How many strong relationships do you have? British anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that we could only comfortably maintain about 150 stable relationships. We certainly can’t have 150 strong relationships, but we can all get better at developing relationships with friends and people we want to get to know better.
Today we seem to be so busy that we don’t make time to develop strong relationships. We have work, kids activities, outside interests and other things that take our time and attention.
We can all get better at building stronger relationships. To build strong relationships we need to know about the person and we need to maintain contact.
How many of these can you answer about your close friends?
- What are the names of their kids?
- Where do they go to school?
- How old are they?
- What activities are they involved in?
- What is the name and occupation of their Spouse/Significant Other?
- What hobbies do they have?
- What they do for fun?
- What they do on their job?
- Where are they from?
- What college did they attend?
- What are their favorite foods?
- What do they like to drink?
- What is their favorite restaurant?
This is just a starter list. The more you know about someone the stronger the relationship.
To develop and maintain close relationships with friends we also need to stay connected. How often do you reach out to connect to your close friends? Do you contact them or do they contact you? Friendships where one person is always making the contact tend to diminish over time. Make sure that you reach out to connect as often as the other person to maintain your close friendships.
Ways to connect with your relationships
- Send a handwritten note in the mail. Hand written notes are a lost art. They are very powerful. People will tend to save a handwritten note.
- Go to lunch or coffee. Face to face connection is the best way to connect and spend time.
- Call on the phone. A phone call is a great way to talk when you are unable to meet face to face.
- Send a text. Texts are good to just ask “how are you” or “I was just thinking about you today”
- Send a card in the mail. Let them know you were thinking about them. People still like to get cards in the mail.
- Send an email to check in. A quick email can be used like a text.
Today there are social media ways to connect too, but they are not as personal as the list of ways to connect above. Social media can be used when you are both online.
One of the keys to strong relationships and friendships is being there when a friend needs someone to talk to or just to be with. Everyone goes through things in life like illness, divorce, death and loss of jobs. It is during these times that people learn who their friends are. Be there for your friends.
Compliment your friends often and lift them up when you can. Really good friends bring out the best in each other and challenge each other to be their best.