Welcome to the latest in our series of bitesize blogs containing quick tips and ideas to help you build resilience and boost wellbeing.

As we move through Relationships Week our focus remains on our social connections. Here we reflect on how we can grow and maintain strong relationships.

Not only do strong supportive relationships buffer us against stress, but we also experience many positive emotions through our connections with other people. So, investing in our relationships can pay dividends in boosting our ability to manage stress and experience greater wellbeing

How to build stronger relationships

Prosocial behaviours:

These are deliberate and voluntary behaviours which are intended to benefit another person. They help us to connect positively with others and include acts of:

  • Inclusion
  • Kindness
  • Interest
  • Generosity
  • Acceptance

Behaving in these ways facilitates bonding and helps to build trust. Acting with authenticity allows others to be themselves around you without fear of judgement or criticism. All these features help to strengthen our relationships

Face to face contact:

When we meet someone face to face we are able to take in the full picture. By paying full attention to verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, we are better able to understand the intentions and feelings of another person. We can also tell whether or not they are genuine. Finding ways to connect face to face (even via online video links as we have had to do during lockdown) helps to strengthen our relationships, build trust and confidence.

Listening:

Showing interest by actively listening creates a sense of inclusion and acceptance, helping others to feel valued, heard and supported. When we really listen to another person, we start to understand them, where they are coming from and who they are. And this allows us to find things we appreciate or value about them.

Empathy:

When we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes by experiencing and expressing empathy, we truly understand what a person is going through. This shows them that we care, builds feelings of connection, positive emotions and acceptance and strengthens the relationship bond.

Appreciation:

It is harder to use prosocial behaviours with people we perceive as different from ourselves or who we struggle to relate to. We can become stuck in unhelpful patterns of relating, perhaps leading to conflict or misunderstanding and the positions we occupy within the relationship can become increasingly polarised and rigid.

When you notice this happening, try to find something that you can appreciate about them, look for things you have in common and take time to understand their perspective. If you can see them as similar to you, even in small ways, you will start to establish a stronger connection to them, making it easier to communicate and interact effectively.

If you found this helpful and would like to read more bitesize tips, check out some of the other blogs in this series. You might also like to join our Facebook group UR Resilient, where members are busy sharing creative and inspiring ideas for staying positive during this challenging time.