Build Successful Relationships in Every Area of Your Life—Here’s How

When she’s not in a courtroom, mindfulness expert and attorney, Mona Tashroudian, shares her healthy living secrets in our “Ask a Mindfulness Expert” column. Come back the second Monday of each month for Tashroudian’s actionable tips to help you on your journey to becoming your healthiest, happiest self.

It’s in the air: spring is finally, officially here. The sense of warmer, brighter, and greener days that make you want to just let the outdoors in. In the same way, spring is the perfect time to invite new, meaningful habits into your life. One habit, with benefits to last a lifetime, is building successful relationships that connect on a deep level.

For some, and for me in particular, connecting with others exposes the true meaning of life and happiness. I find that in my moments of being engaged and truly connected with others, I am most at ease, most happy, and most content.

Unfortunately, however, maneuvering the perils of friendships and love in the digital age are more difficult than ever before. We rarely call friends on the phone or meet in person to catch up. Most of us are content with the simplicity of following a friend on various social media platforms, which undoubtedly makes us feel plugged into some part of their life. However convenient social media and technology may be to staying “in the know”, it sacrifices our innate desire to connect with people around us.To see them, to feel their presence and energy, to look them in the eyes, and to laugh with them. Without these moments of connection, we are merely passing the days, staying informed about what is going on in people’s lives, shuffling from one agenda to the next.

Building successful relationships in life require us to tap into what really makes the other person feel valued—the little details he or she will appreciate and feel. ‘Whether it’s your love life, business life, or friendships—building successful relationships follows pretty much the same rules of building deeper connections.

Ahead, read 3 tips on small ways you can be proactive about your cultivating deeper connections in your life.

1. Listen to connect, not to comment.

Chronicles of Her PHOTO: Chronicles of Her

This sounds simple, but it’s incredibly difficult. Learning to listen mindfully means being present, and entirely in tune with the other person. The stage is theirs, and you are just an observer in the audience, listening mindfully.
Do not interrupt or interject your own ideas or viewpoints, just be present. I was first introduced to mindful listening at a mindfulness retreat a few years ago. The exercise consisted of me and a partner, taking turns speaking for 3 minutes—sans any interruption from the listener. I thought this would be easy for me. After all, I was nominated “peer counselor of the year” in high school. But boy, was this harder than I thought.
After only 30 seconds into the exercise, I wanted so badly to express my own feelings and opinion about what my partner was saying. I soon realized that, like too many of us, I was listening with half an ear, preoccupied and not fully present. The problem here is that as involved humans, we tend to listen with bias—trying to connect what the other person is saying to our own experience.
I urge you to try this exercise. Pick any topic, and ask a partner/friend/sibling to just listen to you. Then do the same. Let there be silence. Let there be eye contact. Take this practice into your everyday—at work, at school, throughout life. Listen to connect, not to comment.

2. Learn to be compassionate.

Sandra Semburg PHOTO: Sandra Semburg

I personally struggle with this one. It is not because I don’t know how to be compassionate, but quite the opposite— I am too compassionate. “Compassion” means “to suffer together.” Suffice it to say I often take on the feelings and emotions of others, and take on their suffering as if it is my own. As you can imagine, doing so is draining and exhausting.

Recently, however, I have come to learn that being compassionate and showing compassion does not mean that one needs to suffer the pains of another to connect. Quite the contrary is true. Being compassionate to a fellow human means showing them you understand where they are coming from. This can be done through facial expressions, sharing similar problems and solutions, making eye contact, and listening intently (read #1). Just being there, and present is often more than enough. Compassion, coupled with kindness, will lead to the deepest of connections.

3. Practice acts of kindness.

It only takes a moment, a small act, or a few words to be kind. We all like it when people are nice or kind to us, so learn to be that person for others. However big or small your act of kindness may be, it will never go unnoticed.

As they say, we are all connected. Taking it a step further, when you act kind, take a moment to feel the gratitude YOU would feel if you were the one receiving your kindness. Putting yourself in the “other person’s shoes” helps you to connect further with the recipient of your kind act. For example, buy your friend his/her favorite pastry on a lousy day. Then, imagine how nice it would feel if someone acted that way toward you.
Feel those feelings and let them sit with you. Other things you can do include, but by no means are limited to, buying lunch or coffee for a friend, sending a nice note to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or complimenting a friend or stranger. Just be nice—and create an abundance of good feelings. The good vibes will continue and connect you with all things wonderful – and all people who are wonderful!

Now discover eight tips building great business relationships.