Oh man. This is something that matters WAY more than we give it credit. We can get better at relating to people by working at it. Why wouldn't we work at it? We can become better spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbours, even better at interactions with strangers. Relational intelligence is one of the most missing ingredients in society today. Parents used to teach this to their children by modelling and by daily training. Sadly, today most parents don't have the relational skills to teach their kids or to model it. We have raised a generation on relationally broken people and our broken relationships are evidence of it. May I plead with you? Work on this! How?
1. Take the relational words of scripture seriously (ie. Phil. 2; Rom. 12; Proverbs 1-31; etc.). They are not just spiritual truths, they are practical advice that really works if you do it.
2. Notice those who are great relationally; observe how they behave; learn from them. Practice doing what they do.
3. Set goals for yourself; work consciously at it. Most of our relational habits are subconscious. In order to change them, we have to become intentional; we have to work at it. Any new behaviour feels awkward and takes lots of energy at first. The more we do it, the more it becomes natural.
4. If you’re really ambitious, read great material on it. "Everyone is Normal Until You Get to Know Them" by John Ortberg. There are several great John Maxwell titles on this subject (Be A People Person; Becoming a Person of Influence; 25 Ways to Win With People and more).
5. Ask for help. There are people in your life that would help you if you solicited it. Most people don't want to push relational advice on us because it seems rude to give it uninvited. We need each other. Ask for help.