Relationships are key to a successful life. One of the most essential things you can do to impact others is to develop your relationship skills. The most important ingredient to developing healthy relationships is the concept of unconditional positive regard. If you are a teacher, the children in your classroom will give you fewer difficulties if you first show them that you value them. As a manager, if you show your employees that you care about them personally, they will work to any level to produce for you. As a coach, if you can win the hearts of your team, there is no limit to how successful your coaching can be.
There are two types of positive interactions which will be discussed here: unconditional positive regard, and conditional positive regard. The types of relationships you develop will either be based on contingent interaction or non-contingent interaction. Conditional positive regard leads to contingent interaction. For instance, statements like the following show contingent interactions: “Wow, you got an A on your paper, I’m really proud of you!” or, “You did a great job painting that wall.” Think about how statements like this feel to you. They are positive and probably feel really good to hear, but they are based on performance.
Now, here are some examples of non-contingent interactions: “How is your mother doing?” Or, “What do you do for fun?” How do these questions make you feel? Which types of interactions do you think will increase the level of connection within your relationships? Contingent interactions are performance based and lead to conditional positive regard. Non-contingent interactions lead to unconditional positive regard because you are showing you value someone just because. They don’t have to earn it. This helps people feel good around you because they know they are emotionally safe and that you care about them whether or not they perform.
If you are a counselor, teacher, manager, or occupy some other type of leadership position, here are some tips for developing unconditional positive regard with the people in your influence:
- Develop a sense of humor
- Encourage the other person to talk
- Show interest
- Be available
- Know their names
- Know their interests
- Share yourself authentically (self-disclosure)
- Pay attention
- Make space for emotional safety
- Practice attunement
- Make eye contact
- Slow down
- Use authentic praise
There are many other things you can do to develop unconditional positive regard in your relationships. Think about ways to connect on a non-performance level. Find ways to celebrate people. Think of creative methods for letting people know that they deserve to be celebrated. In order to do this, develop a personal plan on how to be intentional in your relationships. For example, if you are a manager, develop a strategic plan on how you can spend each day with one of your employees, maybe for five minutes only, and just get to know them. Do this a little bit each day and teach yourself how to connect with others, showing them unconditional positive regard. Even if you think this is a waste of time, it will pay back in volumes. If you lead groups, make a concerted effort to get to know each member as an individual. Use people’s names. Remember their names. This will take effort and may cause you to stretch, but it will be worth it. There really is no better life than one spent on others.
The results from those you interact with will be improved attitudes, fewer discipline problems, increased enjoyment, and greater motivation.