The Secrets to Better Relationships

Interpersonal relationships can be complicated and their success turns on a number of factors. We provide practical tips and advice to improve your relationships with family, friends and co-workers. 

By Lynell Ross, Certified Health and Wellness Coach

Can you think of anything in your life that brings your more joy or frustration than your relationships? We spend large amounts of time learning about everything from our academic pursuits, to business, to our hobbies and interests, but not much time at all learning about how to make our relationships better. In this three-part series we will look at the three keys to improving relationships at home and at work. 
Why are so many of our relationships troubled? What causes us to isolate or remain in conflict?  First, at the heart of our relationship to others lies our relationship to ourselves. Uncovering our emotional and physical needs opens to doorway to understand others and healing relationships. 

The second key depends on your ability to communicate with those around you. According to well-known success coach and author Brian Tracy, “Your ability to communicate determines 85% of your success in business and in your personal life.” Yet we pay very little attention to how to improve this very important part of our life.  

The third area we examine helps us understand our emotions, and uncovers tools to help us deal with people in our lives who may be difficult or challenging for us. When we understand ourselves, our thinking, our patterns of behavior and our unconscious beliefs, we will be less reactive and judgmental of others, and we can set boundaries around what is acceptable to us, paving the way for smoother relationships and happier lives. 

Understanding Our Needs

When you begin to understand our basic human needs, you will begin to understand why you get upset at people, at situations and with yourself. Read through the list of needs below and consider where you may be lacking in getting your needs met. 


  • Rest: Sleep, relaxation, play, ease, gratitude, mourning, balance 

  • Empathy: Respect, understanding, support, connection, love, Self-esteem, confidence

  • Belonging: community, to be heard, appreciated, cooperation, love, friendship

  • Safety: justice, fairness, order, security, consideration 

  • Physical needs: Food, water, air, shelter, health, sensory stimulation 

  • Work: Contribution, responsibility, productivity, exercise, reliability, competency  

  • Honesty: authenticity, integrity, clarity, openness, self-expression 

  • Autonomy: choice, control, power, self-efficacy, competition, independence 

  • Challenge: Adventure, Discovery, play, learning, courage, risk, exploration 

  • Transcendence: Presence, meaning, purpose, beauty, order, creativity, individuality, wholeness, flow- Self-Actualization- morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of what it.  



Understanding our needs is necessary for self-awareness. Awareness is the practice of bringing present moment attention to thought, emotion, body and behavior.


  • Where are you not getting your needs met? Understanding your needs is the doorway to understanding your reaction to others. 

  • Where are you feeling like a victim? Take 100% Responsibility for your Life. Taking responsibility for ourselves is where our power lies, not in blaming others. We are not entitled to anything. The only person responsible for your quality of life is you. 

  • We have been conditioned to blame others, but that takes away our power. If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to take 100% responsibility for your life by giving up your victim role and excuses. You have the power to change your circumstances. You get to choose! If something doesn’t turn out the way you want, then you have the power to try again. 

  • You have the power to respond in any way you want by regaining control of your thoughts, your dreams and your behavior. 

  • If you want to be happy, everything you think, say and do needs to become intentional and aligned with your purpose, your values and your goals. 

  • You have control over three things in your life-the thoughts you think, the images you visualize and the actions you take which means your behavior. If you don’t like what you are producing or experiencing, you have to change your responses. 

  • Everything you experience today is the result of choices you have made in the past. You may have been dealt a bad hand in life. You may have been born into poverty, or to alcoholic or drug addicted parents, or even been neglected or abandoned. However, you can still take your power back and change your life by: 

  • Changing your negative thoughts to positive ones. 

  • Changing the way you deal what has happened in the past. We must acknowledge what happened before we can move forward.  

  • Changing what you dream about – believe you can have what you want 

  • Changing your habits- develop healthy habits and happy thinking 

  • Changing what you read, watch or TV or the internet 

  • Changing your friends- You become like the 5 people you hang around most 

  • Change how you talk- Be respectful of yourself and others  

  • Give up complaining- every time you catch yourself, find something to be grateful for 

  • Ask for help, read a personal development book, take a class, get a coach or therapist 


If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten. 

The twelve-step program, promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous, defines insanity as “continuing the same behavior and expecting a different result.” The day you change your responses is the day your life will begin to get better. Here is an action step you can take to begin to improve your self-awareness.
Purchase a journal for the specific purpose of learning more about yourself. Choose a time of day where you can go to a quiet place and contemplate and write the answers to the following questions: 


  • What kinds of things upset me? Begin to notice patterns in your life as you go through your days. 

  • Do I have any habits or patterns that I repeat when I am feeling stressed? 

  • Do I have a habit of worrying, and if so, what reoccurring thoughts do I have? 

  • When am I happiest? 

  • What do I love to do? 

  • What are my strengths? 

  • What kind of person do I want to be? 

  • Do I live in integrity with my beliefs? 

Getting in touch with yourself and your feelings may take time if you are a person who spends time taking care of other people, or if you are outwardly focused. Becoming self-aware takes time, and it isn’t something most of us are taught. 

You can train yourself to focus your attention so you are aware of what you are thinking and feeling. Ask yourself questions as you go through your day, and then journal for a few minutes in the evening. What kind of day did you have? What lessons did you learn? What are you grateful for? These are all questions to start you on your path of self-awareness. Getting to know yourself, improve your self-esteem and like yourself, is vital to all your relationships. 

You will only treat others as kindly as you treat yourself. If you are a giver, and are not thinking about your own needs, eventually you may burn out and not be able to keep giving. If you aren’t as giving, and your relationships are suffering in certain areas, improving your relationship with yourself and understanding where you have been hurt, or may have developed unhelpful thinking patterns will help you connect with people on a deeper level. Your whole life and all your relationships will improve when you learn more about yourself and others.  

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