When people think about how to improve a relationship, they typically think about how to decrease negative thoughts, emotions, and interactions. But, increasing positive thoughts, emotions and interactions, is at least as important for improving relationships as decreasing negativity.
The following example relates to couples but this advice could be applied to any close relationship.
To start improving your relationship, give a compliment that expresses either admiration or appreciation for your partner.
Admiration = Something you admire about your partner, or something you admire about how your partner acts in the world or in their relationships.
Appreciation = Appreciation for something your partner contributes to your family or in the world.
If your relationship is struggling, you could try turning the tide by doing this once a day for 7 days. Pick something new to compliment each day, and vary between admiration and appreciation. You could even brainstorm and write down a list of 7 now.
Why This Works
When couples can start to remember what they like and love about each other first, they’re much more likely to be able to later constructively work together on decreasing negative communication. Approaching things in this order is the most effective strategy for how to improve relationships.
Observe what compliments your partner responds to the best (e.g., you might notice that your partner beams when you compliment what a close relationship they have with their Mom).
I’m going to open up comments below so people can contribute their ideas about what compliments they could give their partner that express either admiration or appreciation (please stay on topic in the comments). Hopefully, this will help stimulate ideas for other people, so if you have ideas please chip in. (The comments form only appears on the single post view page and not the /blog/ page or the /tag/ pages. If you don’t see the comment box when you scroll down the page, use this link for the single post view – How to Improve a Relationship). Alternatively, you can communicate your compliment idea on the Facebook page.