The Simple Trick For Better Relationships That Most People Ignore


After having some conversations with friends, I came away feeling a bit upset. Then I was worried about if I had done the same thing to others recently! It’s such an easy mistake to make, but the impact can be huge. We all know it, but often forget it because we want to be heard; we need to remember to stop and listen, and not just talk and share our thoughts. 

So I was catching up with a friend the other week and I was really excited to share some news with him.

Now we’ve all been there. We have something exciting to share and want to tell others so that they can get excited too and support us, just like we support them when it’s the other way round.

So I told my friend this news, but sadly, he reacted differently to how I thought he would. He decided to explain why he would never make the same decision as me, in great detail.

We need people to really hear what we are saying and make us feel valued

I’m not exaggerating when I say for the next hour and 20 minutes he gave me a speech (no interruptions allowed). Then said as a throwaway line ‘If you want to do it though, then that’s fine, but…’. It was quite upsetting for me.

We’ve All Been There 

We’ve all had this happen to us haven’t we? Where we feel like we haven’t been listened to and come away from a conversation feeling rubbish.

I totally believe that sometimes we need to be challenged. We need people close to us to tell us like it is, we do not just want them to always agree. But we need to be listened to as well. We need people to really hear what we are saying and make us feel valued.

I remember arranging to meet up with another person who I had just started to get to know. I thought it would be good to hang out together. However, when we did meet up, they just spoke about themselves the whole time.

A genuine, relationship-building conversation involves two people really listening and allowing each other to express themselves. When it’s just all about them, you leave feeling rubbish. (Assuming of course, there isn’t a crisis that they need to talk about in-depth).

We’ve All Done It

But then I started to worry about the times I had done that, or got carried away myself. Taking over all of the space and conversation and not really stopping to listen.

I think I can end up doing it, especially when I’m tired or it has been a long day. I find it much harder to listen. To be fully present. I felt bad about the times when I recently forgot to really hear what others were saying and made other people feel like they weren’t listened to.

The relationship is weakened when we make it about ‘me’ rather than ‘us’

We can all make mistakes can’t we? And get it wrong. But when we forget to really take in what our friend, or our other half, or the other person is saying, the relationship is weakened when we make it about ‘me’ rather than ‘us’. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

Just Stop

I remember ages and ages ago during a talk, someone saying: ‘The next time you are talking to someone, just stop talking, and really listen. Because people have a lot to say, and they need to be heard.’

This has always stuck with me. Especially in a society that tells us that to be worth something we need to be the centre of attention, need to be the ‘most unique person’ that everyone is talking about. But investing in the relationship is what will answer our deepest need, rather than just focusing on ourselves. (Read Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!)

Valuing the other person and what they have to say

All of this stuff you probably know already. You’ve probably heard it before. But it’s so easy to forget, to just want to talk, to get carried away.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remember this simple but powerful idea. That we don’t just sit there in silence during a ‘conversation’ waiting to talk again. But intentionally listened and really took on board what people were saying. That they went away feeling listened too. When we forget this simple trick, it makes our relationships weaker.

For some people, this will be hard, for others it will be harder, but loving people and building relationships starts by valuing the other person and what they have to say.

How will you remind yourself to practice this simple piece of advice? Comments welcomed. 

Originally posted 20/8/2018

Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!


In a society where loneliness is on the rise and technology can sometimes hinder authentic human interaction, the importance of friendships needs to be shouted about more. But how do you improve friendships, or build one, in a way that doesn’t feel forced in amongst the busyness of life? Well this great tip should help us as we pursue real and worthwhile friendships.  

Do you ever have one of those eureka moments?

Where you pause and think that is genius and yet so simple?

Those times when you think you kind of knew that already, but could never put it into words?

Well, one of these moments happened to me when I was chatting with a friend recently. We were talking about work. He asked me how Naked Truth Relationships was going, and then I asked him about this relatively new job.

He was talking about how he is trying to make the team more social. Like getting them to go out somewhere as a group away from the office; e.g. going out for drinks after work sometimes, or going for a walk, or playing sports together, etc.

Context Over Time 

He’s always been good at doing things like this and trying to foster relationships. But he was emphasising the need for different contexts. I was intrigued, so asked him why this was important.

He said he remembered reading this theory which stated that if you want to build a friendship, you do need to spend time together, but that isn’t enough. You also need to hang out in different contexts as well.

In a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles

According to this theory, just by spending time with someone in a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles. So while spending time with someone increases the strength of your relationship, experiencing a different context together multiplies it.

Therefore, spending time with people at work and then going out for drinks all the time, isn’t as beneficial as spending time together at work, going out for drinks, doing team-building exercises together, sharing a meal in each other’s homes, playing sports together, etc.

Applying Simplicity  

It’s strange because this is something we probably realise already. Our close friends are people we see in lots of different contexts, not just in one place. We already know it’s true, but probably wouldn’t have said that or explained it like that before now. (Read What A Fishing Proverb Taught Me About Relationships)

This is why, for example, just going out on dinner dates isn’t a good way to get to know someone. Doing something like a dance class, going on a hike, visiting a museum, spending time with each other’s friends, means we truly get to know someone.

Just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced

Another example is taken from church. Lots of churches now (like many have always done) emphasise community. The need to build relationships and be family. To build authentic friendships. (Read I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without My Church Family)

Yet we live busy lives and we feel like just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced and a bit awkward.

But we can follow this new theory. We can arrange a social at the church, or arrange to meet up outside the church, do an activity, go visit somewhere else, spend time with each other’s families, in each other’s homes. Just by changing the context, we experience a different bit of each other.

Imagine If…

Obviously, this isn’t foolproof. There will still be people we will not fully ‘click with’ because of different personalities or whatever. And obviously, the more time you spend with a friend the closer you become. But carving out time is hard sometimes.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten

Imagine if we weren’t put off from investing in people because of time pressure, but rather put the effort into trying new things or activities in order to gain shared experiences and see each other in a new light.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten. This theory from my friend revealed how we can all build better friendships and a real community. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

What is the best advice you’ve ever heard for building friendships? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 16/7/2018

How I Responded To Friends Who Hurt Me, And Why It Matters


I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes through those weeks where your close friends rub you up the wrong way. They manage to hit on all your insecurities and make you feel really bad. So what do you do, talk to them? Ignore it? Remember we all make mistakes? Different people say different things, but actually, all of this can help.

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced all the stresses piling up at the same time to create a few weeks we would rather forget.

You know those times, when there are a thousand things to do at work and commitments at church and with friends need juggling. Then a delightful bill from the garage to fix your car arrives to go with the bill to fix a problem in your house.

Fun, fun, fun.

It seems to be during these times everything else seems a bit harder, and takes more time and effort. This is when you need a bit of support from your friends, but sadly, it doesn’t seem to happen.

2 Sides To Every Story

What I’m about to share isn’t from my ‘high horse’ or from a place where I think I’m perfect. I know I have let friends down and make mistakes. I also know there are two sides to every story, and you’re only hearing my side.

But I do want to share these stories. Not so I can rant, but to be real about the fact that we get hurt. Friends can say and do things that seem ‘little’ and not worth making a fuss about, but can actually cause a lot of hurt.

We need to be honest about it and think about how we can choose to respond.

‘Really? That’s Not Good’ 

This first occasion happened at church recently. There was a social action project happening which I couldn’t do because I injured my back, and because I spent hours in the kitchen washing up after the church’s community lunch, which took ages.

I went to church again later on for the evening, and the first thing someone said to me was ‘Did you help at the social action project?’ I said ‘No I wasn’t there’. Then they said ‘Really? That’s not good’ and walked off.

I was so annoyed

They were kind of half joking half not, and I was so annoyed. They didn’t say ‘Why couldn’t you make it?’, or ‘Are you OK?’. They simply judged and assumed I wasn’t there because I’m not a ‘good Christian’.

I was really hurt by it, and it played on my mind for a big part of the evening service.

Did You Hear This?

Later that week something else happened. Now, let me say that I’m all up for banter, and ‘taking the mickey’ with friends. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and we all do silly things. But when our friends are essentially making fun of us, and then talk about us as if we aren’t there, that really hurts.

It always hurts more when close friends go a bit too far

This happened a few times with the same group of friends. You know the difference between someone including you in the joke, and someone making you the joke. When they’re saying to each other ‘Did you hear this?’, and are essentially pointing and laughing.

It always hurts more when close friends go a bit too far, and manage to intentionally or accidentally, make a joke about a big insecurity.

Sadly, we can probably all relate to (similar) incidents like these ones.


Sometimes you think it’s so minor, if you bring it up or make a big deal out of it it will make you look petty. But words can be really hurtful, and it can breed negative feelings in us.

So what can we do?

Firstly, I want to say you aren’t the only one. When these things happen and you feel like it’s a big deal even though it was just one word that was said, it matters, and it’s not OK.

This stuff matters, because these are the type of things that can cause us to withdraw. To think that we are alone. Or that our friend isn’t as good a friend as we thought. Here are some things we need to remember to make sure this stuff doesn’t weaken our relationships.

  • A Bad Moment Doesn’t Define The Relationship
  • Remember The Positives
  • Sometimes An Awkward Talk Is Needed

A Bad Moment Doesn’t Define The Relationship

A bad moment or bad joke doesn’t define the relationship. This is hard when in the moment we feel angry, but we need to hold on to the fact that a moment doesn’t mean everything is tainted.

This is hard to do, but remembering why you’re friends in the first place, putting this incident into context and remembering they may be going through a bad time or may have a different sense of humour or way of communicating, is important.

Otherwise, the negative feelings may just keep growing.

Remember The Positives

Following on from this first point, something that has really helped me recently is remembering the positives about my friends when I’m annoyed by them. And not letting my mind just wonder to the negatives.

So I remember that although they have a cutting sense of humour, they are very generous. Or even though they say things in a bad way sometimes, they are always ready to meet up and listen when I have a problem.

Love is choice at the end of the day

Love is choice at the end of the day. We may feel bitter, but we can choose to remember they’re a good friend and no one is perfect. We can choose to rebuild the friendship and forgive. (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear)

Sometimes An Awkward Talk Is Needed

However, sometimes, we do need to talk about it. Especially if it really hurt us, or it’s a pattern and something that keeps happening.

Awkward chats aren’t fun. But sometimes a friendship needs a frank conversation. Otherwise, things will keep weakening the relationship. We can’t just say it’s not a big deal when it is. (Read How Successful Relationship Avoid Letting Anger Win)

Imagine If…

I used a mixture of these responses with my friends and in my recent situations. I know I’ve made mistakes and had to apologise to friends for things I have said and done, and will no doubt need to do it many more times. But when it happens to me, I can choose how I respond.

Imagine if we remember one bad choice can’t define everything, that people are a mix of good and bad and we can choose to focus on the positive, and sometimes we need to have awkward conversations. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

What else can you do to respond positively? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 28/5/2018

‘Family’ Is Redefined In Light Of The Cross

Friendships, What The Bible Says

As we celebrate and reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection, it’s so important to meditate on the profound impact it has on our relationships. It may sound obvious to some of us, but we can often take this for granted or overlook how it should affect our definition of ‘family’. I am always reminded of how important this is when I read John 19:25-27. 

Happy Easter everyone!

I hope the last few days have been both sobering and a celebration. I’m always mesmerised by Jesus and his cross, and taking the time to reflect on it this time of year is such an amazing privilege.

As I think about Easter, I’m always drawn to how deep and rich the story is. All of the things Jesus achieved through his sacrifice are exciting, humbling, and awe-inspiring. And I just wanted to share one point, that you may very well be aware of, but I always think is worth saying.

New Family 

Naturally, doing the work I do around building healthy relationships, I’m always drawn to the relational impact our faith has. And I was reminded of a passage in John 19, which records some of the words Jesus spoke when he was dying on the cross:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, [John] took her into his home.
John 19:25-27

This is one of those verses which I can easily read over and not pay too much attention to. But like always, when we dig a little bit deeper, it teaches us so much.

Jesus, while he is hanging on the cross, while he is dying, is redefining what it means to be family. He says ‘this is your mother’, and ‘this is your son’, to two people that are only linked because of him.

He acted on what Jesus said and what he did

What’s amazing, is that John didn’t just think Jesus’ words were a nice idea or a nice phrase. We often hear people in church refer to each other as brother and sister, and it can lose meaning. But this new command and new understanding from Jesus caused John to actually bring Mary into his home and treat her like family. He acted on what Jesus said and what he did.

Mary had Blood Relatives

It’s quite clear from other passages in the Bible that Jesus had younger siblings. There was family that Mary could have stayed with and been looked after by. Which, especially in a culture which had a big emphasis on family and looking after your elders, they would have undoubtedly been prepared to do.

Yet Jesus seems to be suggesting that it’s no longer about blood relations anymore. It’s about knowing him, believing in what he did in that moment. He is the link. (Read Saved By Faith Vs Saved By Belief: The Crucial Difference). The cross means we love and look after other believers and treat them like family.

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’ Matthew 12:46-50.

New Perspective

Much more could be said, and much more could be added to this point, but for me, this verse stresses the importance of creating a new family based around faith in Jesus. Yes salvation is individual and Jesus meets each person individually, but it doesn’t end there.

We are saved into a family

We are saved into a family, a family that isn’t defined by status, or blood ties, or ability, but on what Jesus did at Easter. This should cause us to love and treat fellow believers as brothers and sisters.

We know loving people can be hard work. And we may have come from families where it wasn’t modelled that well or at all. Thankfully, we have a God who is ready to help us, is patient, and ready to forgive when we make mistakes (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear)

Imagine If…

This idea of family may have been something you’ve heard before, or it may be a new idea for you. But in a world that tells us to look after number one, and to only help people who act and think like we do, Jesus asks for us to see our fellow Christians as family, and to act like they are in very practical ways.

So what’s the one thing you could go out of your way to do this week, to help someone who needs help from the family?

What do you make of this idea? Comments welcomed below 

Originally posted 2/4/2018

How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving

Friendships, Interesting Research

Being present sounds like the easiest thing. But just sitting there instead of checking our phones, getting passed the initial awkwardness to begin a conversation, and carving out time from our busy to do list, is hard. But all our relationships, romantic or otherwise, can only thrive if we teach ourselves to be present in the moment. 

I love a to-do list. Having a plan and knowing what needs to be done next is great for me. This trait is good in many ways. For example, it helps me to focus and get things done. However, like all personality traits, there are also ‘side effects’.

This can cause me to focus too much on the next thing. I say to myself ‘right, after I have done this I need to do that, then go here and…’. So I end up not being present in the moment, and I focus on the next ‘task’ rather than the person in front of me.

Even people who would say they are spontaneous and don’t like to-do lists, can forget to make time for friends, or meet up with specific people, and invest in their relationships because there is no structure. We can all focus on other things in the busyness of life, and unintentionally not invest in our relationships and friendships.

So what can we do? Try to cut things out? Make more time? Maybe, but this is often hard to do and we end up feeling just as busy and guilty about not meeting up with people.

Personal Challenge 

This really hit me a while ago when I was listening to a random podcast.

Essentially, a mum who was starting her own business said she felt guilty when she was at work because she felt she should be spending more time with her kids. And when she was with her kids she felt guilty because she should be spending time getting stuff done at work.

Well why don’t you learn to focus on the moment and be present?

Someone in the podcast said to her: Well why don’t you learn to focus on the moment and be present? Instead of worrying and longing to be somewhere else, focus on the people you are with. Invest in what’s going on there and then.

I thought this was a challenge for me too. Instead of worrying too much about the next thing, or the things I’m not doing, I decided I had to learn to focus on the people I was with.

Relationship Are The Priority 

Whilst learning to be more present with friends, trying to stop my mind from wondering to tasks I need to complete next, I came across a very interesting article.

An 80-year long study from the University of Harvard found, to the researchers’ surprise, that strong meaningful relationships prolong life, increase life satisfaction, and improve mental and physical health.

You can read the article in full here, but it emphasises the importance of relationships. For example, it says:

‘Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.’

‘The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health…Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too… The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80’.

It’s fascinating to see that scientific research also stresses how important relationships are

Now, I truly believe my faith and God’s word stresses the importance of relationships, and we find true fulfilment and happiness by investing in our relationship with Him and others. (Read Reflecting God’s Image Is Found In Plurality.) It’s fascinating to see that modern scientific research also stresses how important relationships are. The article also said:

‘Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier,…and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills… It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”’

Being In The Moment 

It confirmed to me again that trying to exercise, develop skills for my job, doing life admin, are all important and necessary, but I can’t let it drown out the effort I put into my relationships.

There is something in us which craves intimacy and closeness, and it can only be filled by relationships

Forcing myself to talk and really listen, and not think of the next task that needs to be done. Resisting the urge to pick up my phone and look through social media when I am with people. Making time to pick up the phone or send a text so I can catch-up with an old friend. When I’m talking to someone I really need to look, listen, and engage with them.

There is something in us which craves intimacy and closeness, and it can only be filled by relationships, and I don’t just mean romantic ones, but by having close friendships. We need to learn to invest and be in the moment and avoid the ever tempting distractions.

Imagine If…

We can often assume our relationships will just be strong no matter what. But they only become strong when we invest, make time for the little conversations and the deep ones, and make time for each other.

Imagine if we learnt to be more present and to prioritise relationships alongside all the other things in our lives, like our career, improving our physical health, etc. We may not only find more joy in our lives and support during the bad times, but be glad that we can be there and be a blessing for those people who are close to us. (Read I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without My Church Family.)

What is the one thing you can do today to invest in a friendship? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 2/10/2017