“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh? asked Piglet. Even longer, answered Pooh.” – A.A.Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Experience Better Relationships

by Chris Nelson-Jeffers

Hello Achiever!

“No man is an island,” wrote British clergyman John Donne in 1624*.

Human beings are inherently social animals. That is to say, part of our humanity is our drive to seek the companionship of others, including building and maintaining intimate or close social relationships with them.

With a few exceptions, we do not thrive in isolation. Nearly everything we do involves interaction with others.

The shipwrecked Robinson Crusoe quickly learned to survive alone on his deserted island, but his life and state of affairs was vastly improved when he was joined by Friday.

Hermits and mountain men and others who choose to live alone will almost always find and experience alternative emotional companionship – perhaps a dog who has happened by and stayed, or with their horse or other pack animal.

Greater success in life will be achieved through peaceful, harmonious, co-operative effort with others. While one may be able to survive entirely through their own efforts, life will unquestionably be better and easier in friendly proximity to others.

Friendly, Harmonious Cooperation

In 1958 economist Leonard E Read wrote an essay titled “I, Pencil”. In it Read described how the manufacture of something as simple as a lead pencil, requires the voluntary, self-interested actions of countless other people.

“It is … astounding that the pencil was ever produced. None of the thousands of people involved in producing pencils do so because he or she wants a pencil – each conducts his part in the production of pencils we want as a way to get the goods and services they want through voluntary economic exchange.

“No one sits in a central office giving orders to these thousands of people. No military or secret police are required to enforce production orders that were not needed to be given. These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, and may even hate each other – yet none of these differences prevent them from effectively cooperating to produce a pencil.”  – Leonard E. Read

The People You Spend Time With

Motivational speaker and writer John Rohn said, “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

This statement speaks to the influence other people will have on your life.

Because of the benefits of connecting, cooperating, and developing harmonious relationships with others, and because of the influence people around you will have on your life, achievements, and happiness, it should be apparent that you need to be careful and deliberate about the people you surround yourself with.

For example, if the people around you have a negative attitude, mock or discourage your ideas with all of the reasons they “won’t” work, and generally leave you feeling bad about yourself and your plans, it’s time to make and associate with better friends.

Friendship vs. Association

The word “friends” tends to get thrown around quite a lot. Some people include everyone they know or meet as part of their circle of “friends”.  Other people assign that special designation only to perhaps one or two people they know.

By definition, a friend is a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts, and who usually has a similar regard for you. A friend is someone with whom you are comfortable and are relaxed enough be who you are when you are with them.

Friendships are usually based on circumstance – for example someone you are now or have been previously associated with through some common group, school class, employment, religious affiliation, interest, or hobby, and have felt or developed a particular ongoing closeness, trust, and esteem.

Acquaintances, colleagues, and associates are the majority of the people who will typically make up your social network. These may include one or more people you consider friends, but for the most part your interaction with acquaintances and associates will be on a very limited basis. 

A Happy and Productive Life

The quality of your relationships – romantic, family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and coworkers, clients, employers, and employees – will have a profound and lasting effect on your happiness and the achievement of your goals.

At the very least it is to your advantage to develop and cultivate a pleasing, agreeable personality that will draw people to you and inspire their willing cooperation.

You can’t control other people – you can only control your own responses to them.

People are most motivated by WIIFM – or, “What’s In It For Me?”

Now, WIIFM can be a gain – a profit – or it can be an avoidance, usually either of a loss, or of pain – being hurt. WIIFM can be an object, financial, or it can be entirely emotional. It can be as simple as a feeling of personal self-satisfaction.

The Best Way To Have Friends Is To Be One

Do you feel that you aren’t being supportive enough of your friends or other relationships?

Check In

Do you have friends that you’ve drifted away from, or haven’t heard from in a while?

It happens. People change jobs. People move. The patterns of their lives change, and you may not run into them with the same frequency as in the past – or at all.

Don’t be afraid to message, text, or call your friends from time to time just to check in. Maybe all they needed was a reminder, or the indication that you still care. The longer it’s been since you’ve touched base, the harder it becomes to do. Just do it!

Just Listen

People need to just vent every now and then, preferably to a friend they know and trust. It’s a great opportunity to be the kind of friend you want to have.

It’s a common human characteristic that we will listen with intense interest to those who talk to us – and who listen – about those things which are closest to our own hearts.

The Greek slave and Stoic Epictetus is credited with observing “Nature has given to men one tongue, but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

Think about the kind of people you most enjoy being around.  Who are the least?

If you think about it, you’ll realize that the people you enjoy being around the most – regardless of the type or relationship you have with them – are the people who listen to you the most.

I’m sure that at some point you’ve been in the company of someone who can do nothing but talk endlessly – usually about themselves. How long was it before you started making excuses to avoid being around them?

The best way to further a relationship – any relationship, from spouse to client – is to listen.

In fact, it is recognized that the best conversationalists are not blabbermouth know-it-alls, but are those who cultivate the art of asking questions about the other person and their interests, and listening to the answers.

When the other person begins to feel heard and understood, they will then be more open to listen when the focus of conversation switches to you – or to the solution you are offering for their problems.

Now, as a salesperson or professional you can’t just spend all day listening to your client’s myriad problems. At some point you need to steer the conversation back to the point of your call or visit – which if you’ve been listening carefully to their problems, should be providing the answer they’ve been looking for!

Here are some guidelines to consider in developing better relationships in your life:

Know yourself – If you’re clear about your principles and values, likes and dislikes, the easier and more likely it’s going to be that you will attract the sort of forward-looking, positive-thinking people into your life with whom you will have and can enjoy meaningful and productive relationships.

Be yourself – Don’t put on airs or try to act and be someone you’re not. On the other hand, be sure to learn and practice good manners and courtesy. Remember, a true lady or gentleman is someone who always does their best to make everyone around them feel as comfortable as possible.

Do what you enjoy – To meet more like-minded people, live your life as much as possible doing the things you like to do. Go to classes and become involved in groups or clubs of people who share your interests and passions.

Not all the acquaintances you make are going to end up being the sort of “best friend” that you consider family. Some people you’ll just do a book club or volunteer activity with, some you’ll enjoy social activities with, and some will be the people you work with.

A few may fall into the category of best friend and trusted confidante you can call and hang out with.

You can – and will – have many different kinds of relationships in your life.

The main thing is, good friends will hold you accountable to your principles, will cheer you on when you’re down, and will really believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

Are Your Expectations Realistic?

One big reason people suffer poor relationships is the simple fact of the unrealistic expectations they have with regards to that relationship.

Think of a relationship in your life that isn’t really going the way that you’d like.

Why is that? What is it that you are expecting – or hoping for – that isn’t happening?

Perhaps you’re expecting someone to be there at your beck and call all of the time. Perhaps you’re disappointed that they just don’t seem to “get you” and aren’t responding to you in the way that you want.  Maybe they don’t share your same interests.  Maybe they are being too demanding of YOUR time and attention.

Whatever it is, try to identify where your expectations of a relationship are not being met in reality.

This applies to any type of relationship. What you DO about it will depend on what kind of relationship it is.  For example, complications in an employer/employee relationship will need to be approached and handled differently than a romantic relationship or marriage.

Recognize patterns that signal unrealistic expectations – Whenever you start feeling stressed about a situation or upcoming event, find yourself being overly critical and demanding of yourself or others, or becoming out-of-control angry when something goes wrong – consider that your expectations might be a cause or contributor to your problems.

Having a vision of what you want is important, however you need to have a perspective on it that will enable you to know what you can control, and what you can’t … and to let go of what you can’t.

Implement S.M.A.R.T. goal setting – SMART stands for setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Part of the goal-setting process is to avoid setting goals that are unattainable, at least for the present.

You absolutely should have a definite major goal or objective for your life, and that objective should be something that is at least a little beyond your immediate grasp.

With SMART goals, you want to build a momentum of success. That’s why we say to keep it real, but keep on striving. Step by step, what is unattainable today may through your efforts be attainable tomorrow, as more and better tools and resources become available to you.

As mega-investor and businessman Warren Buffet states, “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars, I look round for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

Win or lose, remember you can learn from any situation.

You can’t control the weather, the environment, or other people. You have absolute control over just one thing – your thoughts, and your actions. Only you can control you – but you must take charge of yourself.

Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Improving relationships is no easy task. WIIFM is the basis for all relationships. Find out what the other person wants or needs, figure out what you can do to help them get it – and go the extra mile to see that they do. Not only will this improve your relationship, but it will go a long way toward keeping the relationship strong into the future.

That’s it for now. Talk to you again soon …

To your success,

“The success and prosperity guy”


BONUS: Download this letter as a PDF:  https://www.theprosperityproject.com/download/ktp-0007f

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* “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the man; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Seuerall Steps in my Sicknes – Meditation XVII