Hygge part 8 - 8 actionable tips to create harmony in your personal and professional relationships

As the old saying goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, to which might be added, or your colleagues.  Fortunately you can choose how you behave towards them which, in many cases, will influence how they behave towards you.  In fact, if you apply these 8 actionable tips, you’ll be able to create harmonious relationships with most people.

Before we get on to the tips, always remember that harmony starts with you.  Basically, your outward behaviour will reflect how you feel about yourself, so remember to apply these tips to yourself first and then to other people.

Accept people as they are

This is probably the single biggest step in creating harmonious relationships.  You can’t make people change and generally the more you try to force change on them, they more they will resist.  There are three points to take away from this.

1. Genuine change has to come from within, you can’t force genuine change on another person.
2. There’s a difference between being flexible and being a pushover.  You will often find it easier to create harmony if you adapt your own behaviour to bring it into the other person’s comfort zone, but obviously only up to the limits of your own comfort zone.
3. Pick your battles.  In the real world, there are almost certainly going to be times when you need to enforce behavioural change on someone, whether they like it or not.  Before you do, however, take a little time to think about whether or not this is genuinely a necessary change, or just something you’d like to see.  If the former, go ahead, if the latter, it may well be best just to let it drop.

Set reasonable expectations

You may know in your head that nobody’s perfect but it may be harder for you to remember that something which is obvious and straightforward to you may be less obvious and far from straightforward for someone else - and vice versa.

Respect personal space

The idea of personal boundaries varies from culture to culture and person to person, but in most cases it’s there and in most cases, you’ll see if the other person feels like you’re invading their space - if you take the time to look.  The same principle applies in the digital world.  Somebody might be happy to see you on LinkedIn but not on Facebook or they might be fine with getting an email but not want to chat on a messenger system, at least not at that specific time.  If you’re not clear where people’s boundaries are, ask them.

Appreciate the importance of other people’s time

You probably know yourself how unscheduled interruptions can disrupt what you were doing.  That’s not always a bad thing, sometimes you might be quite happy to have a break, it all depends on context so basically think about the right time to approach someone as well as the right way to do so.

Work on clear communication

Number one tip, tell people what you want them to do not what you don’t want them to do.  It’s much simpler and clearer and hence is more likely to be understood, which is the first step towards it being actioned.

Prioritize compassion in your actions

Very few people deliberately go out of their way to annoy other people and arguably the few who do are in the greatest need of compassion.  Just accept that other people have their frailties and do your best to be understanding of them.  If you do, it’s more likely that they will make the effort to be understanding of yours.

Give people (some) freedom of choice

Learn to become an expert in the old magician’s skill of “Choose any card, choose my card.”.  Where possible let people have choice - from a limited range of options all of which are acceptable to you.  That way you’re not forcing your opinions on them, you’re letting them have a say - and you’ve made sure that you’re fine with whatever it is they say.

Make people stakeholders

If you need or want someone else’s help to achieve a goal, see if you can give them a stake in the success of that goal.  Once they have “skin in the game”, they’re likely to be a whole lot more motivated to have a harmonious relationship with you, rather than feeling like they need to “fight their own corner”.  On the flip side of this, if you’re the one who’s being approached for help, then you can push back gently by asking the other person to come up with a feasible plan for you to give them what they want rather than just saying no.  For example, the classic question for dealing with children wanting money is “OK, how can we afford this?”, which pushed back on them to come up with a way for you to buy whatever it is rather than just giving a flat no and having to deal with complaints.

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