, labels represent ideals, and people don’t conform well to ideals. In fact, there’s really only one label that ever helps someone to grow, and that’s the label of human.
So how many of these items would you honestly be able to check off at the end of each day? The more you can check off, the more your relationships will grow. Obviously, we all have our ups and downs, so check off what you can on the days when you are feeling up, and your relationships be able to sustain you on those days when you are feeling down. Ignore them completely, and you may wake up someday alone.