• Dr. E Farrell

Five things you can do to improve your relationships now:

Updated: Jul 10


When individuals seek counseling, regardless of the particular struggle they are facing, there are almost always other people involved. Most of us don't live completely isolated from the world. Our relationships are affected by our mental states. Counseling can help identify patterns and break unhelpful ways of thinking and acting. It can also provide tools to help improve communication and build understanding in relationships. It takes time to break patterns of behavior that can develop over years, especially if these patterns develop as a result of past disappointment or trauma, but we can start to make some changes that can improve relationships right away.

First, learn how to really listen to the other person. Listen non-judgmentally.

The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers founder of the "person centered approach" to understanding personality, proposed that all individuals have a concept of the person they should be, what he called the “ideal self”. Given the right environment they will grow toward that “ideal self”. In the wrong environment, that "ideal" is something that they see as continually out of reach.

You cannot force another person to change but many people try to. The more you push the more they resist. You might even be able to compel them to change, for you, for someone else, or for a secondary gain (such avoiding a breakup) but the truth is, lasting change only comes from internal transformation.

The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers founder of the "person centered approach" to understanding personality, proposed that all individuals have a concept of the person they should be, what he called the “ideal self”. Given the right environment they will grow toward that “ideal self”. In the wrong environment, that "ideal" is something that they see as continually out of reach.


When a individual doesn't feel valued by others they tend to devalue themselves as well. They can become defensive and resistant to change. That does not mean that you have to ignore or excuse negative behaviors, but only that you try to listen and understand their perspective.



Rogers believed that most people know what they need to change and can take the first steps to change when they feel validated . When a person feels valued they are more likely to accept the possibility of change without being pressured.






Don’t spend the time that the other person is speaking forming your next response: Being a good listener means giving the other person your full attention. If you’re thinking of what you’re going to say next, you’re not really listening. With those we are close to we often feel like we know what they are thinking (mind reading) or what they are going to say next. We might even discount their words because we are thinking about their motivations. When we are questioning their motivations rather than focusing on the problem, we shut the door on healthy communication.

Reflect! Put into words your understanding of what the other person is saying. This shows that you were paying attention and can reveal either an understanding or misunderstanding of what they were trying to communicate.


Not every statement requires a response. Learn to be comfortable with silence. Silence gives power to words, often more effectively than yelling. It can encourage the other person to continue talking or go deeper. It implies that what they said matters even if you do not agree. It can also show the other person the power of any hurtful things they may have said, more effectively than resorting to a counter attack with more hurtful words.


Speak using “I” statements. Statements prefaced by "You" tend to be confrontational and critical. For example, “You don't care" is more confrontational than

“I feel as if you don't care". You statements tend to increase defensiveness. I statements are more effective at keeping lines of communication open.

Share power. This doesn’t require much explanation. A healthy relationship involves sharing power. People who continually demand their way usually end up in frequent unsuccessful relationships.

#relationships #communication #Relationships #Communication

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