When we have relationship problems, our tendency is often to blame it on the other person â€” they’re being frustrating, they won’t listen, they are inconsiderate.
But often it helps to take a look at ourselves, too: what is our contribution to the problem? Are we the best spouse, parent, friend, co-worker we can be? Are we doing anything to contribute to the problem that we can change?
A good relationship takes two, and this week, we’ll focus on our side of the equation. Weâ€™ll focus on being the person that others want to be with.
So the two questions I’ve asked myself are:
- What makes me want to be around someone else?
- What makes me not want to be around someone?
And we’ll explore some answers today, and though of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, it should give you an idea of how to approach this issue.
People We Want to Be Around
What makes me want to be around someone else? If they have several of these qualities, I really enjoy their company â€” and by extension, if we develop these qualities in ourselves, others will probably want to be around us more:
- Content with your self-worth. People who don’t value themselves are constantly down on themselves â€” and if you don’t like yourself, why should someone else? People who value themselves are more confident, more content, less needy, and generally happier. My best friends all know their self-worth, and are fairly content with themselves. I really enjoy their company because of that. If you don’t value yourself at the moment, don’t worry â€” you can work on that. This week, start to look at the good things about yourself, and start to put value in that.
- Secure in themselves. This is related to the item above, but I’ve found that when people are insecure, they become jealous, they aren’t happy for you, they are clingy, and they attack you or get defensive. If you are insecure, that’s OK â€” work on that by recognizing when you’re feeling insecure, and not acting on those feelings. Start acting as if you’re a secure person, and trusting others and yourself, and you’ll actually start to become that person.
- Good listeners. I don’t enjoy a conversation with someone who doesn’t care what I have to say, but just wants to say what they’re going to say. And so I pay attention to this in myself, and when I notice myself doing this, I stop. I value friends who like to listen to me, who make me feel heard and make me feel interesting. So I try to do that in return, when I remember.
- Considerate. Someone who is inconsiderate is someone you don’t want to be around very much. Instead, I really appreciate people who are considerate towards me, and so I try to be that way as well.
- Interesting. Someone who is passionate about life, who pursues things they’re interested in, who isn’t satisfied with what everyone else does … this is an interesting person to be around. This person will not only have interesting stories to share, but will have learned insights about life that you can glean from them. Be interesting â€” pursue learning and passionate interests, try new things, push yourself into scary situations, test yourself, experiment. Start today!
- Supportive. When I make a change, some people react defensively, as if I’m attacking their way of life. And others are thrilled for me, and want to support me however they can. That’s the kind of person I want to be, not the defensive one.
- Positive. Negative people are a drag to be around. I really enjoy the company of someone who has an optimistic (but realistic) view of life. I’m not saying you have to be pure sunshine, but a constantly negative mood will make everyone around you less happy. Instead, monitor your outlook, and ask yourself, “Am I being negative or positive about things right now?” If negative, perhaps reframe things, find something to be grateful for, enjoy the miracle of this moment!
- Willing to share vulnerabilities. I’ve met people who had all the above qualities, but who I never made a real connection with. Why? Because they only shared the good things about themselves. You can’t make an authentic connection unless someone shares their vulnerabilities, their fears and failures and struggles. Be the person who shares this (without being overly negative and insecure, of course). Share what you’re going through, be willing to be honest and vulnerable. And people will share back, and a true connection will be made.
These are the qualities of people I want to be around.
Now ask yourself, “What are the qualities that I value in close friends?” And also, “Do I have those qualities?”
I also think about things that irritate me in others (being inconsiderate, not listening, being negative or insecure, etc.) and see if I do those things. I often do some of those irritating things, so I try to catch myself when I do.
There is a balance between self-acceptance, which I think is important for being contented, and self-improvement, which is a way of being a better person. How can we accept who we are and still want to be a better person?
The answer, for me, lies in seeing the goodness in myself, but always acknowledging there are areas I can work on. That’s a combination of valuing goodness but having the humility to admit you’re not perfect. I am definitely not perfect, but I also love the person I am.
Work this week on being the person others want to be around, and you might see some positive changes in your relationships.