To truly enjoy life and live as the masterpiece God created you to be, your relationships need to thrive. Too often we are content to allow our relationships to simply survive, yet we secretly desire them to be more. And we should, they should add value to our lives and we should add values to those we have relationships with. In other words our relationships should thrive!
1. Know Their Interest
My first day of kindergarten set the tone for my entire school career. At the end of recess—the one thing I excelled at throughout my elementary years—I talked a neighbor friend into giving me a push in a red wagon, indoors. As I steered the wagon toward the open door of the classroom, the teacher and principal were standing outside the door having a conversation. I simply gave a quick wave and flew on by. Growing up in a small rural community where everyone knew everyone, my mom was quickly informed.
You have your own stories of fun and trouble, be it in kindergarten, high school, or college. But with all the required studies and electives, the one class never offered is People Skills 101, a necessary element on your Life Palette. Having great people skills begins with understanding the primary interest of everyone is, well, themselves. Talking to someone about the thing they are interested in the most, themselves, will take your people skills to a new level.
2. Ask Questions
A few years ago my wife Kathy and I were at a gathering of extended family, most of whom we really didn’t know all that well. Throughout the evening, we simply asked everyone we met a few questions about their lives and each shared very willingly. After the event, we talked about how much we’d learned about everyone: their jobs and families to their best and worst life experiences. Then Kathy asked me something that made us realize the importance of developing people skills. “Did anyone ask you anything about your life?” I thought for a moment and realized not one person had asked a single question of me. She said the same was true of her. We knew a lot about them, but they knew nothing about us.
While we are introverts and perfectly fine not talking about ourselves, we were amazed how, with a few simple questions, people who didn’t know us (or get to know us) were willing to share so much about their lives. Why? We asked them about their primary interest in life: themselves. As you learn to do this, people will be drawn to you, and you will be able to develop relationships on your Life Palette that God will use to paint your masterpiece.
3. Begin With Your Primary Relationships
The color wheel is a must-have tool for an artist. On it, there is what’s known as the “triad” of colors. The most important triad is the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Every other color can be mixed from the primaries. While focusing on relationships on your Life Palette, think in terms of a relational color wheel. What are the primary relationships in your life? Family? Close friends? God? Evaluating how you speak and how you serve, this is where you want to begin—with the relationships foremost in your life.
4. Develop Your Secondary And Intermediate Relationships
As an artist moves beyond painting with the primary colors, it’s important to continue to use the triad on the color wheel to keep color harmony. The next triad on the wheel is called the secondary color scheme. These are the colors mixed from the primaries: green, orange, and violet. What are the secondary relationships in your life? Neighbors? Coworkers? Extended Family? Then consider the third level on the color wheel, the triad known as the intermediate colors. They consist of yellow green, red orange, blue violet and blue green, yellow orange and red violet. What relationships are your intermediate ones? The person you see where you get your coffee in the morning? The cashier at the grocery store? The stylist who cuts your hair? On your Life Palette, think in terms of these three triads: primary, secondary, and intermediate.
When you are successful with primary relationships, you automatically act and speak better with your secondary and intermediate relationships. The canvas of your life will begin to be full of the colors of life . . . and others will be attracted to you. You will no longer simply be content to “get by” in your relationships, to simply survive, you will live in relationships that thrive and that is after all God’s design.