Can you have a good relationship with everyone?
The answer is yes. It may be more difficult getting along with some people than the other, but it is possible. Our problem is — we apply the same approach to every person, expecting them to fit in our circle. When they don’t meet our expectation, our opinion changes about them. But hey, isn’t everyone supposed to be caring, loving, thoughtful etc.? Sure… is that how everyone is? Absolutely not. So, how do we get along?
The answer is…
- You need to learn to observe first. Ok, what does that mean and how does it help us getting along with people? It means paying attention to yourself, your environment, and others around you. Sounds simple, right? But practice this before you jump into the next step using the following examples: E.g. “I notice I’m thinking about the argument I had with my kid.’ or “I notice my heart beats faster when I speak in a team meeting.”
- When you start noticing the patterns in your own and other people’s behavior, you become aware. This is the basis. You’ll be able to see how often positive or negative emotions appear to affect your judgment, state of mind or your physical health.
- Then you take the time to think over those behaviors as objectively as possible, putting aside your feelings and emotions (put them away, lock them up somewhere). Use your past experiences with that person (if you had any), if you didn’t have any, doing this more often will eventually start triggering observation automatically.
- Avoid judgment, simply think of facts.
1st example: My friend said she would call me back because someone came to visit her while we were on the phone.
2nd example: My friend said she would call me back. She never really put me above other people.
Let me explain why these two situations demonstrate our daily struggle with other people. The first example states facts. All you know is someone came to visit your friend while both of you were on the phone. She said she would call you back. That’s it. There’s no side information that would indicate anything else.
If you listen to the 2nd example, how does it even sound to you? My friend said she would call me back. She never really put me above other people… In this example you can hear judgment, you can hear expectation as opposed to the first example.
Sometimes people bring their subjective into both examples and I used to do that too in the very beginning as I started paying more attention to behavioral patterns. They could say, “Well, what if something happened and she needed to go. She promised to call me back, so I’ll just wait.”
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sure, you at least don’t judge the person. However, you still have an expectation left. If that person doesn’t call you back, that’s when you might retrace back to the thinking: “Wow, she really forgot about me, didn’t she? I thought we were best friends.” You still are!
Here’s what it means for you.
You expect people to fit in your vision of the relationship that you want to have. There is a big BUT here — you cannot and should not hope that the other person will magically get in your head and figure out how you want the relationship to be. Don’t get me wrong, it goes both ways. The difference is, you are the one currently reading this post trying to figure out how to improve your relationship with people.
This is why it’s crucial to understand that when you make that step and you learn to observe rather than make assumptions or expect people to treat you a certain way, then you can direct your relationship. There needs to be communication between the parties. Because you are more knowledgeable already, you can coach that person, you can help them in order to help both of you to improve your relationship.
How to avoid creating a conflict in a conversation.
I will note one thing, if you really wanted to follow up on the call situation, wording would be very deciding. You could either find out what happened and move on or you could create a conflict.
1st example: “Is everything ok?”
“I just wanted to make sure. We didn’t finish our phone conversation yesterday”.
“Oh, yeah, I’m so sorry, I forgot to call you back. I got distracted.”
“You’re totally fine. Do you have time now?”
2nd example: “Hey, I thought you were gonna call me back?”
“Oh, darn, sorry, I got distracted and forgot.”
“Well, I waited for you to call me back because you said you would..”
“Okay…well, sorry, I forgot.”
“Just don’t promise to call me back if you’re not going to. Do you have time to talk now?”
“Uhm.. I got some work to do. Let’s talk later.
Why does it work?
If you think about these two conversations you will see that in the first one our main character made the first step and asked if everything was ok to make sure it was fine to proceed with the conversation. Their friend responded positively. Now that’s when the time is to remind them of the call. The friend apologized and our protagonist asked them if they had time to talk.
In the 2nd conversation our main character immediately attacked their friend making them feel uncomfortable and didn’t accept the apology. The reason I say that, just because someone says “I’m sorry”, whatever you say after doesn’t automatically acknowledge the apology. Now the friend felt they needed to apologize again, because our main character went on attacking them. Would anyone want to continue the conversation after they have just been told off like that? I highly doubt.
This is why wording and tone are very important. In other cases, people could reflect back and start getting aggressive and not talk to each other for days when it was very much avoidable.
Ever heard of active listening?
Applying active listening and compassion can certainly aid you in most situations whether it’s at home or work. You don’t always have to give your opinion on just everything people say. This is the problem I had a few years ago. I felt the need to throw my opinion in just every conversation I had and I would’ve saved myself so much trouble and the job I had, had I just listened and accepted the information, but I was stubborn and I thought I was right. This was my biggest mistake: Thinking that no matter the situation “I’m right” because I’m so smart.
Guess what! My emotions took over my mind. I couldn’t think straight. All I was focused on was people’s flaws, lack of communication, carelessness and I could never focus on anything positive that people brought into my life. People told me my heart was in the right place but my methods… my methods were horrible. Everyone hated my guts and nobody wanted to work with me. Now can you imagine what kind of environment I created at work? I wanted to help people but at the same time I was judging them for who they were. I didn’t let myself accept them in order to actually help them. What it seemed I was doing was fixing their mistakes instead which to me was “helping” at the time because I didn’t believe they could learn from that.
The result? Ahh.. I get along with everyone.
Two years later, I calmly approach people. I help them when they need help, not just fix mistakes like I used to. Instead, I bring mistakes to their attention for correction and train to avoid them in a manner that is accepted by those people. Based on their personalities, on the knowledge I have about them. I don’t judge them or their behavior.
Body language shouldn’t be neglected. I personally speak with my hands all the time because they reflect my mood and my style of communication. When I know I need to approach people, I suppress my body language to remain as neutral as possible.
It is very easy to give the wrong impression using your body language. I would suggest you be careful with that. I also don’t go to people saying, “Hey, you shouldn’t do this and that”. On the contrary, I come up to them thinking carefully, noticing their mood. Based on that I will have to make sure I stay neutral no matter what they say.
A phrase like: “Hey, I didn’t realize we started doing it differently? Do you know anything about it?” Depending on their response, if you disagree you can say “Huh, I could’ve sworn we were told to do it this way”, and you show them what you mean. If you both still disagree, you will need to find a third party to confirm the correct way. This is applicable in a work situation. It is quite different at home.
It’s such a challenge for us to understand each other. We’re so different. Although, some people believe they are soul mates or their thinking and behavioral patterns are similar. It’s still work that needs to be done in order to build trust, in order to gain respect for each other.
Like I said in my previous episode, when you practice active listening, you let people speak from their heart. You show that they matter. What they think or believe matters. Even if you disagree with it. So what? Look at it as a perspective that differs from yours. If we were to think the same thoughts, why would there be so many of us? Well, there is free will and the potential in contemplating is just infinite. That potential needs an opportunity to exist. That’s why there are billions of us with various personalities, preferences etc.
We teach each other. We learn from each other. It’s never a one-way street even though it may seem like that. Your actions, reactions, words, thoughts, feelings, emotions — all of that is what you are. The moment you learn to accept that is the moment you’ll learn to accept other people and respond to their beings appropriately.