Five tips for happy, healthy relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships is a significant part of our lives, be it with our colleagues, with our friends or our loved ones. Each relationship we foster makes up a part of who we are and contributes to our success and development.

Here’s five tips to help build and maintain happy healthy relationships.

Remember your strengths – and theirs, too

When we meet someone new or hear a story from a colleague or family member, it’s easy to compare our own situations with theirs. Playing the comparison game not only may contribute to feelings of low self-esteem and envy; those feelings may also consequently put strain on the relationship with that person. Of course, avoiding comparison is harder in an age of social media, where people are prone to showcase filtered life moments. It’s important to take a minute to think about our own strengths and successes, and to get into a habit of appreciating the different strengths of those around us – far better than indulging the company of the green-eyed monster.

Communication = connection

It’s perfectly natural to fall in sync to the habits and rhythms of those with whom we’ve grown close to over years and years. It becomes easy to predict thoughts, read body language and understand subtle facial expressions. However, there may be times when things are misinterpreted; when we read signs differently or make incorrect assumptions. That’s why clear communication is vital. Make time for robust conversations – and be an active listener. Ask questions to make our colleagues or loved ones really feel heard, and we’ll find that same effort is reciprocated. Face-to-face interaction also minimises misunderstandings so, instead of emailing colleagues in the same building, why not pick up the phone or go over and see them?

Be flexible to growth

Remember that as we grow and change, so to do our relationships with those around us. Big life changes like moving to a new city or country, getting married, having children, or getting a promotion at work, naturally have effects on the relationships we have. By accepting new parameters of relationships and being open to adjustments and compromises, we ease the strain of potential conflict and complications that may add extra challenges. If the effort is put in and realistic expectations are set, strong relationships can handle anything!

Maintain independence

Sounds ironic, right? Healthy relationships actually involve people who celebrate each other’s individuality and ability to freely be who they are. Embracing our different interests also keeps our relationships dynamic, and opens up the possibilities for us to learn and grow ourselves.

Yes, healthy disagreements are a thing

Even the strongest relationships face their challenging times – the secret to overcoming them is to understand the concept of healthy disagreement. Our colleagues and loved ones are bound to say or do something to annoy us at some point, so it’s important to approach the matter in a constructive way. Speak calmly about concerns, hear what the other person has to say without interrupting them, and be willing to compromise on a solution so that both parties are satisfied that there’s a fair outcome.

Respectful, loving and healthy relationships can be the most rewarding part of life. They can support us through the hard times and make the good times even better. However, we can’t take our relationships for granted and the reality is good relationships require work. The good news is, a little bit of care, good communication and support goes a long way.

Source: This is an edited extract from ‘Happy, healthy relationships’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at https://benestar.com/. For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit https://www.afa.asn.au/afa-care