Building deep and meaningful relationships

Anything you want to do in life is going to require help from other people. You simply cannot do it all on your own. You can do your best to minimise the involvement of others but you cannot remove them entirely. In many cases, your interaction with others will merely be a quick touchpoint where you have a specific need and they can meet that need. Of course, in some cases, it will be the other way around and you are the one that can help meet the other person’s needs. In these encounters, gratitude and manners will go a long way but you don’t need to build deep and meaningful relationships.

There will be some people in your life whose cooperation you are going to need regularly. Manners and gratitude will go a long way but for somebody to assist you regularly, it takes more than that. There must be a benefit for them in helping. Take work as one of the most basic examples of this type of relationship. The employer needs work done and the employee needs a paycheck so, the employer takes care of the employee’s need for a paycheck in exchange for the employee completing the desired work. That is pretty simple to understand but how deep and meaningful are these relationships? As they are soley focused on both parties meeting a specific need, they are not particularly deep or meaningful.

Building deep and meaningful relationships

There is nothing wrong with such employer-employee relationships, but they are not going to achieve the level of depth that produces meaningful relationships as long as they are solely an exchange of money and labour. To create depth and meaning in a relationship requires a special ingredient – empathy. Empathy arises when you have a genuine concern for the other person. You put yourself in their shoes to see how they experience life. You strive to understand things from their perspective. When you do this, you show them that you care and you want a deep and meaningful relationship. You cannot fake it. You can only achieve a deep and meaningful relationship if you genuinely want on and are willing to put the effort in.

So how do you put that empathy into action?

Seek first to understand

One of the most popular self-help books of all time is Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ’. One of the core habits discussed in the book is ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood'. It is a fantastic principle and it is one that esteemed psychologist Alfred Adler was advising before Covey was even born. Both men tell us that in building a relationship, you must first seek to understand the other person and their wants and needs. When you do so, you can identify ways where you can be of value to them and help them along the way. These could range from directly helping them to pointing them in the direction of a person or resource that can help them e.g. it could be as simple as recommending a book.

When you get to genuinely help others (not forcing your idea of help on them) you will experience your sense of worth. You reinforce the fact that you have value to offer to other people and you are reassured that you are a person of worth. This is important for your happiness and it is one of the core reasons why deep and meaningful relationships are so important in life.

Another key benefit of seeking to understand and help others is that it helps to build trust. There is no quick and easy way to build trust. You have to put in the work and demonstrate your trustworthiness. While you cannot guarantee that the trust will be mutual; in most cases, the example you provide will be returned i.e. when you show someone that you won’t let them down, they will usually be keen to avoid letting you down either.

The key lies in what you give

For too long in my life., I valued my relationships based on what I was getting out of them but that only led to shallow relationships without depth or meaning. The real magic in a relationship comes from what you give. When another person allows you to make a positive contribution to their life, that is a beautiful gift. While they experience the favour you do for them, you get to experience your worth and value as you assist them That is also why you should be open to receiving sincere help from others too i.e. when you do, you are giving them the gift of experiencing their worth and value.

Won’t people take advantage of me?

Yes, if you choose the path of empathy, seeking to help others first, and building deep and meaningful relationships; there will be times when somebody takes advantage of you. That is their problem, not yours. Your task when that arises is to either sever the relationship or set a clear boundary that communicates to them that there is a line you will not let them cross. At the end of the day, it is their loss, not yours. Do not let these few people dictate your view of the many who are both receptive and reciprocal of your assistance.

So, if you want to build deep and meaningful relationships, try empathy, try understanding the other person and their wants and needs, and give the best of yourself.

Values Based Living

Building deep and meaningful relationships is a values driven experience.


Discover, define and prioritise your values so that you can base your decsions on what is important to you and live your life on your terms with Values Based Living'.


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