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Bonding time: 7 tips to deepen your relationships

June 2, 2022 - 17 min read

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Why are relationships so important for our emotional well-being?

What is relational mindfulness?

7 relational mindfulness practices to help you deepen your relationships

How to deepen a relationship with a friend

How to deepen a relationship with your partner

How to deepen a relationship with a coworker

12 extra questions you can ask to deepen your connection with anyone

Your next move: Start with yourself

Learning how to deepen your relationships can make your work and your personal life better. Whether you want to feel more connected to your partner or have a better relationship with your boss, this skill will help. 

We all want the important people in our lives to know we care: our best friends, family members, and coworkers. Sometimes, though, we feel the connection fading. We might lose touch for a while or get a little too focused on ourselves. But even if we see someone every day, having a deep relationship takes work. 

There are small ways to show someone you care, like buying flowers for your partner or buying a coffee for your favorite coworker. However, if you truly want to make that relationship more meaningful, you’ll have to take it a step further. 

Deepening a relationship starts with strengthening your communication skills. It also requires you to take action in a way that supports everyone’s well-being. Getting to know someone can be tough — but there’s no time like the present to start learning how to deepen your relationships.

 

Why are relationships so important for our emotional well-being?

You don’t have to be a social butterfly to realize why relationships are meaningful. Relationships allow us to listen to others and their perspectives. Our relationships also provide comfort when we need it and help us deal with life’s stressors. 

Let’s say something’s been bothering you, and you don’t know how to fix it. Your best friend can help you problem solve your issue by offering work or relationship advice. Together, you can talk through your worries. Or, you can simply ask your friend to validate your feelings when you need it. 

Relationships also motivate us to take better care of ourselves and prioritize our well-being. The people who care about you may notice when you’re struggling and offer their support.

They want to see you thriving more than anyone else. Plus, spending quality time with your friends reminds you that you’re loved, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The deeper the relationship, the greater the benefits.

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What is relational mindfulness?

Relational mindfulness is a practice that focuses our energy on the present moment. It directs us to think about how we’re feeling and why we’re behaving a certain way. When we give more attention to the present in this way, we’ll feel more aware of our emotions.

This will help you creates intimate, trustworthy relationships with people. It’s a great way to connect on a deeper level and give our relationships more attention.

Let’s say you’re at a party with your friends and you’re having a great time, but you notice that one of your friends is avoiding people. Their voice is quiet and they aren’t making eye contact with others.

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They seem uncomfortable interacting and you can tell they’re experiencing some social anxiety

Instead of disregarding their feelings because you're enjoying yourself, relational mindfulness makes you consider their feelings. You’re trying to be mindful that just because this party is fun for you doesn’t mean it’s fun for everyone else.

You can then make a greater effort to include your friend in the conversation you’re having.

Relational mindfulness isn’t a strategy you can use and expect results within a minute. You’ll need compassion and positive self-talk to be present. From there, you can face relationship challenges head-on instead of avoiding them.

7 relational mindfulness practices to help you deepen your relationships

Learning how to deepen emotional connections will support our overall well-being. Using relational mindfulness, you can improve your reactions and awareness as a way to become a better friend.

Relational mindfulness will help you slow down. Instead of reacting quickly and without consideration for others, you’ll be able to see what the right thing to do is in the moment. As a result, you’ll have healthier relationships. 

Learn how to deepen your relationships with these 7 relational mindfulness practices:

1. Face challenges head-on

No one likes feeling uncomfortable, challenged, or inconvenienced — but we can’t go our whole lives without encountering some roadblocks.

Using relational mindfulness, you can turn toward what’s challenging you. When you feel jealous, angry, or sad, don’t ignore it.

Take the time to figure out why you’re feeling that way (rather than ignoring it). This will help you be a better friend because you’ll be able to communicate your emotions better and know when to ask for help.

2. Speak up for yourself

Sadly, nobody can read your mind. Perhaps some people understand you better than others. However, no one can figure out your true feelings unless you communicate them.

Whatever you feel about a project at work or how your friend has been treating you lately, you must use your voice.

By strengthening your communication skills, you will be able to speak your truth. This is important for deepening your relationships since it will allow those relationships to be based on your authentic self.

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3. Be compassionate

Being aware of yourself might make you shudder at some of your habits or awkward social behaviors. Throwing some compassion toward yourself will give you the space you need to listen to your feelings and heart.

Be sure to acknowledge the effort you’re putting in to better your future relationships. And once you have compassion for yourself, you can more easily extend it to others.

4. Ask why you take things personally

As we think deeply and more mindfully, it can be easy to start taking things personally. We can become consumed with how people talk to us and what they actually mean.

But by not taking things personally, we’ll stay more connected to others. By no means should you ignore your true feelings, but try to be more curious about what bothers you instead of reacting quickly.

5. Take responsibility for your actions

Blaming others is an easy way to react to things. In difficult times, you might want to blame others rather than accept what your actions have caused. Instead, try to take responsibility for yourself.

Then, use these moments as an opportunity to learn for next time. What mistakes have you made, and how can you avoid making them next time?

6. Pay attention to what’s happening around you

If you pay attention to your surroundings, you can better understand who you are and your own values. How did your environment develop you into who you are today? Then use that understanding to evaluate your reactions.

All this will help you be a better friend because you’ll have a better understanding of yourself.

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7. Don’t be quick to judge others

Why do you ask certain questions? Do you judge people too quickly? Taking the time to be mindful of why you’re making assumptions helps you become more aware of your habits.

Questioning your thoughts in the present moment doesn’t have to take much time, but it can help you think before you act. Mindfulness allows you to deepen your relationships without hindering them with judgmental thoughts.

It can be hard to break your patterns and be more mindful. If you need extra support, BetterUp can provide the accountability you need to add these practices to your daily routine.

How to deepen a relationship with a friend

Healthy relationships with our friends do more than strengthen our bonds. They teach us how to improve our social skills and be kinder to people in the world. Your relationships with your friends can be just as crucial as the ones with your family members, too.

Here are four tips on how to deepen relationships with friends:

  1. Be honest with them and don’t lie about your feelings
  2. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge how you appreciate their friendship and support
  3. Know when to apologize and admit you were wrong
  4. Accept the differences you have and let them teach you new things

How to deepen a relationship with your partner

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day to let your partner know how much you appreciate them. With a bit of intention, you can learn how to strengthen your relationship with your partner.

Here are four tips to consider:

  1. Talk about your fears and boundaries with one another
  2. Experience new things together
  3. Make time to unplug from social media and focus on each other by having a date night, playing board games, or going out for dinner
  4. Learn each other’s love languages and make sure you’re using them

How to deepen a relationship with a coworker

Sometimes, the people you see in the office are just that — coworkers. It’s nice to have someone at work whom you can count on to complain to or eat lunch with. 

If you’re wondering how to bridge the gap between “the person who sits beside me” and “my friend at work,” here are four tips:

  1. Invite them to eat lunch with you or suggest taking a walk together on your break
  2. Listen to them when they mention personal details. Then, follow up — if you know they have a partner or children, make sure you ask about them
  3. Ask if they need help with a project or a person to vent to if they seem overwhelmed
  4. Stand up for them in a meeting if someone shoots down an idea or dismisses what they have to say

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12 extra questions you can ask to deepen your connection with anyone

We’ve discussed deepening connections with our friends, partners, and other loved ones. However, we all have other people in our lives that whom we can deepen our connections with. From our hairdresser to our kids’ babysitter, we can get to know anyone better with the right questions. 

The questions we ask don’t have to be super invasive or cross relationship boundaries, but they still need to spark discussion. We can better understand each other through these discussions, even if it doesn’t turn into a deep friendship right away. 

If you want to know how to deepen your relationships with anyone, try asking one of these 12 questions:

  1. Is there something you’re having trouble with that I can help you resolve?
  2. Have I hurt your feelings recently?
  3. What’s something that always makes you smile?
  4. How can I avoid putting more stress on you?
  5. Who is your favorite artist and why?
  6. What does your dream Saturday look like?
  7. What’s a skill you wish you had?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
  9. Did you always know what you wanted your career to be?
  10. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  11. What’s at the top of your bucket list?
  12. What’s one object that isn’t technology that you can’t live without?

Your next move: Start with yourself

Moving forward, we need to understand that we can’t have meaningful connections with others if we don’t have a strong connection with ourselves. Our well-being and mental health must always be a top priority. How we treat ourselves has an impact on how we treat others, and relational mindfulness is an excellent way to recognize both in our daily lives. 

A happy relationship with someone else helps us grow, inspire one another, and reach our goals. We can all uplift and bring out the best in one another.

To deepen your relationship with others, you must value your well-being and be able to communicate with those around you. Consider trying BetterUp so that you can develop habits that will help you form deeper connections for years to come.

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Published June 2, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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