Building Relationships That Last

Posted by Todd Smith

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Whether you’ve just recently dipped your toe into the pool of online social networking or you’ve been swimming in it for some time, you have probably realized that it’s all about relationships.

While the internet allows us to connect in new ways and stay connected regardless of where we are, the fundamental skills of building relationships remain unchanged.

Today’s lesson is an important reminder for all of us that the key to any long-term relationship is making sure that you give at least as much as you get.

The value of relationships

One of the most basic needs of humans is to have meaningful relationships with other people. Relationships connect us to each other in every aspect of our lives.

One of the greatest regrets many individuals express at the end of their lives is the lack of time they spent with their spouse, children, and special people. It’s time given to our loved ones and friends that fulfills us and brings meaning to our lives.

There are other benefits as well. Wholesome, long-term relationships bring happiness and health to our lives. Studies show that people with enriching relationships really do have more happiness and they experience less stress.

Long-term relationships require deposits

Enduring relationships are those that may last 5, 10, 15, or more years. Clearly, not every relationship falls into this category, but if you want to build a long-term relationship—one that feeds and sustains you in the different areas of your life—you will need to be deliberate about the time and attention you give.

For any relationship to last over a long period of time, it must be the kind where you offer value and meet the needs of the other person. I sometimes refer to this as making deposits into the relationship.

I like the way Anthony Robbins explains this concept.

“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give and not a place that you go to take.”

You can make deposits to any relationship by starting to do the little things that show your interest and that you truly care. Here are just a few of the 101 things you can do:

  • Send an email just to say hi without asking for anything.
  • Call to see how a son or daughter performed in a recent activity.
  • Send a card or email on a holiday or birthday to tell them you are thinking about them.
  • Express appreciation through a thank-you note or phone call for something done for you.
  • Help them in times of need.
  • Encourage them when starting new things.
  • Compliment them on the things they do well.
  • Be supportive during times of struggle and grief.

I try my best to make regular deposits into all my relationships. From listening to offering a helping hand when needed, I am intentional about putting more into the relationships I value than I ever plan to take out. Not only does this give me satisfaction from knowing that this is the right thing to do, it feels good and draws me closer to them.

How to nurture your relationships

The best way to nurture your relationships is to contribute to each of them according to their needs and expectations. Take a few moments to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the specific needs and expectations of my employer, customer, or client?
  • What are the needs and desires of my spouse or significant other?
  • What do my friends need in their relationships with me?

To help you put this lesson into perspective, make a note of the five people closest to you. These should be people with whom you have or desire to have a lasting relationship. Include on your list at least one family member, one friend, and at least one person you work for or with whom you do business.

Next, ask yourself, “What does ________ (someone’s name) need from a relationship with me and what can I do to provide it?”

Remember that what you decide to deposit into each relationship should depend on that person’s specific needs.

When you start asking what you can do to improve your relationships with others—rather than asking what they can do for you—your relationships will bring you joy and satisfaction and brighten the lives of those you care about.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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