What is life without people enduring it by your side? The meaningful and valuable relationships we create are what make the gift of life so incredible. Instead of wasting time and energy creating short and superficial relationships, start building long-lasting and significant ones. Strong professional relationships, closer bonds with family, well-rounded friendships, or healthier ties with your significant other, all require meeting the same basic needs.

Open Your Communication

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Open and honest communication sets the foundation for deep and healthy relationships. Consider open communication to be all forms of relaying information:

  • Face-to-face verbal interaction 
  • Body language 
  • Phone calls 
  • Video calls 
  • Texts 
  • Emails

The best form of communication is always face-to-face verbal interaction but being able to communicate effectively in other methods is also important. When you’re making a phone call, keep in mind that voice inflection, talking rate, and enunciation are your only means of getting your point across clearly. The person on the other end of the line can’t see your face, but many people can tell if you’re smiling while you’re talking. So, smile like you mean it! The same principles apply for video calls, but this time you’re visible, so treat it like a face-to-face interaction.

For texts and work chats it’s okay to be short and sweet. But before you hit send, let someone else read it and make sure that your message doesn’t come across as rude. Oh, and don’t be afraid to hit spell-check if your program doesn’t do it automatically.

If you’re texting/emailing with someone that you’ve known for a while, they’ll probably be able to interpret your tone correctly, but a new friend or colleague might not. Although it may take a little more time, consider lengthening your messages or adding emoticons to show your emotion. And don’t forget … a big part of effective communication is listening.

Be Dependable and Trustworthy

A pair of white manakin hands have interlocked pinkies.

In all the relationships you enter, operate under the rule that promises made are promises kept. This doesn’t just mean saying, “I promise.” Instead, treat every word or statement as a guarantee. If you tell your significant other that you’re going to do something, do it. Did you tell your teammate that you’d put together a list of the remaining clients needing to be contacted? Then put together that list or contact the clients yourself.

Dependability and trustworthiness go hand in hand. Stand by your word and people will trust you. When people trust you, they share aspects of their life with you more freely. And if the trust is reciprocated, you can choose to be vulnerable, too. As you both share more frequently, you’ll get to know one another on a deeper level. Many professional relationships develop into great friendships. 

Recognize and Respect Each Other’s Needs

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Occasionally, we all need a little space to breathe and think. But often, we forget that we all need that space. Another must of relationships is being able to recognize and respect the other person’s need for space, alone time, and boundaries. For example, if you approach a team member who seems focused, instead of starting a conversation with them, ask, “Hey, do you have time to talk?” This gives them the option to start a conversation or see if you can come by at another time when they are less busy.

If your significant other seems overwhelmed, recognize it and find out what you can do to help. Consider lightening their load by doing all the household chores. If you can’t seem to figure out why your partner is overwhelmed, ask what you can do to help. Some people don’t want to be helped, and just need some time alone.

To avoid conflicts or being insensitive, determine each other’s boundaries. If you have a teammate who tends to overshare, let them know that you’re glad they feel comfortable sharing, but that you’d prefer to change the topic. Instead of listening to them spout stories about their personal life (in too much detail), ask them if you can talk about something work related. It’s okay to keep a professional relationship strictly about work. You can’t make a friend out of everyone.

Give Your Support

One final important part of a relationship is the element of support. Your team members, your spouse, your family, and your friends need to know that you have their back. Show them that if they need you, you’ll be there. Do this with your actions, your words, and your energy. If you say you’ve got their back but don’t mean it, they’ll know. Be genuine and demonstrate that you truly care about their growth and success.

When you put all these components together, you guarantee that your relationships will strengthen and prosper. If you’re looking for one more way to demonstrate your dependability in a relationship, learn to become more accountable for your actions.