Fostering Relationships: Five Essential Skills

We invested fully this weekend with 500+ young leaders working on one thing only - helping them to understand how to be better at relationships. We covered many topics and worked on many areas. However, the following five lessons are the relationship techniques that will stick to their ribs for many days to come.

Five Essential Relationship Skills

1. Don't make people fight for your time and attention. Quickly and easily put your focus on others. When they share something with you, be impressed, encourage them, lift them up, etc. Don't fall into any of these three categories: Know It All, Always Better Than Others, or Indifferent About Others.

2. Talk up about others not in the room. Stephen Covey says this is one of the most powerful way to build trust with people in the room. A foundation of trust is an essential building block for healthy relationships.

3. Follow-through. People who stick to commitments are always in high-demand. Learn to say yes only to those meetings, projects and commitments that you are fairly sure you can keep. I'd rather you say no to me early than no to me late.

4. Share smiles with many. Share frustrations with one. People who are great at relationships understand this principle. Look for, celebrate, cultivate and share the good spaces in life. When you have gripes, whines, complaints, etc., share them with your closest people only. That's one of the responsibilities of being a close family member or friend. We are called to be the proverbial shoulder.

5. Forgive first. This last one is the heaviest. True forgiveness is never earned. It is given freely with heroic effort. If you have someone who has broke trust with you in any way and you are waiting for them to earn your forgiveness, you will be waiting forever. Forgiveness only works truly when you decide to pay the debt for them and take that burden off your heart. It's one of the rarest and most powerful relationship acts.

You can tell the running theme here is taking personal responsibility for the condition of your relationships. This is how any great team works - each individual investing fully and personally working hard to make it great. As your relationships go, so goes your quality of life. Make them great.