What makes relationships last?
What makes one person loyal to another?
These questions apply to personal relationships as well as business. They happened to come up with a client on business and as we talked about it, the conversation covered more personal relationships, the way you like business conversations to become.
In my experience, relationships may start with things like common interests, shared histories, common friends, and other things that attract someone to another, but what makes a relationship start doesn’t necessarily make it endure. The same holds in business, where relationships may start based with the ability to make money together, as much as personally, where physical attraction may start things off. But most of us know that eventually you can’t stand some people no matter how much money they bring you or how attractive they once seemed.
What makes relationships last
What I find makes relationships last is your ability to resolve conflicts.
You can take for granted that relationships have conflicts and problems. Have you experienced a relationship without any conflict?
No two people have exactly the same values, so they must differ on something.
If you can resolve conflicts in a way that after the resolution you made things better than before, people won’t be afraid of conflict with you. They’ll know that however bad things get, they’ll get better later. Bones grow stronger when you break them. Muscle grows when you stress it to become stronger than before you stressed it. You may not want to look for conflict, but if it’s inevitable, you may as well make it work for you.
Loyalty kicks in after you’ve resolved some conflicts to improve your relationship compared to before. Imagine someone looks for another relationship to improve on the one with you. However attractive it may seem at first, eventually it will hit a conflict too. The more conflicts you’ve resolved, the better you are at resolving them and the worse the new relationship with seem in comparison. People want to return to people where problems aren’t problems.
Conflict resolution skills
I consider the main skills in resolving conflict
- Listening to others’ issues to understand them
- Making them feel understood
- Supporting them for their beliefs without judgment, even if you don’t agree or support their beliefs (not the distinction between supporting someone versus supporting their beliefs)
- Communicating your issues without blaming
- Maintaining calm
- After all those, regular problem-solving skills
Develop those skills and you’ll be able to make relationships last longer by instilling loyalty.