Humans are social creatures wired for connection. A single, meaningful interaction with a close confidant can boost your immune system and release the feel-good hormone oxytocin. While most people understand that strong relationships make them healthier and happier, they still struggle to establish and maintain authentic connections.

Sound familiar? Read and follow our tips below to make even your closest connections more profound.

Declare honesty

Laurie Gerber, head coach of Handel Group, says to first tell the people in your life that you’d like an honest relationship, in which both parties say exactly how they feel, even when it’s unpleasant or has the potential to change the relationship thereafter. This can work for business relationships, too, so long as you frame them around teamwork, productivity and achievement.

Follow the three-grumble rule

When you’re angry with someone in your head, they likely sense it even if you never voice the feelings. In order to bring things up before they fester, Gerber recommends the three-grumble rule: If you complain to yourself about someone more than three times, you must confront them. While momentarily uncomfortable, speaking up will extinguish small issues before they become big ones.

Create space

Sometimes physical distance between two people is the best way to increase the emotional bond. While this may sound counterintuitive, Michelle Garside of Soul Camp explains that when you take the time to do the things that feed your soul (e.g., dinner with friends, working out, meditating), you return to your relationships more focused, and in turn, more open to intimacy.

Purge blame

You’re likely holding on to some long-standing blame, perhaps with a sibling or parent. For example, you believe that because your dad was hyper-focused on his body, you developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Life coach Lauren Handel Zander says that to fix any given hang up, you must first open up a dialogue with the person on whom you’ve placed the blame.

Rather than pointing out what they did wrong, explain that you’ve noticed a connection between their behavior and your issue and you’d like to work through the problem together. In doing so, you’ll gain a fuller understanding of why they behaved as they did, which will deepen your compassion toward them and connection to them.

Stay present

With technology constantly advancing and content always increasing, your focus is likely spread across several screens, tasks and people. The simplest—and arguably most important—way to connect is to give the other person 100 percent of your attention. Put your phone down, stop running through a mental to-do list and just listen. Focus not only on their words but also how they are speaking: Tone and body language provide ample insight into emotion.

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