Hello Dear Reader. If there were a few things that you could do in every relationship that would increase trust, mutual care, or respect, would you do them?
So here’s this week’s post including these things you could do in every relationship!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, wherever you currently are on the spectrum.
Many relationships start with a look. It’s maybe a look of immediate love as with a parent and a child, or a look of interest as with a friend or future romantic partner, or maybe what we could call a look of intrigue as with a business partner or project partner. It often starts with some sort of a look. Given that, I’ve put together these things to do in every relationship and it’s in an acronym, L.O.O.K.
These 4 things to do in every relationship will take a current healthy relationship in the direction of a healthier relationship as well. They all come from a passage of Scripture you might be familiar with if you have been to wedding where they talked about what love is, or if you have read the book of 1 Corinthians where Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to care well for one another in Chapter 13.
Here we go with L.O.O.K
L – Listen then respond.
In every relationship, we start with the look but relationships are sustained with listening. If you do not spend time listening, you will not have much of a real relationship. Listening is done with your whole self, so those of us who like to “catch up” while multi-tasking need to take note here. Most people do not spell love starting with an “L”, they spell it staring with a “T”. Most people experience being loved when others spend time with them. Time is part of listening and listening takes time.
How well do you listen? –take a listening test here I found online.
Listening involves activity on your part! To be a good listener, you must be present in the moment, really hear what the person is saying, be ready to allow some silence as they get to share their thoughts and emotions, and be ready to seek to understand them in their point of view. Active listening involves your ears, face, tone, body, emotions and words. Empathic listening also involves your heart. Every relationship can do with some active and empathic listening. When you seek to understand the other persons perspective you also get to hear their process of developing that perspective. Talking to one another is not about getting your point across and its also not about getting the other person to affirm or agree with everything you say. Listening is that process of developing real relationship through real connection and honest responses.
Responding is active too: verbally using words, physically through body language, intellectually through thoughts/dreams/goals/etc. sharing and emotionally through sharing any range of emotions. Responding can include asking questions to clarify what you heard, restating what you heard to confirm you heard it, affirming what you heard and then sharing your thoughts that stay focused on what the person has shared.
Relationships that grow and are sustained over time have a depth of listening then responding.
O – Own your stuff.
In every relationship, owning your own stuff is critical. This isn’t just about cleaning up after yourself, although some people feel cared for when others clean up after themselves. This is about owning your present, past and future. If you take responsibility for your own self care, then you show yourself to be trustworthy, responsible, and respectful. Also, if you take responsibility for maintaining a healthy level of sharing with others as you develop healthy relationships, you show depth of integrity, character, and humility.
Healthy relationships allow for a self. You can own your stuff in a healthy protective way, with healthy boundaries intact of knowing where you start and where the other person begins. There is freedom for each person to have not just a life but a true self that is separate from the other person yet connected without being enmeshed.
Owning your own stuff also means recognizing when you are wrong or have been hurtful whether intentionally or unintentionally. A person who will call attention to something they did before it becomes apparent is someone to begin to trust. A person who will admit what they did was wrong, or hurtful or both is also someone to being to trust.
A real apology will typically have the following pieces within it:
- Admit your wrong
- Call it wrong or hurtful (whichever is appropriate)
- Say you are sorry for how you hurt them and specifically name the hurt
- Ask for forgiveness
- It’s not a real apology if you include statements like: I’m sorry you were hurt, I’m sorry you thought that was wrong, or you know that’s just how I am.
One additional thing to consider within owning your own stuff is realizing your stuff is not all that either. You don’t have to seek to have your own needs met or be self-seeking. If you maintain healthy owning (boundaries) then others won’t walk over you and you can still show patience, kindness, serving others, healthy humility.
O – Overlook the record.
As you listen then respond and own your stuff you don’t have a need to hold a record of wrongs over your own head or the other person’s. Holding onto a record doesn’t release those who continually hurt others. Overlooking a record doesn’t mean staying with someone who continually hurts you emotionally, physically, intellectually, or spiritually.
Overlooking a record means within the context of a healthy relationship there are at least 2 people giving 100%. That way each person received 100% back. There is no need to remind each other of that thing they did that hurt so bad because it’s already been owned. It’s already been listened and talked through and there is already forgiveness, kindness and truth.
As you overlook the record you give place to patience, kindness, compassion and validation. Have you ever had someone validate you? If so you know how great it feels. If not, that stinks because you matter! Validation comes into a healthy relationship when you listen then respond without trying to change or distract. Validation can look like:
- focusing on being in the moment with the person;
- reflecting or restating what the person has said or on their non-verbals,
- restating the past issues and connecting them to current issues to confirm it makes sense, or restate and connect to clarify current choices,
- treating the person as an equal recognizing we are human and share some normal human experiences,
- recognizing the inherent struggle or journey of life and the purpose or calling we have.
A healthy relationship that allows for the record to be overlooked gives both people the capacity to own their own stuff, be heard and also continue growing their character in a safe, respectful and trusting relationship.
K – Keep the faith.
In every relationship, we can believe the best about a person and keep the faith intact. This doesn’t mean keeping a false peace by ignoring wrongs or hurts, denying or minimizing. To truly keep the faith about one another we must prove ourselves worthy of the other persons believe in us. We prove ourselves worthy by treating ourselves and others with respect, kindness, patience, humility and true grace.
We also do the same for others by protecting them, hoping for their best and persevering with them in the tough times. When someone says something that doesn’t sound like the person you know, you step in and encourage a conversation with everyone to clarify and clear it up. When a person close to you forgets something that’s important to you, you don’t say to yourself, “oh they shoulda known that” or “if they truly cared they woulda remembered”. If there is no history in the relationship of disrespect, then believe the best and ask them what’s going on. Then listen. Then own your stuff but mentioning how it hurt and when they apologize, overlook the record because it wasn’t done intentionally.
(Keep the faith only works in a relationship that includes the previous 3 items. Otherwise if we believe the best about someone that isn’t trying to be a better friend then our belief is currently mis-guided and a reality check would be better to help the relationship and the person heal. Healthy relationships mean rejoicing in the truth and when the relationship includes healthy respect, then persevering with owning, listening and restoring trust.)
Listening then responding, owning our own stuff, overlooking the records really includes being responsible healthy people who respect themselves and others.
You can truly do these 4 things in every relationship where there is a current healthy relationship and a mutual desire to increase trust, care, compassion, and respect.
Connect with me and let me know how it goes!
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is passionate about people. She directs a counseling center in Austin, Texas and co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com or www.renue.me
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