20 Things That Will Strengthen Your Relationships

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  ~ Jane Howard

Eleven years ago today, thousands of people lost loved ones, members of their ‘family’, in one of the most tragic events in United States history.

Family doesn’t have to mean blood related or related by marriage. Family are also those people who lift you up and encourage you, make you smile, know when to offer a bear hug or a silly joke, the ones who accept you for who you are and loves you for you.

All of these relationships, especially the ones that encourage growth, acceptance and appreciation, need nurturing. Below are 20 bits of advice to ensure those relationships continue to bloom and flourish as well as to seed new, healthy connections.

20 Tips to Strengthen and Grow Your Special Relationships

1. Surround yourself with positive people

Life is too short to surround yourself with negative, soul-crushing, joy-diminishing people. Relationships should help both people involved. They should be based on mutual respect, admiration and love. Remove yourself from the presence of people that bring you down and make it a point to be a positive, bright influence in the lives of others.

2. Pay attention to the relationship with yourself

The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. Take time to listen to you, your wants, your hopes and aspirations, your feelings. Liking, loving and accepting yourself is the first step in being able to have other healthy relationships.

To let love in, we must first love ourselves.

3. Learn who your real friends are

Quality really does trump quantity when it comes to true friends. Real friends are priceless. They are the ones that have your back no matter what. They stick around when the going gets tough while others hightail it out at the first sign of the party ending.

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. ~ Oprah Winfrey

4. Talk less, listen more

Be the one who listens with an open heart and mind free of judgement. Most of us don’t want advice, we want and need a sounding board to allow us to express our thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.

5. Allow others to make their own choices

Following closely on the heels of listening is the gift of letting people make their own decisions. Everyone has different experiences, each person is living a life unique to them alone. This means what is good for one person might not work well for another. Solid relationships allow for supporting each other’s choices.


6. Communicate clearly

Don’t try to read other people’s minds and don’t expect them to read yours. Say what you mean. State it clearly and gently. Be open and transparent. Communication and it’s counterpart, listening, are two very crucial human connections and can often make or break a relationship.

Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening. ~ Emma Thompson

7. Give what you want to receive in return

Practice the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This simple practice works. To receive love, give it. To gain friends, be friendly. To have kindness bestowed upon you, be kind. To be accepted and appreciated, accept and appreciate others.

8. Be open and honest

It is always best to tell the truth, even if it is a difficult truth to tell. Lies and half truths always are exposed and lead to mistrust. Don’t commit to something you don’t intend to do. Keep your promises. Don’t play games.

Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the truth. ~ Oprah Winfrey

9. Stay in touch with those that matter

“Distance is not measured in miles, but in affection.”

Two people can be sitting next to each other yet be miles apart. Paying attention to those you care about is a priority to maintaining a solid foundation of love. Leave a love note, send a text to say hello, call and chat, mail a card. Make the effort to keep those you care about close.

10. Be loyal

Loyalty and friendship, which is to me the same, created all the wealth that I’ve ever thought I’d have. ~Ernie Banks

Being faithful to those you love, standing beside them when the going gets tough, being true to each other and having each others’ back, is a fundamental building block in strong, stable relationships.

11. Do little things each day to show appreciation

Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret. ~ Mary Kay Ash

Treat those you appreciate like royalty. Let them know how much they mean to you. Say thank you, send gifts ‘just because’, find little ways to express your gratitude for their friendship, support, love and acceptance.

12. Forgive and move forward

Holding a grudge, hanging onto resentment for something someone ‘did’ to you ultimately ends up hurting you much more than anyone else. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting what happened but it is the path to letting go of anger and resentment. It is a choice to learn, grow and move on instead of focusing on being miserable or a victim.

Remember: there will be many times in our lives in which we will have to learn to forgive as well as be the forgiven.

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.
~ Thomas Fuller

13. Be yourself, as imperfect as you may be

Spend time with people who accept you, who make you smile, who don’t expect you to be who you’re not. We are all different and that’s okay. We shouldn’t have to try to impress people or live up to their expectations. That is not a loving relationship. Those people who are true ‘family’ accept you, flaws and all, just as you do them.

14. Be a cheerleader

Be happy for people. Encourage their growth, celebrate their victories and progress, appreciate their amazing individuality, tell them you’re proud of them. Break out those pom poms and cheer them on openly and enthusiatically.

15. Accept others as they are

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. ~ Brian Tracy

No one wants to have others try to change us. We should also never try to change people. It simply won’t work and odds are it will result in resentment and mistrust. True family accepts each other, offers support and love and leads by example. We can only change ourselves.

As Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

16. Be kind and respectful


Treat every person you meet with kindness and respect, even those who are rude or callous. Be kind to those who are unkind because they often need it most. Show respect and kindness because that’s who you are. When you show respect to others, they will respect you. When you are kind, kindness is given in return. What goes around, comes around.

17. Be open to new relationships

Stop judgement in it’s tracks and realize every person, no matter their appearance, profession, level of education or social status, has a story. And maybe in some way, that person and their experiences may have something amazing to offer you that only they can give.

Embrace, accept and be open to new relationships, for the opportunity to meet someone that just may change your life forever in the most astounding way.

18. Learn to let go

Everything comes to an end. That is the circle of life. The end of a relationship can be upsetting and painful but we need to understand what that relationship gave us, what we learned from it, appreciate the time we had with that person, and let them go. Their part in your story has ended and that’s okay.

19. Give up judging and accepting judgement

No one has the right to judge. Concentrate on and be responsible for yourself and allow others to do the same. No matter what you do, or what someone else does, there will always be someone who thinks differently. We all have to follow our hearts and do what is right for us, despite what others may think.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. ~ Mother Teresa

20. 5 servings a day

Psychologist John Gottman, known for his work in martial stability and relationship analysis, says that showing appreciation for those you love and acknowledging their importance in your life is paramount to maintaining a stable foundation. His studies show that expressions of love and appreciation should occur five times each day. 

To quote Mother Teresa once again:

There is more hunger in this world for love and appreciation than for bread.

Make sure those you love are never hungry but are filled with as much love and appreciation as possible.

Use these 20 tips and watch your relationship garden flourish and bloom.

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You’ve a good heart. Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.


Solid Pewter, Handcrafted Spiral Heart Magnets. Set of 3. $16.95

This is what the ‘spiral’ represents. These fine little gifts will touch the heart and delight the spirit of your friends, loved one, family, teachers, co-workers. A perfect way to show your support and appreciation.

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We acknowledge Marc and Angel, Practical Tips for Productive Living, for the concept of this blog