Many relationships start with plenty of enthusiasm – we think they will last forever. Other times, they begin slowly and progress surely. Regardless of how the relationship starts started, you have a responsibility to stoke the fires if it will ever become strong or last.
Building a relationship takes effort. The effort can be tiring and tough when it is one-sided. However, we all benefit from strong relationships with peers, colleagues, neighbours, family, etc. There’s a way to go about it.
How to Build Strong Relationships
When it comes to building strong relationships, I have a four-step process I use. You can sum it up in the acronym ‘CAVE’ – Compassion, attention, vulnerability, and empathy.
Compassion is showing concern for the welfare of others in a bid to help out. It is not enough to know what people are going through. You should be favourably disposed to helping out in your way. To show compassion, you must intentionally reach out to people to find out how they are doing and invest the time to respond to their concerns and help out if need be.
To be attentive is to focus on someone intent on listening to them deeply. This kind of listening is devoid of distraction, judgement, or a desire to respond. When you learn to pay attention, you’ll become aware of the words behind the words and the voice behind the voice. That’s when you’ll be able to reach out and meet people where they are.
Nobody likes appearing vulnerable. However, our strongest relationships are often the ones where we are most open. To be vulnerable then is to be without dissimulation – that ability to be yourself without needing to pretend. It’s in such a space you can acknowledge your actions, right or otherwise, and also share how others make you feel.
Empathy forces you to go beyond yourself to understand and identify with why people feel the way they do. Many people can be sympathetic (understand things from their perspective), but it takes a special kind of person to be empathic (understand from others’ perspectives).
When you invest in the right relationships, you are also investing in yourself. You can’t get out of a relationship what you have not invested. You cannot build strong relationships with people if you’re not willing to be compassionate, attentive, vulnerable, and empathic.
How do you build strong relationships? Please let me know in the comments section.