It’s summertime! That means family vacations, suntans (and the inevitable burns), backyard barbecues, and more time with those closest to us. The question is, how do we convert quantity time into quality time?
In our busy lives, is it possible to slow down for a season and connect with those in front of us?
At Five Capitals, we believe it’s possible. Here are 3 tips for maximizing your relational capital this summer.
- Gear Down
It takes practice to shift yourself from “work mode” to “relational mode”, and it’s harder for some than others. Remember, relational capital is way more valuable than intellectual or financial capital, so that neighbor who is trying to connect with you is more important than that last hour of overtime! (Check out the book Build A Better Life)
Gearing down is about self-awareness. Be honest with yourself about your natural inclinations and learn to work with them and grow. Maybe it only takes a couple deep breaths to shift you from working to connecting. Maybe you know that you need a good workout or a 10-minute walk with your dog. For me, a cup of tea and some 90s rock usually does the trick. Once I feel my body and my mind settle into relational mode, connecting with family and friends comes way easier.
- Be Curious
No matter how long you’ve known someone, there is always more to learn. People are not static beings – we are always changing and growing. You might be amazed to discover sides of your family and friends that come to light simply by having curiosity and compassion toward them and their stories. I can’t tell you how many gems of family history I have learned this way! My favorite is when I get to tell my parents something about their parents they didn’t know.
Compassion is key, because people will allow more of their soul to be seen if they feel accepted and safe. Lean in with curiosity, practice the discipline of asking good questions, and see what happens!
Most people think they are good listeners, but research goes to show that we are pretty horrible at listening. If listening is not something you have actively practiced, it’s time to start. Put your phone down, turn your body toward your loved one, and listen for the purpose of understanding rather than responding.
Think back to the last time you felt truly heard… how did that person look at you? How did they respond when you described something meaningful or painful? Become a student of good listeners around you and offer the same to those you love.
One of our favorite listening techniques is called mirroring. It is the simple practice of repeating back what you hear (“What I hear you saying is…”) and tagging it with the humble question, “is that right?” Your relationships will be infinitely better for it.
This week, I practiced these three skills by simply hosting a Saturday morning brunch for close friends and family. I focused on creating a hospitable space where people felt welcomed and free, and I felt deeply joyful to watch relationships in the room deepen. It was the first time these friends had sat down for a meal with my parents, and it meant a lot to me for the group to connect on a meaningful level. All it took was some banana pancakes, coffee, and good stories!
Now, off to a great summer! May your relationships deepen and your sunburns fade.
Emily Blaylock and the Five Capitals Team