What does a good relationship look like?

Episode 35 in Part 3 of our Introduction series: Getting to know others.

Habits:  Giving | Be curious

Skills:  Relationships | Empathy

Description:  In this episode, we look into what makes a good relationship, identifying a number of ways that great relationships are formed and maintained. Our five key areas include; trust, respect, empathy, mindfulness and communication. 



Brené Brown – RSA Short Animation on Empathy


How this lesson might be discussed with your child

This episode investigates some of the ways that great relationships can be formed and maintained. Expanding on our previous episode focus on listening, this episode covers 5 key areas for better relationships:

  1. Trust

  2. Respect

  3. Empathy – Which in itself is made up of the ability to:

    • see the world as others see it

    • be nonjudgmental

    • understand another person's feelings (to recognize their emotions)

    • communicate your understanding of that person's feelings

  4. Mindfulness – in particular of your words and actions

  5. Communication – specifically, being open and honest.

The end of the episode outlines the difficulty in remembering and applying these five areas, so suggests a simple way to think about applying them: remember The Golden Rule.

We also encouraged students to watch the Brené Brown video on Empathy as a way to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy, helping them to consider whether they talk from sympathy or empathy with others.

When discussing this episode, some questions might include:

  • Why is it important for you to have good relationships?

  • Which of the 5 skills covered today do you think would be the most difficult to master? Why?

  • How could you improve in that area?

  • How could you help someone else improve in that area, without offending them?

  • Do you think trust is the most important foundation for any relationship? Why/Why not?

  • Can you have a good relationship with someone you don't respect? Why/Why not?

  • Did the Brené Brown video on Empathy make it easier for you to understand how you might talk to someone from a place of empathy rather than from sympathy?

  • How would you talk to friends or family now who might be struggling with something difficult?

  • Why do you think that empathy might be better than sympathy when talking to others?

  • Does this make sympathy bad? Why/Why not?

  • How can empathy help you build a stronger relationship with someone?

  • Why do you need to be mindful of your words and actions in relationships?

  • How can being open and honest in your communication benefit your relationships?

  • Can you be too honest? Why/Why not?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss how listening skills support the relationships and communication outcomes for different people? For example, how many of the 5 relationship areas do you think were displayed by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in their Presidential Debates? 

Questions may include:

  • In thinking of a recently celebrity couple who've recently separated, is their one of the 5 key relationship areas that you think might have been a problem? Why?

  • Do you think these areas can change in relationships over time? Why/Why not?

  • If you think they can change over time, how do you ensure they don't? Or should you let them change?

  • Can you think of a relationship that demonstrates all 5 key areas for a strong relationship?

  • What types of relationships do you think you could apply these skills to? (e.g. friendships, teacher/student, coach/player, mentor/mentee, employer/employee, siblings, parent/child, romantic relationship etc)

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"The most important ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people" — Theodore Roosevelt

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe 'knowing how to get along with people' is the most important ingredient for success? Why/Why not?

  • What do you think the most important ingredient of success is? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think Theodore Roosevelt (a United States President) would believe that getting along with people was so important?

  • Is getting along with someone that same as having a great relationship with them? What's the difference?

  • Which of the skills outlined in today's episode do you think could most help you to get along with people? Why?