Mental Edge: How To Make The Most Out of Interpersonal Relationships

The holidays are here. It is time for parties, family gatherings, and social engagements galore! I know many people don’t look forward to the amount of socializing that goes on around this time of year. For one thing, we socialize with people that we only see a few times a year, and getting conversations going can be a bit awkward. On top of that, we have gatherings that are more business in nature, and we are meeting people for the first time. Getting those conversations going, can also sometimes seem challenging.

And then there is that Aunt, who is stuck in the past that every year reminds the entire family of all the embarrassing things they did when they were ten years old. I feel you. It can make one want to sneak away and hide in a bottle and go numb to it all.

But I have a proposal, a challenge if you will. Live each event to the fullest. Be the life of the party, engage enthusiastically, strike up conversations that are stimulating to other people, and leave people feeling good for having interacted with you. Whether that is your sister, step cousin, or that random stranger that one of your family members invited so that they too have a place to go for the holidays.

What if we challenged ourselves in a new way, to live each event as if it were the only thing important in life? What if we gave an overhaul to our social skills and our family etiquette? If you are up for the challenge, here are a few ideas to get things going.

1. Accept others for who they are. It is my opinion that one of the most important ways we can have meaningful interactions is to accept that others are different from us. Some are VERY different. It’s all good, right? We don’t want little clones of ourselves do we; that agree with everything we say no matter what and never challenge us? I don’t think that would be interesting at all. So next party, clear your mind of all that you believe about people and just come in as a blank slate, open to some interesting and engaging conversations.

2. Get interested in their unique story. Once we come in as a blank slate and accept others as they are, it is much easier to become curious about people. When someone is different, be curious rather than judgmental. Think of it as an amazing opportunity to try on someone else’s life for the fun of it and then giving it back at the end of the conversation. Ask engaging questions that will get them excited. Play a game to see how much better of a mood you can leave them in than when they started talking to you.

3. Be the happy person in the room. I don’t recall where this advice came from, maybe it is an old Taoist saying, but people remember you based on how you made them feel. That to me is so wild. Here we are thinking we need to impress people with our fancy dress and perfect makeup, and it turns out, when they feel good after interacting with us, they also feel more positively toward us. It is a win win deal as far as I can tell. You feel good for allowing yourself to be in such a good mood and interact with positivity, and they feel good for the positive interaction. And based on my experience, that positivity will become contagious real quick.

4. Balance family time with alone time. Our schedules are usually tighter than normal over the holidays, be sure to find time for yourself. Even if you have to scale it back from your usual hour a day to 30 minutes a day, at least you are doing something to turn inward and connect with yourself and check in with how you feel and recharge your mind and body.

5. Realize that the only moment that ever matters in life is this moment right now. Or is it this moment now? Or this one? Or maybe this one? Well, you get the point. The past is done and over with, and the future will never arrive. Spend this holiday season in the present, enjoying each moment as it comes.

Make a personal challenge to yourself, to improve your interpersonal relationships. Get to know someone on a deeper level, or maybe several people. Any bit that you do to stay engaged, positive and present will make each holiday event and gather that much more full of spirit and joy. And I think that is what the season is all about, joy.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday full of love and connection,

Nancy

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