This is a guest post written by a friend and constant contributor to Well Being Magazine; Bill Badger. Bill is the writer of Beauty Learning, a blog which is for passionate, eclectic, intuitive types who believe that the world is too complex to be put in a box and wouldn’t have it any other way. He has a free report (on living with authenticity called It’s Not About Success) and a free newsletter on personality and relationships.
With Heart: listening
Our relationships, for most of us most of the time, are probably the major influence on our emotional lives. They are probably also the place where we live our emotions the most ? where we express our emotions most consistently and intensely.
Building a relationship means exposing our heart. Which can be risky. And so I think we need to be discerning. We may speak about a difficulty with our spouse to one friend, but not to the other (who is a gossip) and may not let it be known at work.
Building a relationship also means receiving with our heart. The most important way we do this is by listening. Even in relationships that are mostly about projects, if we work closely with others our heart gets involved. It may well help us solve the next problem if we have a relationship where listening can be relied on.
In intimate relationships, in my experience, listening is the single easiest way to improve a relationship. We can all think of a way to do it better, there is nothing bizarre or strange that we need to learn, and, in my experience, it pays huge dividends.
In my experience, if you want to improve any relationship, the first place to start is with listening.
With Head: patterns and plans
If our relationships are mostly about our heart, is there a place for our head? I think there is. Thinking about our relationships is relevant in two ways ? finding patterns in our relationships and planning for them.
Over time in our relationships we form habits, things like: rituals of meeting and greeting, and allocation of tasks that gradually don?t need to be discussed anymore. This I think is often a good thing ? it saves us time and energy. The danger is that our relationship can get stale. And then it is time to think about how we are relating.
One couple realised that if they discussed a problem between four and six in the afternoon, then the discussion didn?t go well. Not discussing problems then meant a happier relationship for the couple, an easy fix. There are lots of simple things that we can see contribute to a relationship ? my partner and I find it is often better to discuss things while going for a walk (unless they are particularly emotional). It is well worth looking for patterns in our relationships to find what helps and what doesn?t.
To talk about planning for a relationship sounds strange, but we often do it. We plan a holiday for instance. We can also plan to set aside time for working on a relationship ? whether to discuss the process of a meeting, to participate in a listening skills workshop, or for a couple to do a tantra workshop. We can, strangely, put off planning for what is most important ? the quality of our relationships. By prioritising and planning for our relationships our lives could become much more enjoyable.
With Hand: doing things with each other, and for each other
Relationships are more than thinking and feeling, they are what we do.
It is obvious that a relationship is something that we do together. And yet . . . who ensures that those office memos?s get passed on? When does the couple set aside time just to be together, or even talk through that issue that?s been hanging around for days (or weeks or, even perhaps, years)?
Setting aside time to be together is vital for any relationship. Making sure all the team are together to contribute to a project, spending time doing enjoyable things with our beloved, going out with friends . . . to build a relationship means spending time doing things with the people we?re relating to.
Doing things for each other is important. The major problem is when we feel forced to do something for another ? in which case we will likely feel resentful. It may be the other person, someone from outside the relationship, or our own beliefs that compel us: in either case resentment will likely be the result.
For resentment there is only one cure: make sure that you want to do what you do. Helping with the typing or phone answering at the office, doing the dishes or helping around the house, helping out friends . . . all these things strengthen our relationships.
Head, Heart and Hand Together
Any relationship will involve our head, heart and hand. Some relationships will have more of one than the other. Our romantic relationships will likely have more heart and our relationships at work will likely have more head or hand. But this means that these relationships may well benefit from more of the other two ? having a long, hard think about our current romance may be important; a bit more heart would not go amiss in many workplaces.
If we keep an eye on these three elements of our relationships we can build strong and healthy relationships.