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THE Journey of life cannot be undertaken alone. We all depend on each other for a forward move in life. No one has ever succeeded in life without the tangible or intangible help from others.

Positive relationships help us reach our fullest potential, yet building positive relationships can be challenging. Building meaningful relationships with others at all levels involves risk, but the rewards usually outweigh the risks. We all need to develop and cultivate skills for connecting and relating effectively with other people.

How one relates with others could either enhance or sabotage their momentum and success in life. Life is about relationships. Relationship is defined as the state of connectedness with other people. It’s the state of being related by kindred, affinity, or any other alliance. As human beings we find ourselves dealing with different kinds of people in different settings. It is, therefore, imperative that we learn how to live and work with each other.

One has to learn how to live and relate with his wife or husband, children, cousins, uncles, mothers and fathers-in-law. For some of us who are employed, we need to learn the art of positively relating to our colleagues and superiors. Love, trust, respect and communication are key ingredients to building effective relationships. Many good relationships have died because they lacked fires of love, trust, respect and communication and forgiveness.

Farlex’s Dictionary defines love as ‘preeminent kindness or devotion to another; affection, tenderness and a feeling of strong attachment’. Agape, the God kind of love is important in relationships. Agape is selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications. It is unconditional love.

As a matter of fact, it’s love that is kind, tender, merciful and forgiving. It’s spiritual in nature. Only God can fill us with this kind of love. Whenever we put God out of the equation of love in relationships, we will lack the power and motivation to love one another unconditionally. It is therefore important that we endeavor to cultivate this God kind of love in our lives in order to build effective relationships.

Another ingredient that’s key in building meaningful relationships is trust. Trust is usually defined as ‘assured resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of another person’. To trust is to place confidence in, to rely on, to confide in or to repose faith in someone or something.

Therefore to be trustworthy is critical to effective relationships. We must be credible enough in order for people to trust us. Responsibility, honesty, accountability, dependability and faithfulness are qualities found in a trustworthy person. Can we be trusted with time, money, work, secrets, or possessions? It is usually difficult to build stable meaningful relationships with untrustworthy people. Trust is fragile; it must always be guarded with care. We must therefore endeavour to stop things in our behaviour that bankrupt our trustworthiness. Our trust account should always be credited with faithful behaviour.

In addition to love and trust, respect is essential to lasting, meaningful and effective relationships. To respect is to take notice of, to regard with special attention, to regard as worthy of special consideration and to care for. To respect someone, is to consider them as worthy of esteem and therefore regard or treat them with honour. Usually, respect is expressed through words and actions. How is our attitude towards others? How do we speak to people? We must cultivate the habit of being polite when speaking to people. Politeness is the act of showing respect and regard for others. It is therefore important for each one of us to learn the art of courteous expression, by word or deed. Respect is an attitude of developing manners that make one have courteous regards for other people’s feelings in the context of relationships.

We must honour our parents, spouses, friends, colleagues, subordinates and superiors. Respect is actually the most neglected ingredient in many different relationships. Usually whenever people discover each other’s weakness, they also begin to lose respect for each other and ultimately begin to take each other for granted. Lack of respect is a killer of relationships at any level.

The other great ingredient for building relationships is communication or understanding. The free interchange of thoughts, ideas and feelings is essential to meaningful and effective relationships. Communication is the ability to share one’s thoughts, feelings and words in such a way that the other person can understand what is being said. Poor communication is the source of many misunderstandings, misinterpretations and unnecessary conflicts in relationships. Communication is the intercourse by words, and interchange of thoughts or opinions.

We must learn the art of clearly conveying information to one another at different levels and types of relationships.
Bad relationships are usually the result of us refusing to add these ingredients in the cooking pot; consequently the dinner table of our relationships is served with bad food. Bad relationships are hugely stressful, depressing, energy zapping, kill focus, distort reality and minimize productivity. A nation that is relationally connected will always progress. 

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