To flourish in relationships whether it is family, career or community, we have first to understand and love ourselves. We pour thousands and thousands of hours and financial resources into becoming better skilled and talented in our careers, but we don’t prioritize spending the time to learn ways to improve and thrive in our relationships. Today, I’ll share three ways we can begin to strengthen our relationships.

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Be The Gatekeeper of Your Heart

It’s so important to guard your heart. A few years back one of my coaches asked me if I could imagine a fence around my heart with only one gate. I had been listening to people who didn’t support the direction of my dreams. It caused me to get stuck. What I’ve learned is that the gate is the most likely place toxic thoughts, words and actions gain entrance.

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We are the gatekeeper, the one who has the role of protecting our hearts from toxicity that waits to enter. Since our actions flow from our heart, and our heart can deceive us, isn’t it important to make sure we keep our hearts healthy?

Learning how to guard your heart is an intentional act. If one has close relationships with others who have behaviors that are not part of your core values, eventually most fall prey to the same behaviors.

There are defining, and protective boundaries you can implement that will change the way you form and interact in your relationships.

As a relationship coach, I get many stories from deeply hurt women as a result of wanting to hold onto a relationship where the partner professed love and a desire to change but continued in the same unhealthy patterns. Make sure words and actions align.


Block Out The Noise And Listen Between The Lines

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Effective Communication is said to be THE most important part of a relationship. If we can’t communicate with grace, openly, and by listening to one another, we aren’t true to others or ourselves. Commune is the root word of communication. Communing is two or more people coming together and spending time listening and sharing thoughts, victories, and heartaches. Isn’t that what a relationship is about, trusting one another enough to be transparent with one another? Effective Communication has several elements. Body language, tone, and motivation are three main ways people “speak” to others. How we pose, the inflection, tone, and choice of words and the motivation behind them are huge elements of communication.

How are we doing when we interact with others? How are we doing when we aren’t with them, but speaking of them? If the person could hear what we are saying, might we reconsider our words?

The highest style of communication is Assertive. These communicators seek to build relationships through mutual blessing, understanding, and emotional connectivity. Clarity, Calm, Compassion, Emotionally Safe Questions, Flexible Descriptions, and Courage are characters of these types of conversations.  The goal in assertive communication is close and strong relationships through evolving understanding.


Eliminate The Pointing Finger

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Have you ever heard, “When you point your finger you have three pointing back at you.” What about, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”? I know, it’s hard. It takes the practice of acting intentionally each time we see or are around someone different from us. If we can envision people as red, yellow, blue and green dots, it can help us recognize one’s unique makeup, and the differences might be the very ingredient to add value to our relationships. What would it be like to live in a world where everyone is the same? B. O. R. I. N. G.

Whether people think, behave, or live differently from us we can see the differences in people as a plus.

It’s healthy to take a glance in the mirror to discover where our behaviors might be out of sync before involving ourselves telling someone where they can grow.

A slippery slope is judging others. If we judge, we set ourselves up for judgment. I’m not saying we are blind to the unhealthy actions of others. What I am conveying is that there is a more excellent way. When we judge with condemnation, we create divisiveness. If we lose the relationship, we lose any opportunity to have influence or impact. Having vision from a heart of love equips us to gently guide others away from unhealthy patterns and toward a better path.


In Conclusion

Results in a person’s life, whether healthy or unhealthy, come from behaviors, actions, and decisions developed from the foundation of where they find their identity, their core values, what they believe, and their skills. The foundation is where people go through a discovery process and develop greater self-awareness and confidence that aligns with their true self.

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Featured image credit: Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash