1. Check your baggage. In order to have healthy relationships, you first have to strive for a healthier you. Bringing your baggage into relationships generates opportunities for conflict, so do your emotional homework. It may help to review my previous post on self-esteem [link to post 10] as you take steps to strengthen yourself. Your personal growth means happier times with others.
2. Consider your social wealth. Just as Optimal Living 360 looks at the major aspects of life in terms of return on investment, it may be particularly helpful to look at your relationships through this lens. The quality and depth of your relationships are part of your wealth. What is the state of your social wealth? Have you invested enough in your friendships? Your family? Have you concentrated too much on your guys’-night-out crowd and not enough on your office colleagues? Take some time to look at the big picture, and then reallocate your time and energy as needed.
3. There is such a thing as TMI. Honesty, at the beginning of any relationship, is a good thing. However, too much information (TMI) is not always the best idea. You don’t need to talk about past failed relationships, your hemorrhoids, or the details of your bathroom habits on a first date. Use discretion and common sense. Be open, but you don’t have to spill your guts.
4. Don’t be a faker. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. People aren’t that stupid. No one wants to hear you brag about your money, your cars, or your rock-star mansion. And by all means, don’t start off a relationship with lies. The longer a lie stays in action, the more it will hurt everyone involved when the truth comes out. If you acknowledge your reality by including your faults rather than hiding them, people will come to appreciate, respect, and accept you even more.
5. Listen to yourself. What you say is important, but so is how it sounds. Be aware of your vocal tones. Higher-pitched sounds give off a feeling of anxiousness, while if you use lower tones you’ll sound less stressed. Make some recordings at home to practice and analyze what you hear. If the tone of your sentences goes up at the end, you will sound unsure, as if you are asking a question. End your statements with a period to sound more confident.
6. Learn the art of allowing. Sometimes relationships need to follow their own timelines. There is no need to start early conversations with super-intense questions. Keep it light at first; use open-ended questions, and allow the conversations to grow on their own into greater complexity. After you speak, leave space to receive a well-considered answer. Stay positive, stay in touch, and if deeper sharing is to happen, it will blossom when the time is right.
Sanjay Jain is a US-trained Board Certified physician, with over 15 years of clinical experience. He is the author of the new book, OPTIMAL LIVING 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life (Greenleaf, February 2014). Sanjay represents a new wave of thought leadership and expertise developed not only from his medical and financial education, but also his life experiences. Follow Sanjay on Twitter at @sanjayjainmd and visit his website at SanjayJainMD.com.