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Strong relationships contribute to a long, healthy, and happy life. Here's how to increase your health and happiness.

Healthy relationships are a vital component of health and well being. There is compelling evidence that strong relationships contribute to a long, healthy, and happy life. Conversely, the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure, and obesity.
Research shows that healthy relationships can help you:

  • Live longer
  • Deal with stress
  • Be healthier
  • Feel richer

Relationship Building

Real success, the kind that exists on multiple levels, is impossible without building great relationships. Real success is impossible unless you treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect. That’s why people who build extraordinary business and personal relationships:

Take The Hit

A customer gets mad. A vendor complains about poor service. A mutual friend feels slighted. Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They’re willing to accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it–and they know that maybe, just maybe, the other person can’t. Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship.

Step In Without Being Asked

It’s easy to help when you’re asked. Most people will. Very few people offer help before they have been asked, even though most of the time that is when a little help will make the greatest impact. People who build extraordinary relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. Then they offer to help, but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way. Instead they come up with specific ways they can help. That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections. And they can roll up their sleeves and make a difference in another person’s life. Not because they want to build a better relationship, although that is certainly the result, but simply because they care.

Answer The Question That is Not Asked

Where relationships are concerned, face value is usually without value. Often people will ask a different question than the one they really want answered. A colleague might ask you whether he should teach a class at a local college; what he really wants to talk about is how to take his life in a different direction. A partner might ask how you felt about the idea he presented during the last board meeting; what he really wants to talk about is his diminished role in the running of the company. An employee might ask how you built a successful business; instead of kissing up he might be looking for some advice–and encouragement–to help him follow his own dreams. Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships think about what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.

Know When To Dial It Back

Outgoing and charismatic people are usually a lot of fun… until they aren’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, still, some people can’t stop “expressing their individuality.” People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.Great relationships are multifaceted and therefore require multifaceted people willing to adapt to the situation–and to the people in that situation.

Prove They Think Of Others

People who build great relationships don’t just think about other people. They act on those thoughts. One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise. Praise helps others feel better about themselves and lets them know you’re thinking about them. Take a little time every day to do something nice for someone you know, not because you’re expected to but simply because you can. When you do, your relationships improve dramatically.

Realize When They Have Acted Poorly

Most people apologize when their actions or words are called into question.

Very few people apologize before they are asked to–or even before anyone notices they should. Responsibility is a key building block of a great relationship. People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don’t try to push any of the blame back on the other person–those are people everyone wants in their lives, because they instantly turn a mistake into a bump in the road rather than a permanent roadblock.

Give Consistently, Receive Occasionally

A great relationship is mutually beneficial. That means connecting with people who can be mentors, who can share information, who can help create other connections; in short, that means going into a relationship wanting something.

The person who builds great relationships doesn’t think about what she wants; she starts by thinking about what she can give. She sees giving as the best way to establish a real relationship and a lasting connection. She approaches building relationships as if it’s all about the other person and not about her, and in the process builds relationships with people who follow the same approach. In time they make real connections. And in time they make real friends.

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