7 tips for building strong relationships

by Betty Lochner on October 24, 2010

Have you mastered the art of building strong relationships?  I think I can safely say that most of us can use some help in that area. Why? Because good relationships take skill and hard work.

In this post, I’ll offer up some of the skill part. The hard work part will then be up to you.

I’ve gathered up  seven  good strategies for improving your relationships at work and at home.  See how many of these strategies you are currently using and which ones you may need to start doing more of.

1. Create a safe environment where you can trust and share openly.

The first tip is to work to  create a safe environment by making yourself easy to approach, trust, and connect with. So how do you do that?  Two words: Be respectful! That means that you must listen actively and not interrupt.  In other words, listen first — I mean really listen as if what you are hearing could change your life —  and talk second.  

2. Separate the facts from the feelings.

Make sure you are communicating the facts of a situation and don’t get yourself all caught up in the feelings.  Be tough on issues that need to be addressed, but tender on the person.  In short, don’t make it personal!  Be fair and work toward being calm and unemotional when you are working on an issue in a relationship.

3. Don’t assume.

This one is important: don’t make assumptions about things that are left unsaid.We usually make up our own stories or interpretations about what someone’s behavior means instead of asking for clarification. For example:  if someone comes in and throws down their bag, don’t assume they are mad or disappointed in you — ask them!  And don’t assume anyone knows your undisclosed desires!  For example, iIf you expect a special dinner on your birthday, tell someone that! If you want to go out for Mexican, don’t say you don’t care where you go!   

4. Ask questions.

To make sure you understand what is being said ask questions.  We can never err on the side of asking too many questions (but don’t interrupt to do that). And then listen to the answers!

5. Shovel your piles while they are small.

Become aware of the things that you’re not talking about but you should be. Don’t let issues pile up until they are a big stinky mess that you have to deal with.  If you need to have a hard conversation, then have the courage to do that!  When something happens that doesn’t seem right in your relationship, then talk about that as soon as it happens – not days or weeks or even years later.

6. Make time.

One of the best ways to strengthen a relationship is to nurture it. Schedule time together and avoid interruptions. Get away from the stress of work or home or kids and invest some real quality time in the relationship.

7. Celebrate what’s right with your relationship.

Don’t spend as much energy on what you don’t like about your relationship as you do celebrating what’s right with it!  Think of what you appreciate about the person and your relationship and tell them – often!

Now, I challenge you to pick one of these 7 tips that you could do better with and take one step this week towards getting better at it!

Do you have other strategies that work for you? Please leave a comment and share your favorite.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty Lochner October 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

That’s a great one to add, Sharon – keep focused on the end result – the future. Yes!

2 Sharon Larson October 25, 2010 at 7:22 am

Oh! I like this post!

I especially enjoyed the suggestion to shovel piles while they’re still small. Indeed, it is much easier to carry a little shovel for upkeep than a large shovel for remodeling.

One thing that helps me build relationships is to keep focused on the end result – the future. Keeping my eye on the goal or the purpose of the relationship always seems to keep those relationships in a good place.

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