Wouldn't it be great if human beings came to this world with well functioning, inbuilt relationship software? Indeed, we do. Everyone has the capability to relate successfully to others. Often that capability is heavily burdened by "stuff" that distorts people's thinking, beliefs, and values. The culprits are usually one or all of the following: one's history, education, rules, social restrictions, society you grow up in, previous relationships, and others.

Successful relationships are based on the level of self-understanding each individual brings into a social situation. Only clarity about one's personality make-up ensures that we react to the "OTHER" without too much over-lay of filters, prejudices, and projections. The secret of successful relationships is to unburden yourself from old "stuff".

1. Self-Awareness
Only once you know what has shaped you and what your values and beliefs are based on, can you relate to another person successfully. Although many people might say they have good self-awareness that often turns out to be a myth. People are usually quite unaware of their projections that can completely distort how they see another person. Self-Awareness requires a good understanding how you family environment has shaped you. What was there that makes you now fearful of certain situations? What was there that makes you very confident? What was missing, and are you still looking for it? These are all very important questions that inform you about
the make-up of your personality.

2. Self-Management
Self-Management is about managing your emotional states. When you know what has shaped you, you are able to up skill in areas that are needed for you to be successful. For example you fear public speaking appointments: You may have grown up in a family environment where children were seen but not heard. As a result your confidence in that area could never fully develop. You may have other limiting beliefs, such as you are not good enough, you will not succeed, what you have to offer is of no value. There are proven ways – as self-help or with professional help - to solve such impasses and leave limiting beliefs behind.

3. Understanding Others
Having a good sense of self-awareness is the first step to understanding others. A person who has "shut down" emotionally will be unable to empathise with others. We usually hear comments from "shut down" people like "Get over it, it's in the past why don't you move on, that is nothing compared to the starving children in Africa”. People usually mean you should ignore how you feel when they say “Get over it”. However, that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. In order to empathise with others, you need to understand your own hurts and wounds. Understanding other is, however, more than just being able to empathise. It is also about being able to be open to different opinions, lifestyles, and cultures. Understanding others also entails to be able to look past another person's shortcomings and to accept that people are not perfect. Understanding others is about being willing to walk a mile in another person's shoes.

4. Managing Relationships
Having a good sense of self-awareness, being able to manage one-self, and being able to understand others, are all very important ingredients to being able to manage relationships. Most of all, however, is to have good communication skills. A lot has been written about communication skills and yet, without the self-awareness mentioned above, all the communication skills in the world will not create a good relationship. The biggest obstacle to good communication is that most people think it is taking place. They don’t reflect on their communication and their communication style. If they don't achieve the outcome they want, they find many explanations in the circumstances (“They didn’t have time to think about my proposal”) or find fault in others (They just don’t understand what’s good for them”). To be able to manage relationships, a person needs to ask him or herself all the time “How am I contributing to …xyz.”

The four areas of successful relationships discussed here are all part of what is known as emotional intelligence (EQ) and social intelligence (SQ). EQ and SQ are fairly new concepts and many large companies test nowadays prospective employees whether they possess enough of it. Successful people are thought to have a high level of emotional and social intelligence. It pays to take regular steps for brushing up on relationship skills to stay effective, because often people don’t notice how they slip into habits that are not helpful for having successful relationships.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Gudrun Frerichs is a trainer, psychotherapist, and researcher who has researched for the last 9 years how people recover from the impact of abuse. She has dedicated herself to assisting survivors of sexual abuse to grow strong and fulfil their potential and their dreams. Read on www.multiplevoices.com and gudrunfrerichs.com. Is your relationship in distress? Get her free mini course Successful Relationships gfrerichs.typepad.com/psychological_resolutions/2008/08/the-secret-of-successful-relationships-7-day-mini-course.html