Would you like to feel more connected with your partner? If you aren’t with a partner right now, you can use these ideas in any relationship (well, most of them). Your kids crave connection, your siblings might too (even if they don’t know how to connect with you).
1. Tell them what they are good at or what you appreciate about them.
Everybody loves to hear about their positive traits. It is nice, reassuring and sometimes it may even surprise them. Don’t lie. Tell the truth but be specific. Saying, “You are a great friend” is kind. However, saying, “I really value how you always take the time to call me more when you know I am struggling” can mean more because it is specific. It adds credibility.
2. Give them what they want, not what you think they want.
I like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I can’t tell you how many couples walk into my office “giving” to their partners, without realizing what they were giving was not what was wanted. They feel taken advantage of or unappreciated. This can shift dramatically if what you give is what the person really wants, such as time together or a back rub. The same is true for kids and friends.
3. Respect them.
The word respect is not a word that rolls off the tongue often. Try using words like this with your partner, friend, child or parent. “I really respect how hard you work every day. I can tell you really care about us.” Respect is a powerful word, and people don’t realize how much they crave it.
4. Laugh with them.
Life can be tough some days. Try to laugh at whatever possible. If your kid accidentally drops a glass of milk, make a joke out of it (not sarcasm). Try to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes too. Showing others that it is okay to be imperfect and to find joy in the everyday makes you someone they want to be with and learn from. If you are a laugher, I will take the seat next to you, please. Because I am too!
5. Do something scary with them.
This is called the Misattribution of Arousal Paradigm. It refers to an experiment where men and women had to walk toward each other from a bridge that was so high it raised adrenaline levels. The guys were then more likely to call the girls because they thought the excitement was caused by the girl, not the stimulus. Why not try it and go to a scary movie with your honey? Then, hold their hand so they don’t get too scared.
6. Ask them unique and creative questions about their life. Ask them questions that you don’t normally ask, like, “What part of your day to you enjoy the most? Is there anything going on this week that you are dreading?”
We all can get in a rut with asking things like, “How was your day?” Change it up a bit. Make up some questions that are different than what you usually ask. This will intrigue them and may intensify how you are relating because it is unusual.
7. Make sure to follow up on topics they have shared about, like problems with their boss. That way, they know you have listened, have thought about it, and are invested in how they are doing. This conveys interest, care and concern.
Let me know if you try any of these.
About the author: Cherilynn M. Veland, LCSW, MSW, is author of the forthcoming book Stop Giving It Away. She leads a new self-advocacy movement intended to help women reach out, speak up, and take action steps for what’s best for them. Please support this effort by liking the Facebook page and/or subscribing for updates on my blog. You can also connect on Twitter and Google Plus. “Help me out, sisters!”