Developing healthy relationships can be a challenge for anyone. Properly expressing one’s thoughts and feelings is one of the driving forces to getting along with others. It seems that some men may not have developed the social skills that can create better relations.
So, what are the key things a man can do to improve relationships with those close to him? Let’s start off with communication. For so long, I grew up not knowing how to express myself. I was a shy kid who was very unsure of himself and when I did communicate it was often a reaction to something. Unfortunately, my “reaction” almost always came out in anger. I did not learn until my mid-twenties that I had the ability to learn to change.
One of the first things I needed to do was learn about emotions and how to communicate them to others. I really did not have a good grasp on the range of feelings that occur within myself. Anger and happiness were the two emotions that I knew all too well. But, because I was fortunate to meet some “normal” level headed people, both male and female, my knowledge of ALL emotions developed. Moreover, my ability to express these feelings improved. It was a strength rather than a weakness to express my feelings to family, friends and sometimes co-workers.
Next, it was important for me to listen to others. The skill of reflective listening was critical for me to learn and it was developed by practicing it. For instance, one activity for me would be to sit with another person and when they finished one thought I would repeat back in my own words what they were saying. This helped the other person know that I understood what he or she was trying to convey to me. Another great tip I picked up was to try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I had to try to experience what they were saying to me. This tip helped me develop empathy. A recent article discusses some of these ideas and how they can positively impact children.
One of the biggest words of advice given to me was to think before speaking. In addition, it was okay to pause before speaking and maybe most important, it was okay to say I did not know the answer to something. So, my standard reply often would be “I don’t know but let me get back to you.” These skills helped me become more confident with myself and in general became a better person. I now had a range of skills that became the key to developing the connections with those in my life. Now, my life is more meaningful!