Maybe you’ve been working too much, or you’ve just been incommunicado. Here’s how to renew your relationships with those who matter most to you.

This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.

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When you ask real estate professionals for their “big why,” many of them will say that it’s all about their family. The draw of real estate is often its flexibility — the chance to be there for those special moments and to prioritize the personal over the professional in a way that more rigid corporate structures don’t always allow.

The reality, of course, is long hours and 24/7 availability to clients and colleagues that can leave family and friends feeling ignored. Add to that some of the tensions that all families are enduring these days, from political disagreements to the stress brought about by distance, illness and diverging interests and lifestyles. 

Although it may sound funny to create an action plan for your personal relationships, the reality is that you need many of the same skills — negotiation, compromise and a win-win attitude — that you bring to your professional relationships. In addition, the investment you’re making in these relationships lasts for longer than an escrow period — the impact of an honest, positive discussion can have lasting effects on those relationships for decades to come.

There are times when you need to regroup and reconnect so that you can put first things first and that may require you to have some difficult conversations with those who should be closest to you. Here’s how to renew your relationships and get back on track, keeping everyone on the same page as you move forward together.

Be willing to apologize and take responsibility

There may be some fault on both sides if you’ve stopped communicating and spending time together, however, this is not the time for placing blame. Take responsibility for your part in the distance between you and apologize for whatever you’ve done to make it that way. 

Maybe you haven’t been returning calls. Maybe you haven’t shown up for special occasions and events. Maybe you’ve simply been mentally checked out and giving most of your energy to work. Whatever the circumstances, say you’re sorry and own up to your role.

Understand that moving forward with those you love is going to require humility and a willingness to accept your part in creating the tension or distance. There may be hurt feelings on both sides and it may take time to rebuild trust. This is not the time for score-keeping; if you truly want to create change, you may need to be willing to be wrong.

Have a conversation about what you’d like to see happen next

It doesn’t make sense to think that you’ll suddenly stop working and devote all of your energy to planning fun-filled family outings, but you do need to have some honest conversations about how you can course-correct. That includes both what you’re willing and able to do and what is needed by your family and friends.

Maybe your children want you at their soccer games. Maybe your significant other wants a date night that is set in stone. Maybe your parents want a once-a-week-without-fail-phone-call. 

Although you might not be able to accommodate everyone’s wishlist, having a conversation can help you learn what’s important to the people who are important to you so that you can get a better idea of how to make them feel seen and loved.

Create an action plan, and make it a priority

Once you’ve taken on feedback, decide what you can commit to and make it a priority. Time-block, or schedule your personal obligations just as you would your professional ones. Make these ongoing commitments — don’t just commit to them for a few weeks or months to placate everyone.

Think about what there is on your calendar that is inviolate and non-negotiable. Your personal commitments should share that level of importance.

At the end of the day, your support system and personal relationships are designed to outlast and outrank your professional commitments.

Create times to check in with each other for honest feedback

Once you’ve put together a plan, keep checking in to make sure it’s working and that you’re holding up your end of the bargain. Remember that needs change over time and as the relationship changes and improves. 

  • Your children’s needs will change as they grow and as their interests change. 
  • Your significant other’s needs will change as your relationship waxes and wanes. 
  • Your relationship with your parents will change as they get older and that will affect your relationship with your siblings. 
  • Your friends’ lives will change, and that will have an impact on your relationships as well.

Don’t think of relationships as one and done. Continue to make them a priority and continue to have honest conversations in the years to come.

Be open to professional help, if needed

If there has been a lot of pain in your relationship with your significant other and children, you may need to talk with a counselor, either alone or as a group. If you’ve identified toxic patterns in your relationship with your parents and siblings, you may want to have a neutral sounding board to help you navigate and rebuild those relationships.

If drugs or alcohol are creating barriers to the way you live and to your relationships with others, you need to figure out your relationships with these substances, as well. If there is abuse in your past that is still affecting you and your relationships in the present, it’s time to talk to someone and do the difficult work of dealing with your pain.

Understand that not everyone will be willing to move forward

Sometimes, we let a relationship founder, and we end up waiting too late to fix it. Your adult children may have been hurt one too many times, and they may not want to risk opening up to a deeper relationship with you.

Your significant other may have decided to prioritize their own peace by pursuing a life apart from you. A parent or sibling may be too far down the rabbit hole of their own addiction or bitterness to renew a relationship with you.

When you have honest conversations, you sometimes get honest answers that are not the ones you’re looking for. You have to be open and available to the feelings and responses of others, even if they’re not what you want to hear. 

No one owes you a do-over, and they may not be willing to give you one. Understand your part in creating the current situation, and try to be as gracious and empathetic as possible so that you can retain whatever positive feelings still exist between you.

Make relationship-building part of your self-care

The relationships we have create major impacts on the way we feel and the health outcomes we can expect. Everything from life expectancy to mental health to healing has been connected to the fostering and nurturing of the relationships in our lives. Yet many of us find ourselves isolated by too much work and too much emotional and mental distance, especially when building or managing a business.

When it comes to your health and quality of life, taking care of your relationships is as important as proper diet and exercise, if not more so. Don’t just think of the time you spend in relationship as important to others or as an obligation you owe to them. Think of it as something you owe to yourself and an essential part of living your best life.

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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