In previous articles we’ve looked at getting clear on what you want to accomplish in your relationships, and why. Now let’s look at the next step to developing the connections in your life: examining what you’re bringing to the table…

The way to strengthen or develop a relationship is to identify what is already working – or at least the possibilities and potential – as well as an awareness of what isn’t. We can then maximize the positive aspects of the relationship while working together to develop and practice more adaptive alternatives to what’s broken.

Exactly how to do this is beyond the scope of this article – but a good place to start is looking at how you relate to others:

Having this awareness helps foster successful relationships because it gives you the opportunity to identify what you do well, as well as identify new behaviors to try on. It also fosters insight into which types of personalities, environments, and situations you prefer.

Knowing this allows you to make some conscious decisions and plan accordingly. It allows you to decide with whom and where you can easily develop relationships, and with whom and where you choose to step out of your comfort zone (or not). You can decide which relationships will come more naturally and easily; and which will take more time, energy, and skill.

Begin by looking at the relationships you’ve had in the past. Start with your childhood and move forward to the present day. Here are some example questions to ask yourself:

Who was your best friend? Why?

Who did you get along with best in your family? Why?

Who were your favourite teachers? Bosses?

What drew you to various romantic partners or adult friendships? What sustained them?

Who do you feel most comfortable around currently?

Who makes you challenge yourself to be a better person? How?

Think of all the people in your life, past and present, that you connected with on the deepest levels. What were the common features of these relationships? Of these people? Of the situation you were in together?

What was your contribution?

Now think about who you’ve had the most difficult times with. What made it difficult? What part did you play in this?

Think about what your answers to these questions mean: after you’ve decided what you want from the relationships in your life – and which relationships you want to work on – think about what it is that you’re bringing to the table.

Think about how you typically relate to others in a variety of circumstances; and decide which traits and habits to build upon, which to change, and which to let go of completely.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Hammer, Ph.D. is a certified professional coach and licensed psychologist. He offers leadership and life coaching services, as well as various self-development tools for people who are passionate about reaching higher levels of success and becoming the best they can be.

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