11 Little Ways To Improve Your Relationships

by Carina Wolff

No one relationship is completely perfect, but if you find that you have a lot of conflict in your life, it might be time to evaluate your own behaviors. You don't have to throw away your whole idea of friendship to see some better results; you can instead focus on little ways to improve your relationships. Whether you're not getting a long with your significant other, you keep fighting with your best friend, or your parents are getting on your nerves, it can help to know those simple tips that help you get along with others.

"People need relationships to truly flourish," says relationship expert and certified counselor Carl Sheperis, Program Dean for the College of Social Sciences at University of Phoenix, over email. "Researchers have shown that our physical health is tied to the presence and quality of significant relationships. Good relationships are an essential part of our emotional wellbeing. Having good relationships facilitates a strong sense of foundation, trust, security, understanding, and the ability to give and receive love."

Whether you're looking to improve your existing relationships or cultivate some new ones, consider these 11 little ways to improve your relationships with others. A little self-improvement never hurt!

1. Increase Your Positive Interactions

"Try to track your number of positive versus negative interactions in your relationships," says Sheperis. "Behavioral research shows that people respond better to positive interactions." Focus on the good qualities about the person and try to do things that evoke these qualities.

2. Show Affection

Even if you're not the most touchy-feely person, it's important to show affection, whether it be physical or through your words. Affection can help release feel-good hormones, can make you appear more trustworthy, and can improve relationship satisfaction, according to multiple studies.

3. Pick Your Battles

No one is perfect, and some small quirks you're going to have to ignore. "Not everything is important enough to go to battle over," says Sheperis. "Figure out what you can let go of in the day-to-day interactions in your relationships. Ask yourself, 'Is this a battle that I have to fight?' 'What are the consequences of taking this stand?'"

4. Become Aware Of Your Needs

"Knowing yourself is the first step in being able to have a successful relationship," says Sheperis. "Spend time getting to know your needs in a relationship and then figure out how to let others know about those needs. If you are not able to convey your needs, then you are likely to repeat old patterns."

5. Prioritize Your Time

"There are a lot of demands on our time, and so many things seem important in life," says Sheperis. "One of the easiest things to let go of in a relationship is time. Be sure to place a priority on your time together and take initiative to demonstrate that commitment to your significant others."

6. Be A Good Listener

"Be the best listener you can be," says psychologist Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. over email. "Most of us want to be heard, not fixed or changed." Being a poor listener is associated with poorer social and emotional sensitivity, according to a study from Louisiana State, so prioritize really paying attention to what other people are saying.

7. Stay Off Your Phone

You definitely won't be able to be a good listener if you're on your phone. Be present in your conversations, and leave your Instagram feed for later. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that heavy social media use is tied to more relationship unhappiness.

8. Don't Wait For Them To Reach Out

Relationships aren't about keeping tabs. "If you want to see a friend who hasn’t been in touch for a while, call them and connect," says Raymond. "Let your spontaneous wish for connection be the motivator rather than your calculated thoughts about who needs to go first or whose turn it is."

9. Be Authentic

It's the same age-old advice: Be yourself. "Never fake or pretend," says Raymond. "If you don’t like something or don’t want to do something, be open and honest — it allows the other person to do the same."

10. Do A New Activity

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples who participated in new and exciting activities together reported having higher relationship satisfaction. Even if you're not dating, doing a unique activity with someone else can help create a bonding moment in your relationship.

11. Practice Self-Care

Everyone functions better when they eat well, exercise, and get good sleep, so if you want to feel your best so you can think your clearest when dealing with others, take care of yourself first. "Take responsibility for your own self-care so that the people you are connected to aren’t burdened with looking after you on a regular basis," says Raymond.

Just like anything, relationships take practice as well as trial and error, but putting in an effort is always a good start.

Images: Pixabay (12); Bustle