How to maintain personal relationships (Pulse Contributor’s Opinion)

No matter who you are in life, you cannot live in isolation. Be it at home, the workplace or school, you will need to interact with people one way or the other. This is why maintaining personal relationships is all too important. In fact, there is compelling evidence that strong relationships lead to a longer, healthier and happier life.

How to maintain personal relationships

Here's how to maintain personal relationships.

1) Mutual Respect- In building strong relationships, there is the need for mutual respect among both parties. One guiding philosophy to keep in mind is the golden rule; treating others as you want to be treated. Doing unto others as you wish them to do unto you. If you don't want to be disrespected, do not disrespect your friends. If you don't want to be insulted, do not insult others. Always know your limits in your relationships. When someone trusts you enough to tell you a secret, keep it. When someone trusts you enough to invite you into their homes, respect that. Know your boundaries. Do not take advantage of that. Respect people's time, privacy and confidentiality. Mutual respect will help you to keep your relationships.

2) Effective Communication- There is no successful friendship which has survived without effective communication. If you want to keep your relationships, say only what you mean and in the proper way. Always mean what you say. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Put yourself at the receiving end. Will I like to be spoken to the way I speak to others? If I was told this, would I like it? Don't assume you know what the other party is thinking. Always confront issues head on, and very politely.

3) Sincerity- We all fall short in communicating well and respecting others. But the antidote to that is to be sincere. Did you forget to call that friend who has always been doing the calling? Apologize. Take responsibility for your role in maintaining the relationship and be open about why you couldn't return the favour. Did you forget to attend that friend's wedding or aunt's cousin's funeral, especially when they are always there for you in your times of need? Be sincere to them. Tell them how much of a bad friend you have been because you were so busy with work and your own life that you never found the time. Sincerity always works because the other person knows that you are not perfect but you are thoughtful.

4) Don't take things personal- Another way to maintain relationships is not to take things personal. Do not take to heart every word that people say. Sometimes hurtful speech from your friends may be more the product of thoughtlessness or a wounded heart rather than a mean or vengeful spirit. When people are happy, they loose talk. When they are sad, we can pardon them. But if you take everything said to you too personal, you will always be hurt. Always look at the context in which words are spoken. "You are a fool" on a happy day is not the same as "You are a fool" on a very serious important day. Take words spoken at you with a pinch of salt.

5) Forgiveness- If you are not ready to forgive, you are not ready to keep relationships. Relationships require forgiveness. In a world full of broken hearts, getting hurt is inevitable. All you need to do is to learn how to forgive. Forgiveness gives peace of mind and helps to maintain personal relationships. Forgive others even before they apologise or change. Release them from your heart otherwise every single one of your friendships will be short-lived.

6) Celebrate and accept differences- In every relationship, there will be differences in opinion, preferences, style, taste and worldviews. Agree to disagree. Understand that people are different. People didn't grow up the way you did. People were not exposed to the things you were exposed to. Family backgrounds and experiences are different. Embrace them all. Don't argue unnecessarily over things you know will not change. People will not always think like you do.

7) Listen More- I cannot over emphasize the importance of listening in maintaining relationships. Listening shows that you value the other person's opinion and friendship. Listening makes the other party more eager to open up and express their views. Listening is a skill. It must be learned. Aside boosting the speaker's self-esteem, listening validates the speaker's concerns like no other. When a person feels they can share a lot with you because you listen effectively, you have won a special place in their heart.

8) Support and commitment- Perhaps this is the most important of all. A strong and healthy relationship is based on support and commitment. Being able to support your friends can greatly improve your relationships. Since support is reciprocal, when you support your friends they will also support you when the time comes. After all, one good turn deserves another.

Contributor: Brenda Lutterodt

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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