Find common ground to strengthen relationships
Are you ready to reject a sibling, spouse, or coworker because you argue constantly?
Most of us have a few relationships that rub us the wrong way. However, if we all dumped each person who got on our nerves, we’d have no one left.
Every single person in the universe has some irritating traits or character flaws.
But, changing others is not likely to happen. So, the next best route is figuring out how to strengthen our relationships and make them work. Our best bet is to act out different behaviours and build on what’s already working.
“It once dawned on me that I always had a list of problems for my husband,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Susie. “He dreaded to chat with me, and trying to discuss sticky issues only made things worse.”
Susie told us she finally figured out that building common ground was important. “If people have a lot in common, they can handle the problems together as a team,” Susie insists.
We think Susie is right. Any two people who form bonds of loyalty and common ground can work through just about anything.
“I started talking to my husband about his fishing trips, gardening, and favourite sports teams,” Susie explains. “The change in our relationship was amazing. It’s erased a lot of the tension between us.”
When we build common ground, it’s much easier to have a dialogue about irritating concerns with another person.
To build common ground with someone, try these tips:
- Gain insight into any worries another person has. For example, if you know that your co-worker has a sick child or her husband just got laid off, give her some kind words. People will trust you if they realise you care about their stress.
- Find out what gives them pleasure. If you know, for example, your coworker has a rose garden and you give him a book on growing roses, you’ve tapped into a more intimate relationship with him.
- Offer some real help. If your sister gets sick, offer to pick up her kids or shop for her. A true friend does something physical for another person. Make it clear you’re willing to take action in order to make life easier for someone.
“I have a coworker who was getting on everyone’s nerves,” says an HR manager we’ll call Brianna. “But, my eyes were opened when I found out he was caring for two elderly parents in his home.”
Brianna explained to her coworker that she’d walked in his shoes. “Caregiving an elderly parent can be much more difficult than caring for an infant,” says Brianna. “You need some real help from other people.”
Brianna sat down with the overly stressed coworker and helped him create a plan. She found two women in their city who help care for elderly people at very affordable rates.
“My coworker hired these women, who take turns working four hours total each day,” Brianna told us. “Their help has saved his sanity and his wife’s, too. Building common ground with my coworker gave him someone to talk to, someone who cares – me.”
In order to create harmony with another person, let them know you can envision their lifestyle. If others feel comforted or empowered by you, the relationship will be stronger.
Tribune News Service
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