Relationships come in all shapes, sizes, and packages. Whether we know them for a minute or for the rest of our lives, we have a relationship with everyone we meet. Why are some of us good at having meaningful relationships, while others struggle? We all want strong relationships because they enrich our lives.

How do we go about creating these impactful relationships?

What you get out of a relationship depends on the time and energy you put into maintaining it. If you are in a relationship for support, you must be supportive. If you want to be loved, you must love. The reason relationships end is because one or the other is not getting what they need from the other party in that relationship.

Ask yourself, why would someone want to have a relationship with you? Are you kind and thoughtful? Do you listen? Would you make a difference in someone else’s life?

Do you care? When you meet someone for the first time, it’s important that you genuinely care about the other person’s interests. They will most likely care about your interests when you do the same for them.

Workplace relationships can be just about work, as creating a positive connection with co-workers makes work more fun. Maybe your relationship is only in the workplace. That’s fine, as every relationship does not have to extend to every area of your life.

I sometimes consider the best neighbors to be just that: good neighbors. I don’t necessarily want them always banging on my door all the time. I want to see them outside, wave, chat, help them if they need it; I don’t necessarily need to be really close to them. I want a good neighbor, so I’ll be a good neighbor to them. That’s the extent of what I want that relationship to be.

Understand what kind of relationship you want to have and that there might be limits on what works for you. If you are meant to be close, both of you will recognize that fact and it will happen without effort.

I truly love relationships. I like the gardener guy that talks about sports with me. I enjoy the company of the waitress at my favorite restaurant; we chat about her children, school, etc. These relationships are not deeply personal, but they are relationships just the same. I get back a smile, a wave, someone who cheerfully delivers my wine and dinner. It’s a relationship.

Years ago, I interviewed for a job. On the way in for my interview, I chatted with the security guy downstairs. I found out he was from New Jersey, same as me. When I arrived upstairs and met the receptionist, she was just getting off the phone. She smiled at me and asked me if I needed anything. After the interviewee before me left, she went into the office, and came back and told me to follow her.

As I shook the hand of the manager, he said I had come with high recommendations. I was puzzled, as I hadn’t given him my resume yet.

He then told me that his receptionist was friends with the security guy, and that the security guy had called upstairs to tell her what a nice guy I was. She told that to the manager and I got the job without ever handing him my resume.

That was a five-minute relationship I had with the security guard. Maybe I would have gotten the job without it, but that short interaction certainly made it easier.

Our lives consist of hundreds of relationships. Put some work into them, even if they are only for five minutes, and you will get back much more than you could imagine. They all count.

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