How To Deepen Relationships
“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” – Esther Perel
One of my deepest regrets comes from reflecting on how I have treated people over the years. I wasn’t
always very kind, and I took for granted others’ love, time, and energy. At the core, I have always cared a
lot about people, but I was selfish, unaware, and often disregarded the impact my actions had on
When I lost my father, I was forced to face the reality that many of us choose to avoid; that life can end
at any moment, and often, it is too soon! I have said it before, and I will continue saying it: Losing my
father was the most difficult experience in my life, but it has also been my greatest blessing. Death puts
into perspective the things that are truly important; the things we can go through an entire lifetime and
Relationships are important! The most successful people on the planet got to where they are because
of the connections they made and the relationships they invested in. The happiest people are the planet
have a community of supportive and loving individuals around them, with whom they can both give and
I have dedicated the last eight years of my life to working on being kinder, more loving, and more
grateful for the people who have come in and out of my life. Here are a few things I have learned that
have helped me to deepen my relationships and to build lasting connections.
1. Smile, make eye contact, and be genuine.
While these things sound relatively simple and small, they make a significant difference when you’re out
at a networking event or trying to connect with someone of interest to you. Smiling is an attractive
quality physically, as well as emotionally and energetically. Eye contact portrays a sense of confidence
and lets people know you’re present and engaged with them.
Genuineness is usually perceived energetically. Be mindful of your energy and presence. Does your
energy feel calm and confident, or are you trying to put on a performance for others? If you’re working
too hard to please others, you will not come across as genuine. Be kind and be you, that will carry you
further than performing ever will.
2. Pay close attention
Move out of your head and into your heart. Stop thinking about “what to say next”, just be present and
listen with an open heart. Non-verbal communication is often much richer and more fundamental than
spoken language. Pay attention to the other person’s body language and listen to what they are saying
(even when they are not actually saying it).
Invest time in learning what really matters to the other person and find ways to let that person know
that you can see how much something is of value to them. Reflect what you heard, get curious and ask
questions, or find ways to offer your help to them get to where they want to go.
3. Communicate consciously
Reflect on the impact of your words and actions. Know your worth and speak your truth but do so with
compassion, and in a way that gives others space to be who they are and to speak their version of the
truth as well. Check in with others, ask them their limits and know your own. Work to get comfortable
with vulnerability and stop avoiding the things that make you uncomfortable. This is scary and can be
hard as hell, but I can say with certainty, it is worth the struggle and is the key to discovering depth in
4. Reflect deeply about yourself
Spend time connecting with yourself and become a master of your emotions. Are you attached to
specific outcomes or do you have specific expectations of what someone will give to you? Get to know
your insecurities and your patterns for dealing with them. Assess old habits and beliefs, take
accountability for your own “stuff”, learn to let some things go, and make a commitment to continue
learning more about yourself for the rest of your life.
(Some examples may include: What is your attachment style, what is your Myer-Briggs Personality type, and what are your love languages? – there are endless resources to understand yourself on a deeper level, you just have to find the ones that feel like a fit for you).
Notice what you are feeling as someone is speaking to you. Our own emotions are a valuable source of
information and they can be a helpful guide to asking more meaningful questions or gauging whether
this is someone you want to invest more of your own energy into.
5. Actively love
One of my favourite quotes is, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But
people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
Build people up, offer to help, compliment others, be kind to everyone, schedule quality time with the
people who are important to you, and communicate honestly about how you feel about others (e.g. why
you value the person).
6. Show your appreciation
People don’t owe you anything. Even if you do not get what you want from others (expectations!!!!),
express appreciation for their consideration or efforts anyway. Train yourself to notice the little things,
and to appreciate the small details that show you someone cares about you. Do this, and you will find
that you will rarely be disappointed in others because it relieves the pressure of someone unknowingly
failing to meet your expectations.
Write thank you cards, send follow up emails, pick up the phone and call someone to say thank you, take
someone for lunch, or offer a lending hand in return. Sometimes the simplest things have the greatest
Katrina Shaw, RPsych.