3 Essential Tips to Improve Every Relationship You Have

When working on a close-knit team, especially during stressful times, you are going to have some disagreements. We all work differently. We want different things and have separate expectations of each other. The problem is we can’t read minds, at least not that I know of, and we don’t like to be told what to do. This is especially true with peers. What’s worse is this problem shows up in all parts of our lives, at work and at home.

But when work/life ramps up and things get stressful, people make more mistakes. When these mistakes happen, we assume that those mistakes were on purpose or because of incompetence. We would almost always prefer someone work the way we think is best! When someone makes a mistake that affects us, we want to correct them. But correcting a peer is tricky and can often come off insulting. And truthfully we can’t know exactly why a mistake was made, so assuming why isn’t fair. We have a habit of assuming our mistakes are justified and not entirely our fault, while others mistakes are of their own doing.

I heard some advice once that’s helped me avoid these common pitfalls. It’s changed personal and professional relationships in a permanent way. It sounds obvious but it’s definitely in the easy to learn, tough to master category.

Tip 1 is this, treat others the way you want to be treated. Easy right? But, and this is key, you need to do for someone else exactly what you want them to do for you. It’s not just a generic if you’re nice to people, people will be nice to you. If you want someone to finish up a peer review quickly, make sure you do theirs as fast as you want yours done. If you want a colleague to work hard and carry some more weight, then you need to buckle down and work even harder. If they’re not working as hard there is a reason, so let them know you’re here for them if they need help. Most people aren’t lazy to be lazy, especially if they were once very productive. If someone isn’t getting the job done, something is going on.

You buckling down during stressful times and being there to pick up the slack when other teammates are struggling will be noticed. Your team will know you are there to help them and will want to reciprocate. When your off-day comes, they will work harder and offer you the help you need. Trust me, that off-day will come.

This doesn’t only apply to work. If you want your significant other to buy you a gift just because, come home with a nice gift they would like. Wish they would clean up around the house more? Go on a cleaning spree and surprise them with an immaculate home. The goal is to become the person you want to be with at home and at work. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but it works.

Tip 2 is an extension of tip 1. It’s that this tactic is not isolated to physical acts. It also helps with thought processes. If you assume the best of people, you’ll be more forgiving and nicer towards them. This, in turn, will make them more understanding and nicer when you make a mistake or need help. It’s very hard to sustain a bad attitude towards someone who is always polite and nice to you. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Tip 3 is finding out what others need from you. When you are open and vulnerable in saying “ I don’t know if I’m doing all I can, and I want to help out. What do you need from me?” your colleague or friend will reciprocate this. All you need to do is go grab some coffee and have a candid conversation. If you’re not comfortable having this conversation, make it a point to have more casual interactions and focus on listening to them. People will tell you what they need without you asking if you pay close attention. This alone will improve your relationship as everyone likes being truly listened to, it’s why therapy costs so much. Listen and find out what someone needs, then give it to them.

Look I get it, we’ve all heard some form of this advice in our life. Treat others the way you want to be treated, Assume good intentions, and Listen more. But they’re said so casually and so often they have lost their meaning a bit. We all know them, but rarely do we think deeply about what they mean exactly, and how we can put them to use. Worst case scenario: you try it at work or with your significant other, and you seem really nice without getting anything in return, but I doubt it. Focus on these three concepts, put them into action, thank me later.