So, an individual who only sees his or her friends or relatives less than once a month to never at all would require around an extra £63,000 a year to be just as satisfied with life as an individual who sees his or her friends or relatives on most days.
Not spending more time with friends and family is one of the things people regret the most.
So what does the research tell us about how to strengthen and improve our friendships?
Want to improve any relationship? The first step is try. Yeah, so easy you forgot to do it.
Simple things can have the most profound impact, like actively showing interest in the other person. Listen to what they have to say and ask them to tell you more.
It is engaged, enthusiastic, curious and has supportive nonverbal action. Ask questions. Be excited. Ask for details. Smile. Touch. Laugh.
Share your own good news when you have some:
…sharing good news with others increases the perceived value of those events, especially when others respond enthusiastically, and that enthusiastic responses to shared good news promote the development of trust and a prosocial orientation toward the other. These studies found consistent support for these effects across both interactions with strangers and in everyday close relationships.
Show gratitude. Gratitude is a miracle drug:
- It will make you happier.
- It will improve your relationships.
- It can make you a better person.
- It can make life better for everyone around you.
Stay in touch. Communicating every two weeks keeps friendships alive:
…“the leading cause of persistent relationships is reciprocity — returning a friend’s call.” Further, they said friends ’til the end tend to touch base at least once every 15 days.
Leverage technology to improve your relationships, don’t let it replace them.
The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” Surely, I suggest to Cacioppo, this means that Facebook and the like inevitably make people lonelier. He disagrees. Facebook is merely a tool, he says, and like any tool, its effectiveness will depend on its user. “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy.
The typical reaction to all of the above statements is: That’s obvious. I know that. And then guess what?
People don’t do them for six months and wonder what happened. Knowing and doing are two different things.
Work On Yourself
Improve your self control. People more in control of themselves have better relationships.
…the more total self-control, the better the relationship fared. Multiple benefits were found for having mutually high self-control, including relationship satisfaction, forgiveness, secure attachment, accommodation, healthy and committed styles of loving, smooth daily interactions, absence of conflict, and absence of feeling rejected.
How do you strengthen those self-control muscles? Go here.
The expectations people have about how others will behave play a large role in determining whether people cooperate with each other or not… One’s own expectation thereby becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: those who expect people to act selfishly, actually experience uncooperative behaviour from others more often.
Don’t be a conversational narcissist. What’s that? “Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves”:
Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves. Your first reaction to this statement is likely, “Oh, I don’t do that, but I know someone who does!” But not so fast. Conversational narcissism typically does not manifest itself in obviously boorish plays for attention; most people give at least some deference to social norms and etiquette. Instead, it takes much more subtle forms, and we’re all guilty of it from time to time. Everyone has felt that itch where we couldn’t wait for someone to stop talking so we could jump in; we pretended to be listening intently, but we were really focusing on what we were about to say once we found an opening.
Here‘s how to be a better listener.
Keep the 5 to 1 ratio in mind. Five good experiences for every bad one.
It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…
What’s even scarier is that Losada’s five-to-one ratio also appears to be essential when you get home and try to muster the energy for a successful marriage. John Gottmann at the University of Washington has found that couples with a ratio of fewer than five positive interactions for every negative one are destined for divorce.
Curiously, the magic number also seems to have a close parallel in the ratio of positive behaviors…and negative behaviors…among monkeys and apes. Thus the five-to-one ratio begins to look suspiciously like a basic primate need.
Don’t take that to mean you always have to be positive: Sharing negative feelings about a third party can increase closeness between two people.
We all value warmth over competence in friends but we often forget this:
- When assessing someone else, warmth plays a more important role than competence.
- When assessing ourselves, we believe that competence (the capability of someone to carry out intentions) is more important.
So stop trying to be useful and just be kind.
What’s the best way to give a friend advice? You need to provide a suggestion without it feeling like you’re telling them what to do:
Say “When I’ve had that problem in the past what I’ve done is…” instead of “You should do this…“
And you’re gonna screw up. We all screw up. Know the keys to a good apology.
Turning Enemies Into Friends
How can you win over someone who already doesn’t like you? Compliment them or ask their advice.
…superordinate goals (goals so large that it requires more than one group to achieve the goal) reduced conflict significantly more effectively than other strategies (e.g., communication, contact).
Trying To Make New Friends?
Here are 4 things to keep in mind:
- Expect that others will like you and they probably will.
- Trying to seem smart makes you seem stupid.
- What you say about others says more about you.
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