Humans are intrinsically social beings. As a species, it’s been hardwired into us to live within a community framework. Of course, there are definitely other examples of community-based existence in the animal kingdom, like baboons or even elephants for that matter. However, what makes humans different is how complex our relationships can get.
One of the most obvious complexities in human relationships is the fact that we take the people closest to us for granted. This is especially the case with our immediate family members and circle of friends. The reasons behind this may vary. We are genuinely being pulverized by our daily schedule, with very little time to spend with the people who we actually care about, and we’re investing too much of our time on social media.
Food is the universal glue that mends or reinforces just about any relationship. Sharing a meal with someone communicates a certain level of intimacy. If you’re trying to catch up with your inner circle, this is probably the best investment of your time. Even with a hectic schedule, this is a breeze. The family dinner is a great time to catch up with what happened during the course of the day. It’s also a great “mood-meter” that helps you zero in on the state of mind of each family member.
The same applies to friends. You can make one day of the week for your friends to regroup and wind down. Apart from strengthening buddy bonds, it can also give you a different perspective on what’s going on around you.
Often portrayed as a social distancing tool these days, the inherent design of social media apps was definitely to bring people closer. Just because it evolved into something else doesn’t mean you can’t still stay in touch through these channels. Wish someone a Happy Birthday on their birthday, and add a personal touch to your wish instead of simply a bland sticker or meme. It certainly makes a difference. When someone sends best wishes to you, thank them and make a personal inquiry into their lives, not necessarily immediately, but at some point.
You don’t really have to set aside time separately for spending quality time with your friends and family. Involve kids in your daily chores, like folding the laundry, rearranging a room, or washing dishes. It’s a great time to make simple conversation and get a feel for their energy levels. It’s these candid moments that build relationships. Take your spouse or significant other along for your grocery run. Again, it’s your personal time that gives you a window of opportunity to bond — make use of it.
Listening is an art
We often make the mistake of trying to be the “solution specialist” or “personal hype squad” for everyone around us. More often than not, your friend or family member just needs someone to listen to them and acknowledge a situation from their perspective. So if you feel someone close to you is a bit off and needs to talk, just direct the conversation back to them and let them volunteer information on what’s bothering them. Empathy works much better than sympathy.
We find it uneasy expressing feelings of warmth with our circle and ironically find these interactions forced and awkward. That being said, it’s important to maintain these relationships and put in quality time as these are the investments that are going to build emotional stability and a positive thought process that helps you face challenges in your life effectively.