2020 was a nightmare for some couples and a blessing for others. While some have experienced how painful it is to be physically separated from their partner, others had the chance to spend more time together and reconnect. But 2021 shouldn’t be about maintaining a relationship, but rather about taking things one step further and strengthen it. And no, I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, it could be a friend, a family member, or even a colleague from work.
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Learning how to improve your relationships will probably improve your overall health as well. According to Miranda Wilcox, MA, PCC, founder, coach, and consultant at Thrive Potential, LLC, if you want to take care of your mental health in 2021, pay close attention to your personal relationships and focus on cultivating positive connections.
As Wilcox has explained, “We need to mitigate the emotional toll and isolation of COVID by being intentional about whom we interact with and how we do that. Technology, which often contributes to feelings of disconnection, can also be used as a tool for building relationships. Regardless of location, the right conversation can provide a mutual sense of understanding, belonging, and commitment. Being vulnerable, encouraging openness, and providing a safe space for sharing are ways we can use conversations to deepen the connection.”
Read on to discover how to build stronger relationships in 2021, according to relationship experts!
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Be a good listener.
Nothing destroys a relationship as much as assuming to know the outcome of a conversation does. According to Amie Devero, president of Beyond Better Strategy And Coaching, that type of behavior is especially common in marriages, where spouses just assume what the other person has to say and they stop listening.
But even when you think you know the other person because you’ve been together for as long as you can remember, there’s always the chance to discover something new and interesting about them. In 2021, people should concentrate more on learning new things about their partners and taking the time to discover who they really are, Devero said.
Learning how to be a good listener will definitely improve the relationship with those around you, whether we’re talking about a partner, a parent, or even a friend.
You need to spend time together, and apart.
According to Jason Lee, relationship science and data analyst with Healthy Framework, in order to create a stronger relationship with the people you love, you need to include them in your life. Make time for the people in your life, and try to put your phone down when you’re spending time with them.
It’s all about being present in the conversation. However, for couples who spend every moment together in quarantine, spending some time apart might actually be healthier for their relationship. Take some time to just be with yourself, either to read a book, watch your favorite show on Netflix or even enjoy a little silence. This will help you feel more refreshed and engaged in the relationship.
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Understand your wants and needs.
Understanding your wants and needs is very important in creating a strong relationship with the people you love. According to Lisa Concepcion, certified professional life coach and founder of LoveQuest Coaching, make sure you understand what you’re looking for in a partner, friend, or even a colleague, and never settle for less.
Additionally, think about how you want to be treated in your relationships and what you have to offer in return. You want to grow and evolve? Then spend more time with the people who will help you achieve that. Reach out to people and “initiate meaningful interactions,” Concepcion added.
Self-reflecting is essential in a relationship.
In order to have a successful relationship, you need to know who you are as a person, understand your ways and learn to love yourself, explains Donna T. Novak, Syd., a licensed psychologist in Simi Valley, California.
According to Novak, it’s impossible to have e healthy relationship with those around you when you’re at war with yourself. Love starts with you, so focus on accepting your flaws and loving yourself anyway, and only then you can concentrate on improving your exterior relationships.
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Business and personal can go hand in hand.
According to Bri Seeley, an entrepreneur coach, 2020 has changed the way businesses work and things got to a whole new level. All of a sudden, meetings moved online due to COVID, and we allowed our contacts to enter our homes and meet our children. So it’s fair to say that you allowed your boss and your colleagues to see you from a whole new and different perspective.
“Any barriers between business and personal were instantly removed,” Seeley added. So if we’re talking about the conversations you have with your business contacts, there’s no need to stick only to professional topics. Ask them how working-from-home is going for them and how their kids adjusted to the new lifestyle.
If you have things in common, you can always find interesting topics to discuss. By engaging in conversations you’ll create better relationships with those around you, rather than just sticking to the old, formal ways.
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Pay attention to your body language.
Building stronger relationships is linked to positive body language, explains confidence coach and body language expert Karen Donaldson. When you’re talking to someone, you need to pay attention to how you position, she added.
Your body should be parallel to the other person’s body, as a way to show them that you’re interested and engaged in the conversation. If you want to show the other person that you’re listening very closely to what they have to say, slightly lean towards them. Additionally, make sure you keep your palms open when you’re talking to someone.
According to Karen, “Open palms signify openness, acceptance, honesty, and sincerity.”
Create new memories.
Creating new memories with the people you love will strengthen your relationships, explains Declan Edwards, a thought leader in the field of well-being and the founder of BU Coaching.
I’m sure most of us didn’t get to create a lot of new memories in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, but you can always be creative when it comes to spending time with your partner, family, or friends. There a lot of online activities you can do together or even a simple conversation with your loved ones could help you improve your relationship.
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You shouldn’t hide your vulnerable side!
Being honest about your feelings is not always easy, but it’s a very important step in creating strong connections with those around you. According to Linda Mueller, a certified life coach at The Expat Partner Coach, you will create a stronger bond when you learn to open up to the people that love you.
It takes a lot of courage to open up, and you might even get hurt sometimes, but you’re certainly creating a stronger, deeper bond with the other person, so we can all agree that it’s worth the risk.
Also, make sure you don’t forget that being open goes both ways. If your partner, friend, or a colleague from work need someone to talk to, you need to make sure you’re offering your support. Learn to be a thoughtful person and always think about those around you. Be true to your word and always help others when you have the chance.
Make sure to also check: 14 Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship, According to Psychologists.
Don’t forget to ask good questions!
Asking questions is very important in a relationship, but it’s even more important to ask GOOD questions. This will give your partner the opportunity to open up. According to Kate Gigax, founder of Development Corps, a leadership coaching and consulting firm, by asking questions you’re proving to the other person that you’re curious, interested, and engaged in the conversation.
And you can learn to ask better questions by concentrating on ‘What’ rather than ‘How’ or Why.’ Additionally, you need to make sure you’re asking open-ended questions, rather than suggestions wrapped in a question form, explains Kate Gigax. Ask them how a certain situation made them feel and what they expect to happen further.
By showing your interest in their story, you’re not only prolonging the conversation but also creating a deeper connection and an indestructible bond with the person who’s talking.
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Don’t forget about your acquaintances either.
According to Lisa Concepcion, while it’s important to spend time with your closest friends, don’t forget about the people who are no longer as present in your life as they used to be. Reach out to an old friend and have a conversation with them, who knows, you could reconnect with them and find things in common.
However, that doesn’t mean you should go back to the people who were toxic, because they are off the table and do not deserve to be part of your life. In 2021, we’re focusing on being in healthy, strong relationships that bring us peace and happiness.
Try new online experiences.
You can use Zoom for a lot of things, not just for work calls and family meetings. According to Alexa Doman, a career and life coach at Alexa Doman Coaching, thanks to advanced technology, you can enjoy a lot of new experiences from the comfort of your home.
It’s almost impossible not to find something that suits you. You can join a book club, try online cooking classes, or even an online workout session with your partner. Additionally, there are a lot of companies that deliver products to your door, so you could also opt for cheese or wine tastings when you feel like being a little fancier.
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Relationships require frequent work.
As Denise P. Kalm, writer, speaker, and coach with DPK Coaching has explained, if you want to have a strong, long-term relationship, you need to be prepared to constantly work for it. According to Kalm, a relationship is like a garden, you plant the seed and find someone to fertilize and water it. However, if you want to have a beautiful garden, you need t know that there’s regular maintenance required. If you don’t put an effort and work for it, there will be no flowers in your garden.
When we talk about marriages, in particular, people seem to forget that it still requires effort, and the same goes with your friendships. Even though you’re married for 10 years, or celebrating 20 years of friendship with someone, you still need to work at improving your relationships.
Sometimes the small gestures mean the most. According to Kalm, you need to do nice gestures for your partner each day, and they shall do the same in return. Also, make sure you acknowledge what the other person has done, that’s how you get to keep the flame burning.
Make sure to also check: 15 Amazing First Date Ideas for People Over 40.
Don’t forget about networking.
COVID has changed a lot of aspects of our day to day lives, and meeting new people and going to events were certainly among them. According to Doman, if you’re looking to create professional relationships and even friendships, you can use the Lunch Club website.
You have the opportunity to meet people with the same interests as you and have a short conversation with them. Since we’re no longer allowed to go to events, this is a great opportunity to create new connections this year.
Let the important people in your life know how much you care.
According to Jeff Harry, a speaker and coach with Rediscover Your Play, you should try making a list with the people that are most important to you, and then the people you want to create a stronger relationship with. He also recommended writing down the way you intend to spend your time with those people.
Then, reach out to them and talk to them about your intentions. No matter what you’re doing, when it comes to the people you love, learning to be honest and vulnerable is always the key. Also, give them enough freedom to be themselves and spend quality time together whenever possible.