Bob Burchfield, system director for Behavioral Services at Baptist Health
A healthy relationship is one where each person gives and receives equally. There is a mutual trust and there isn’t a shift of balance of power and control by one over the other. Effective communication is a key ingredient in a healthy relationship.
One of the first things we need to do is listen effectively. Be “all the way there” when you’re listening. Don’t be distracted by other things. Let the other person know that for these moments, nothing else is as important as what I’m doing right here, right now, with you.
Another thing is understanding. We won’t always see eye-to-eye on things, and a good, robust discussion about various things is good; however, we shouldn’t be so dismissive of our truest friends whenever they pose a thought or position that we don’t agree with. We can value our differences without de-valuing our friend. Respecting each other means that we can respect each other’s differences.
If we’re going to communicate effectively, we have to be honest. If you can’t be completely honest with your most intimate, close friend, who can you be honest with?
Another ingredient is maintaining confidentiality. In a time when social media offers up real-time information on so many of our friends, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Too many times I’ve had people come to me and share that they’ve been hurt by someone close to them because they shared private information with their Facebook friends. It may have been a harmless gesture, but remember, other people’s private thoughts don’t belong to you. If they want it shared, they should be able to share it. Again, we’re probably not meaning to breach their trust or be malicious at all, but we should take care to ensure we’re not overstepping our place when we post things.
One last thing…it’s important to tackle tough problems early and head on. Don’t let differences or hurt feelings linger too long. With that said, don’t make everything a big deal. Be just as quick to dismiss little, trivial things; after all, this person is your best friend and close friend for a reason. Don’t look to take things the wrong way or look for reasons to get your feelings hurt. Most people aren’t getting up in the morning thinking, “How can I disrupt my best friend’s life today.”