By Freddy Jackson Brown, Duncan Gillard, Steven C. Hayes

Part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Relationships – be they with family, friends or lovers – are processes. And no matter how happy and contented you are with the important relationships in your life, there’s always room for improvement. Relationships, like all processes, also ebb and flow and present you with challenges.

Here are a few great techniques to help you engage in relationships in a way that represents the kind of person you most want to be:

  • Practise mindful listening when engaging in conversation. Take a few seconds to become aware of your current experience, breathe slowly and rhythmically, and pay careful attention to both what’s being said and other aspects of the interaction, such as the pace, tone and volume of the other person’s speech, as well as her body language.

  • Set yourself a daily goal to do something nice for someone who’s important to you, no matter how small the gesture.

  • Ask difficult questions if the answers are important to you, even if you fear they may lead to painful conversations or experiences. Take time to reflect on how best to ask those questions in a way that’s caring and compassionate so that the other person feels able to answer honestly.

  • Write a list of the things that matter most to you in your relationships with other people. Try to come up with ten qualities, such as honesty, kindness and trust, for example. Then consider each quality in turn, and think about how you can actively make it a feature of your current and future relationships.