COVID-19 stress is everywhere and could be part of the reason why there’s such a rash of home and business break-ins, bullying, and lateral violence in schools and the workplace. There was even recent news that pandemic stress has caused an increase in marriage and relationship breakups. For sure, the impact of COVID-19 has been sweeping its damage across all sectors of society including youth, parents, and employees.

However, one thing we’ve all learned from this lengthy ordeal is that relationships are critical to personal, family, career, and business success. Relationships bring us comfort, they can help us to be successful at school, at work, and at play. Relationships bring friends into our world and provide help in trying times. Relationships prevent us from feeling alone and abandoned. In other words, having people in our lives is vital to our mental and emotional wellbeing.

So, what can individuals (both adults and children) do to ensure that relationship building remains top of mind? The following tactics will help you to build a sound foundation that will support you through trying times.

Build a friend one at a time – Be friendly, focus on one individual and develop an honest, solid friendship. Share your thoughts, ask probing questions, find common ground, and/or help them through a tough time without asking for anything in return. Provide genuine compliments when appropriate.  Individuals with whom you develop an honest relationship will invite others to join your group and will refer you to others.

Be positive – Positive people attract other positive people. Tell people about yourself and your successes without being a braggart. Pay attention to the whole person and look for positive comments that you can comment on and/or share experiences. Avoid being a critic and instead accept the opinions of others gracefully.

Be genuine – There is nothing that will destroy a relationship more quickly than comments and/or behaviours that are not genuine. Therefore, be confident but don’t try to show off. Instead, be attentive to what others say and do, show genuine interest and attention to what is being said. Then, in order to garner trust, do what you say you will do.

Avoid an argument – Everyone has ideas but some people are adamant their view is the right one. Be prepared to state your case, engage in light debate but avoid arguments at all cost. Accept that people have ideas different than you and that one situation doesn’t mean developing a friendship isn’t worthwhile.  Be accepting where appropriate to build your friendship network.

Be open-minded – Avoid passing judgment about another person based on one character trait including personal comments, choice of dress and deportment, and/or personal likes and dislikes. Avoid forming an opinion until you know more about the person. Focus on understanding what makes the person tick. This makes you more approachable and will attract other open-minded people.

Be respectful – Most parents taught their children the regular please and thank you habits and these two graces are also keys to developing relationships whether at work and/or at play. At the same time, be respectful of another person’s feelings, avoid negative body language such as rolling your eyes when you don’t like someone’s ideas. Instead, be inquisitive and be open to helping.

No matter which way we turn, relationships are important to personal happiness and sometimes to our very survival. In spite of COVID-19 and the stresses it causes, it’s important to continue our efforts to build positive relationships and to deal with negative relationships as best as we can and as soon as we can.

Article contributed by Barbara Bowes [Legacy Bowes Group]