Why being consistent is key to healthy connection
As someone who spends her life trying to remember to reply to other people’s messages, this might seem like a strange post for me to be writing! But there’s no disputing that being consistent in our behaviour towards those we care about is absolutely one of the most important things that we can do to grow, deepen and strengthen our connections.
What does being consistent means? Consistency in relationships is about repeating actions which set expectations over time. For example, turning up when we say we’re going to turn up, returning calls, replying to texts, remembering special occasions, and doing all of these things in reliable and consistent patterns of behaviour.
You'd be astonished at what the science tells us about the importance of consistency in connection. In fact, Shasta Nelson (friendship coach and author of 'Frientimacy') argues that consistency is one of the three core pillars of powerful friendships, along with vulnerability and positivity.
When we are consistent, we evoke a sense of trustworthiness amongst our friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family members. Studies have shown that people who are more consistent, dependable and predictable in their interactions with one another, have longer and more successful relationships.
Other studies show that when you are consistent, other people are more relaxed and less on edge around you, because they know that you will be there no matter what. 'But one of the joys of being single is being able to live life on my own terms,' I hear you protest. What about spontaneity, being able to come and go as we please? Don’t predictability, dependability and consistency sound a bit, well, boring…? Maybe. But if 'living life on your own terms' means being as flaky as anything when it comes to maintaining and contributing to your friendships, then it’s worth standing back and stopping to think about the impact that could be having. This isn’t about trying to cramp your solo style! It’s about recognising the realities of how strong friendships are made and maintained. Being consistent doesn’t mean giving up being spontaneous, having fun, going on last minute adventures etc. But it could mean doubling down on making sure your people know you’ll be there when they really need you, no matter what else you’re up to. Sometimes, life gets in the way for all of us. When it comes to being consistent, something is almost always better than nothing! If you’re going to be off radar for a while, tell people that, and explain when you’ll be back in touch. If you’re busy with work, explain when you expect to feel more freed up. If you can’t meet up in person, offer an explanation, and an alternative.
Finally, if you’re falling over from trying to consistently meet everyone else's needs, it could be that you're trying to be too much, to too many people. Don’t forget that consistency doesn’t have a particular time commitment attached to it. It’s just about being reliable and predictable in your behaviour. If that means replying to some people’s texts after a day or a week, rather than straight away, then that’s fine – as long as that is consistently what you do with them. Messages don’t have to be long, either – as long as (you’ve guessed it) you are reasonably consistent in your communication style so that everyone knows what to expect.
For more on this, along with two other simple yet little known ways to grow strong and thriving local friendships, join my exclusive Complete Connection Confidence group on Facebook where I'll be going live this Thursday at 6pm GMT + 1!
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