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Keeping your relationships healthy and alive

Keeping your relationships healthy and alive requires interpersonal skills. Interpersonal effectiveness skills are a combination of social-skills training, assertiveness training, and listening skills that are crucial for maintaining healthy and strong relationships. These skills, as outlined by various authors and therapists, are essential for building and nurturing connections with others.

Maintaining a good relationship, whether it's with a partner, friend, colleague, or anyone else, relies on being attuned to the other person's emotions and reactions. This involves observing non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and choice of words during conversations to grasp the mood and state of the relationship.

Paying attention in relationships means being fully present in the moment, focusing on what is being communicated and noticed emotionally. It allows for the early detection of potential issues and provides an opportunity to ask clarifying questions to address and resolve any misconceptions.

On the other hand, not paying attention can lead to missing important cues, projecting fears onto others, and reacting negatively when faced with a surprise, which could have been foreseen with proper attention. Mindful attention also involves being introspective about your own needs, desires, and emotional reactions within the relationship. This self-awareness can help in identifying necessary changes in the relationship dynamics before conflicts arise.

In summary, mindful attention is the foundational interpersonal skill that aids in understanding the signals and dynamics of a relationship, allowing one to proactively address issues and maintain a healthy connection with others. This can be practiced by observing and attending to the behavior of the other person in conversations, and by being aware of one's own needs and feelings. Asking clarifying questions can also help in enhancing understanding within the relationship.

Passive and aggressive behaviors significantly impact relationships. While passivity may initially seem to protect relationships by going along with others' expectations, it ultimately leads to frustration, resentment, and potential relationship breakdown. On the other hand, aggressive behaviors, driven by the need to control interpersonal events and a strong sense of how others should behave, can push people away and damage relationships.

​Assertiveness skills offer a middle ground, providing the tools to express needs, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts without resorting to anger or coercive control. This balanced approach is essential for seeking what is needed in relationships, setting limits, and negotiating conflicts in a healthy manner.

Think back over recent interactions in your five most significant relationships. Place a check

next to the statements that reflect your typical behavior:

1. I go along with something, even if I don’t like it.

2. I push people to do what’s right, even if there’s an upset.

3. I try to be pleasant and easygoing, no matter what people do or say.

4. I give people a piece of my mind when they deserve it.

5. I always try to be sensitive to what other people need and feel, even if my own needs

get lost in the process.

6. I know what I want and insist on it, even if it means having to get angry.

7. When there’s a conflict, I tend to give in and let things go the other person’s way

8. When people don’t do what’s appropriate or reasonable, I don’t let them get away with it. 9. I’ll pull away from a relationship rather than say anything that could be upsetting.

10. You can’t let people continue being selfish or stupid; you have to shake them till they see what they’re doing.

11. I leave people alone, let them be whatever they are.

12. If people ignore my needs or insist on things that don’t work for me, I get more and more upset till they pay attention.

If you tended to mark odd numbers, your predominant style is passive; if you checked even numbers, you may have a tendency to an aggressive problem-solving style.


Every relationship consists of two people trying to get what they need. Sometimes they need the same thing—companionship, recreation, calm, and quiet—and it’s easy. But when they need different things at the same time, or when one of them needs something the other doesn’t want to give, there’s trouble. For relationships to succeed you must be able to do the following:

 Know and say what you desire.

 Notice or find out what the other person desires.

 Negotiate and compromise so you can get at least some of what you want.

 Give what you can of what the other person wants.

If the “I want–they want” ratio isn’t balanced, your relationship becomes unstable. Paying

attention to what each person desires and using assertiveness skills to negotiate conflicts is vital to maintaining healthy relationships.

At your service

With Kindness and Compassion


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