Be it family, friends, boss or employees, all good relationships boil down to making them feel important and sharing what you have (be it knowledge or things) without any expectations. If you learn to enjoy this, you will have good relationships. And since your bandwidth is not infinite, it makes sense to focus on few but good relationships.
To nurture good relationships, there is a very important prerequisite. You must learn to be independent and enjoy solitude.
Independence and Solitude¶
Do things because you want to do them. This alone has made a significant contribution in saving many of my relationships. Do not commit to any plan/event purely because of your friend/family. For instance, if you aren't too keen on going to watch xyz movie, but your friend says he wants to go and it will be fun if you join him. You make sure to keep your schedule free that night to go to the movies. But in the last minute something comes up and your friend has to bail, you will feel unhappy that you accepted this whole plan because of him/her, but he ditched now your evening is wasted.
On the other hand, say you did want to watch that movie whether your friend came or not, and you made the plan with your friend to go watch the movie, then even if he/she cancels you still go watch the movie.
Life is too short, do what you want and in that journey if someone joins you great, if not, you still get to do what you want.
If you orient yourself to do things independently, and get comfortable doing them, for instance eating alone at a restaurant, backpacking by yourself etc. you will start having less expectations of people in your life. Less expectations reduces disappointment. And less disappointment is better for good relationship.
Make People Feel Important¶
The purpose of life is to feel important. If you learn this simple truth, you can use this to nurture great relationships and influence people without having to scare them to meet your expectations to avoid your disappointment.
- Better than a devil's advocate be a Hidden Angel.
- Be present physically on their important life events. I have travelled 1000s of kilometers to be with a friend on the day he quit his job and was leaving back home, I have travelled to a different state when a friend started his own business, I have travelled to different countries to make it to weddings of my friends, I have travelled to be there when they have their baby etc. No one, not even my friends or their parents or their spouses expect me to be there. But I am there.
- Listen. Most times people don't want advice. They just want someone to listen to their problems. When you meet them give them your full attention. Don't take calls, check your phone, bail on them etc.
- Think a hundred times before you commit to them. After you commit, regardless of costs, logistics, keep up your promise. If you say you will do this for them, then do it.
- Acknowledge their quirks and accept them. Don't try to change them. For instance, if a friend of yours has a habit to lose track of time and always comes late, instead of being frustrated by it and think he doesn't value your time, accept it as his quirk. Plan for it. Bring a book and spend the time reading while waiting for him.
- Be there for them. Even if everything is fucked up, just be there and be in a position where you can tell them "Don't worry dude, we will figure it all out and we will make things work."
- No matter what, family first. Make whatever sacrifices you have to, but make sure you are there for family.
- Meet them in person.
People are to be loved and things are to be used. The root cause of all evil is things are loved and people are used. Be a minimalist. Detach yourself from things. Anything I have, that my friends/family/employees need, I give it to them. I spent most of my teens and 20s backpacking and have learned to tolerate discomfort and be content with bare minimum.
Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas.
Share knowledge, ideas and have deep conversations with people. That is the best way to connect with people. I have a rule of 3. When ever I meet anyone, I make sure there are at least 3 news things they learned that day from the conversation with me. People hangout with me because they get intellectually stimulated.