The 3 Cs of a Healthy Connection
by Paige Dest
Humans need social connections to survive. They help ensure our health and happiness. But not all social connections are beneficial; in fact, some connections can be unhealthy. So how do you identify and avoid unhealthy relationships? What steps can you take to establish healthy relationships?
There are three key skills you can use to strengthen your relationships and build beneficial bonds: communication, conflict resolution and collaboration. It’s no surprise that these are among the competencies of emotional intelligence.
This involves first opening and listening deeply to the other person. This can often be difficult, because naturally the mind tends to wander or will attempt to prepare a response based on pre-assumed judgements. It takes focus and practice to listen fully to the other person, but it is so important when building a full and trusting relationship. As the saying goes, “Seek first to understand.”
Listen not only to what the person is saying verbally, but also nonverbally. Often there is discontinuity in the speech—between the words spoken, the body language presented and/or the tone being used. Be sympathetic to the person’s opinion, even if you don’t agree with it. Everyone has a right to their thoughts. Seek a mutual interest or goal to build a bridge of understanding. Ask questions to clarify and repeat back or paraphrase to ensure an understanding. If there is no mutual interest or goal, perhaps it is not the best connection for you personally. In that case, learn to walk away. Maintain your composure and keep your words kind and constructive, but gravitate away from the person.
Everyone faces conflicts in relationships, but it’s how you handle them together that can make the relationship either healthy or unhealthy. People manage conflict in various ways, each with their own approach and preferred style of influencing others. It’s important to recognize your style by becoming more self-aware—especially in the moment. There are five main conflict styles, each having its purpose:
Competitive – best used when quick decisive action is required
Collaborative – best used when issues are too important to be compromised
Avoidance – best used when the issues are not important or when a “cooling down” period is beneficial
Accommodating – best when the issues are more important to the other party or when you wish to be seen as reasonable
Compromising – best when the relationship is more important than the issue or there is no clear solution to the conflict
The state of collaboration is a beautiful togetherness among two or more people working cooperatively toward a shared goal. It involves being courteous and respectful to others, soliciting the other points of view and being open and honest with your resources and information. It involves putting the needs of the team above one’s own and committing to the team identity.
Building healthy relationships may take time and effort, but it is worth it in the end. Always remember the most important relationship, and the one that matters most to your health—your relationship with yourself. Always listen deeply to your heart, be patient with yourself and surround yourself with those who lift you up.
Paige Dest is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach and Core Values Index Practitioner. She is the owner of BYODestiny, through which she provides emotional intelligence coaching to individuals and presents retreats, workshops, and national webinars on emotional intelligence and related topics. She is also the founder of The Flutter Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that promotes and supports social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in Connecticut schools. She will present a workshop on the Circle of Happiness at Spa Soli in West Hartford, CT on October 15. Connect at [email protected] or purchase tickets at http://bit.ly/HappinessCircle1910.