How To Develop Authentic, Valuable Relationships ─ In Life And Work

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How To Network, Meet People, Build Relationships, & Make Friends As An Adult
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To create authentic, valuable relationships, you’ll benefit from deepening how you meet and connect with others.

Beyond how to network, this article relates to both professional and personal situations that often overlap and enrich one another.

As a result, notice and act on opportunities for satisfaction and success in new, current and unexpected situations.

Even accomplished people such as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor were supported for nomination to the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Rehnquist, an old friend. 

She had the outstanding experience and capability to do that demanding work, but her connection with Justice Rehnquist was crucial for being chosen.    

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Whatever your credentials, experience, and connections, knowing the right person is just a good start.

To develop authentic, valuable relationships sustained over time, use your own good sense, intuition, and skills.  

Bring them together with motivation, ideas, and tools for reaching out to others and making choices you truly want.

Consider the ideas in this article to continue taking relevant action in your interest.

Potentially more important than who you know is how you get to know someone with whom there can be mutual benefit and enjoyment. 

This includes the process of meeting, sustaining, and deepening relationships with people who have meaning to you and vice versa. 

Although "meaning" can vary with each person’s values and goals, it often highlights what’s significant and important to you in life and work.

Why bother with risks and demands of deeper relationships?

Perhaps your experience so far with investing in longer-term relationships has been marked by demands and challenges ─ even wasted time and disappointments.

I’m afraid that’s the reality in many situations. After all, connections with other people can be unpredictable, vulnerable to misunderstanding, and messy.

So, be ready to deal with such issues as you decide what you want to invest in a particular relationship.

For example, initially and over time ask yourself:

∙        What mutual benefits are possible?

∙        How self-aware and willing to communicate honestly does each person seem to be?

∙        Are there capacities for and interest in give and take?

If your answers to these questions are encouraging, here are some immediate reasons to engage in developing worthwhile, promising relationships.

They are good for your health! They could help you live longer, lessen pain, heal faster, lower blood pressure, and support the immune system.

If that’s not enough, such relationships also contribute to physical fitness and heart health.

Deeper relationships help you know yourself and grow further.

In this time of accelerating change, they help you know more about who you are as well as what you want despite many challenges beyond your control.  

Although some introspection is crucial, conversation and interaction with a range of individuals are useful for clarifying your own strengths and interests.  

One choice is to agree to give feedback about the strengths and potential you see in one another.

Equally important is what you learn from others, from their choices, behavior, and knowledge.

And for quality of life and growth, having fun and being surprised in positive ways likely emerge through good relationships and shared activities. 

Your investment benefits from self-awareness, patience, and commitment.

As you’ve probably noticed, often worthwhile relationships require mutual adjustments, understanding, and empathy.

If dealt with openly and responsibly, any conflicts also lead to better mutual appreciation, acceptance, and insight, contributing to a foundation of trust.

Once issues are addressed, the process of getting through them can strengthen and sustain what you’re creating together.

As both catalyst and lubrication for valuable, authentic relationships, putting faith in yourself and others is an important start for building trust.  

Actually priceless, it may flow freely when offered safely with reasonable expectations.

Like water, once the sluice gates are opened with the power of integrity, a river of goodwill provides continuing benefits.

Considering the meaning of trust can add to choices for action.

Trust derives from Scandinavian words related to protection, firmness, and consolation. The Gothic trausti meant covenant.

In today's world, trust is a foundation for commitment in a range of relationships, including personal, professional, community, spiritual, and civic.

Since trust develops in exchange and interaction, it could be both a process and a multiplier.

The more you give trust, the more you’ll tend to receive it, and the greater the reservoir available to you and the people you care about.

Trust as a basis for action not only contributes to healthy work and love but also offsets fear.

To make the most of the time and talents you have, consider how you can improve current relationships and make future ones flourish.  

One way to start is to choose one or two people whom you value. Then identify one issue to be addressed and one opportunity to pursue.

Decide when, where, and how you want to follow up.

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The small and sometimes strong strokes of rowing together in valuable relationships help avoid the shoals and occasional rocky rapids.

Although your behavior and the directions you choose certainly influence your relationships, you rarely control what others do and say.

Here are three processes within your powers to create trust and goodwill:

∙        Get clear about where you stand now.  Continue that process over time to clarify and meet priorities such as communicating with substance, anticipating others’ needs and interests, and identifying activities that have mutual meaning and value.

∙        Be transparent with others, communicating openly about your expectations, motivation and goals, without taking undue risks.

∙        Strive to be consistent in important actions and behavior, delivering on promises or alerting others when unable to do so.

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With any leap of faith, make sure you are jumping safely. Be alert to dangers by:

∙        Listening to your intuition which is based on deep knowledge that may not be appreciated or conscious

∙        Using critical thinking

∙        Positioning your "antenna" for identifying insincerity, manipulation, hypocrisy, and absurdity

∙        Keeping your expectations and boundaries reasonable by checking out your assumptions and communicating openly

∙        Paying attention to your emotions

In addition, avoid and keep in perspective people who are mean-spirited, ungenerous, jealous, insecure and self-absorbed.

They can all drain your energy and limit the quality of your life and work.

For relationships you can’t leave, at least honor your needs and health.

Whenever possible, assert your preferences kindly and firmly to encourage others’ respectful behavior.

Finally, review past mistakes in building relationships and extending trust in order to identify themes and situations you want to avoid repeating.

For self-protection and progress, perhaps write a personal alert list to attend to yourself, focusing on beneficial choices and actions, now and in the future.

Where to create authentic, valuable relationships

In addition to your workplace and related situations, you never know where and when you’ll connect with someone where chemistry, need, and value meet.  Possibilities may include:

∙        Clubs and professional groups as well as sports, educational and social activities that you join or start (and keep participating in)

∙        Online groups you contribute to over time

∙        Community and spiritual groups where you offer leadership, time, and ideas

∙        Current and previous friendships ripe for renewal

∙        New connections made while traveling and being in usual haunts from stores to museums

Take several minutes now to identify a relationship of value you want to start, nourish, or sustain more effectively and mindfully.  

Specify when you'll be able to do that and a few specific steps to reach out to the person.

I encourage you to take action now to try out improved habits and strengthen authentic, valuable relationships in life and work.

The outcomes of your choices and insights will enhance your own situations and the lives of others.

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Ruth Schimel, PhD, is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. Obtain the bonus first chapter of the upcoming, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future on the Books page at her website, where you’ll also find your invitation for a free consultation.