“Can you hear me now? Good….wait, are you still there?”

Which relationships do you put an effort into? What do you expect from others?

These are questions you should think about when evaluating people in your life. Whether you classify them as close, casual, or professional doesn’t matter (unless they broke your Nintendo Gameboy when you were nine, in which case they’re dead to you). It’s common that people lose touch and are closer to some more than others – but did you ever think about why this happens? Because with a little extra you can keep those relationships that fade to black and reap some potentially great benefits.

What I propose is a Machiavellian-like approach to acquiring, maintaining, and increasing personal relationships with others. In the professional world, this is simply networking on a less intense level. Too often, I see people who are Johnny-on-the-spot with returning phone calls and emails at work but when it comes to family or friends, they’re as scarce as a sober Bostonian on Saint Patty’s Day. Why? With their job it’s “important” and they get paid to do it….but why not put forth the same effort in your personal life with people that matter?

Step 1: Acquiring Relationships

Whether you’re looking for new pals to hang out with or a mentor to guide personal goals, this can be a tough one. Picture moving to a new town or wanting to make your circle of friends larger.

Your main obstacle will be that people like comfort and don’t make efforts to break out of their circles.

It’s the same as selling a product in that you’re gonna need to spark enough interest in them that they’ll wanna shoot the breeze with you later. This is where it’s important to focus entirely on the other person. Ask questions. Have a sincere interest in their interests. I hate to say this but in today’s social media centered world that’s fueled by attention-deficit disorder, the level of self-absorption for most people is at an all-time high.

Step 2: Maintaining Communication

Once you’ve got that seed in the ground, you’re gonna need to keep watering it if you want the plant to flourish. This is where a lot of people fail and potential (or even existing) relationships turn into lost encounters.

 Constant communication is key to any good relationship.

It’s understandable that people get overwhelmed by busy lifestyles: long hours at the office, kids(!!!), a boatload of extracurriculars, or just being that guy that has an obsession with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But whether people forget or just don’t realize it, it’s important to maintain regular contact with people – you can’t expect them to call, text, or email you all the time when you’re not reciprocating the effort.

Just a few examples/suggestions:

  • Call your parents and siblings every week or two (you should be doing this anyway)
  • Call or email those best friends from college at least a few times a year to catch up
  • Don’t get in touch with someone when it’s convenient for you. Make time. Because often it’s never “convenient”, things fall to the wayside, and you lose touch.

Step 3: Increasing Bonds

“The only way to have friends is to be one” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the part that depends more on what you want out of the people in your life. You’ll know better if you want intellectual challenges, emotional support, or just some fun times.

¬†Just remember it’s a two-way street.

Other people are there to be used as resources but you know what? So are you. Whether you’re a good source of advice, a badass basketball player, or a helluva Scotch drinker, you have a contribution to make as well. The second you start relying on others but flake on them is when you start weakening your bond with them. Selflessness, compassion, integrity. Some good guidelines to live by.

…what’s in it for you

If you can follow these three simple steps, you can make yourself ten times happier and take on any obstacle that comes your way. Stress, depression, and anxiety become small puddles to step over when you have reliable people in your life. Even if you don’t have any problems, having a myriad of great relationships can open doors to spectacular things. Careers, a family, whatever you’ve been hoping for since you were a starry-eyed kid.

We’re here on this earth to enjoy each other and spread good vibes.