Life is mostly about relationships. If you can master them, you can master anything. Unfortunately relationships can be very complicated, and the more important they are, the more likely this is to be the case. That’s why it’s so important to follow rock solid principles in order to build healthy relationships. Here I’ll share 7 principles that I’ve used to build strong bridges with everyone from my spouse to my comptroller.
Choosing the Right Relationships
Before we go any further, I need to emphasize that some relationships aren’t worth investing in. In fact, there are people who you should stay away from. We tend to become the people we surround ourselves with, which means we need to take extra care who our influences are and avoid toxic relationships at all costs.
Toxic people tend to be:
- Consistently negative and discontented
- Focused on problems
- Draining of your energy
If there are people around you who fit these descriptions, take a step back and assess if those relationships are really good for you. If they’re not, then you need to create boundaries and distance yourself from these people.
“Show me your five friends, and I’ll show you your future.”– Keith Craft
The 7 Principles for a Healthy Relationship
My mentor Steve Myrick used to tell me that to have a healthy relationship, you have to “lean in.” What he meant by “lean in” was to express empathy and seek clarity on a continual basis.
Empathy is the most important step in building healthy relationships. It’s the ability to see through someone else’s perspective. It doesn’t mean you agree with them, but you must understand the rules they’re playing by. Empathy is crucial, because without it you can’t understand the person across from you. Without this understanding, there will always be a limit to your ability to enjoy one another and work together effectively. When you understand another person’s perspective, you build trust. Conversely, callousness towards another person’s perspective creates anger, which kills relationships.
Listen Before Speaking
The world is full of people who are dying to be heard. Most people don’t feel listened to, and they’re aching for their friends, coworkers, boss, and spouse to be interested in what they have to say. All people want to be seen, heard, and valued. When people feel heard, they feel valued.
Simply be one of those few who are more interested in listening than speaking, and you will stand out like a garden in the desert. You will be trusted and well-regarded by almost everyone around you.
Seek to Learn From Those Around You
One way to train yourself to listen before you speak is to actively try to learn from the person across from you. Everyone knows things that you don’t, and it’s better to assume that everybody has something to teach you. Nobody likes a know-it-all, but most love a genuinely open mind.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”– The Dalai Lama
Our team at JPI has a saying: build bridges, not ditches. When you respect those around you enough to try and learn from them, the respect becomes mutual. Mutual respect is key for healthy relationships and is a powerful bridge between individuals. Moreover, you’ll find that people will surprise you when you actually try to learn about them. Most of our first impressions about people are wrong, so we should train ourselves to be more curious about people. We will become wiser when we are.
Be Respectfully Honest
In my experience, dishonesty in a relationship never pays and always comes back to destroy it sooner or later. Obviously nothing kills trust like being caught in a lie, but this isn’t the only kind of dishonesty that’s toxic to healthy relationships. More commonly, we don’t express how we feel when someone offends us.
When we perceive that someone has wronged us, it can be tempting to say nothing in the name of keeping peace. However, if we can’t truly forgive the offense and put it behind us, resentment will build. Furthermore, a person is more likely to do that same thing again if you don’t address it with them, and if that happens, your anger will only grow.
Rather than tiptoe around an issue, it’s better to tackle it head on in the most respectful way we can. Communicate why that thing bothered you. Avoid assuming anything bad about their intentions or saying anything that’s presumptive. Express your perception by using the phrases, “it seems like” or “it feels like”. Above all else, be authentic and trust that the other person will be willing to hear you out and find a solution with you.
Keep Your Word, Even if Others Don’t
My grandfather was a Pearl Harbor survivor and businessman. One thing that made him stand out from everyone else was that his handshake was as good as a written contract. If he gave his word, he was determined to follow through whatever the cost.
The overwhelming majority don’t live this way. That is exactly why you must. Nothing will make you stand out more than if you keep your word. You will work with people who don’t keep their word to you, and you’ll be tempted to return the favor. Resist. Treat them better than they treat you in this regard, and it will pay off.
Embody the Leader You Most Admire
Consider the people in your life that you most admire. What would happen if you started mimicking them? If you smiled as often as your grandmother and complained as little as your colleague, what would happen?
Here’s the truth: this can be you. There’s really nothing keeping you from being just like these people except unhealthy beliefs, a few bad habits, and some missing principles. Commit to being the blessing to others that your heroes are to you, and you will be a hero.
When In Doubt, Just Be Authentic
Tribes are built on genuinity, not genius. In the end, people would rather follow someone they trust than someone with a high IQ and a lot of deeds to their name. You are so attractive when you’re fully yourself – when you’re being the best version of you in the most honest way. So be real, and don’t doubt your own perspective.
Master Your Relationships With The Journey Principles
We at the Journey Principles Institute want you to have the best life you can by becoming the best person you can be. We believe it’s possible with the right principles and the discipline to follow through. Our free E books have valuable insight and action steps to help you get started, and you can download them here.