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As we grow up, we continuously build new social networks with others, for examples classmates, friends, colleagues, spouses and spouses’ family members etc. With the passing of time, we would come to treasure all our relationships even more. However, because of different personalities and ways of interacting with people, it is absolutely not easy for one to get along with others harmoniously in real life. Therefore, it will be very hard to maintain those relationships without forgiveness and understanding.

Basically, a senior’s character is an extension from their junior self. Nevertheless, with the increase in age, having experienced all the emotions that life has to offer, one's personality might change due to all kinds of life experiences. Some people have learnt to control their temper properly and become more easy-going. Alternatively, one may have been opinionated in the past, but because their views had been constantly met with criticisms, they have gradually become quieter and even silent. They would communicate less with others in their old age.

Attitudes on getting along with others and ways of managing things would also affect our relationships with others. Good or bad interpersonal relationships would greatly affect our emotional wellbeing. Bad interpersonal relationships would adversely affect psychological health, and cause unhappiness in our lives. Possessing good interpersonal relationships could make people delighted, and live with satisfactions and ‘love’.

This page provides some crucial tips for Fostering Interpersonal Relationships. It could facilitate the “Green Age” population to establish good interpersonal relationships effectively in the following social circles.

Lifelong Companion
Next Generation
Elder Parents
Siblings
Domestic Helpers
Friends

Lifelong Companion

Couples are usually busy with work in their able years, so they would not have much time to get together every day. By contrast, couples get along with each other day and night after retirement, so tensions and arguments could arise easily. Some habits of the other would not have been noticed before, but now they could be seen clearly. If there is less acceptance or compromise, contradictions would begin to surface.
  • “Hand in hand, till we grow old together” could not be achieved by all couples. It would not be easy to live hand in hand for a few decades. We should treasure the time together.
  • Strengthen communication with each other, and understand the psychological changes, pressures and worries towards another’s retirement.
  • Appreciate one another’s strengths, and send out more thanks and support to another. Accept another’s weaknesses, and be less critical and picky towards another.
  • Make uses of the increased time together, discover similar interest, accompany each other to participate in healthy activities.
  • Respect individuals’ interests and hobbies. Do not force another to attend every activity with us together, and appropriately give private space and time to each other.
  • Stepping into retirement age, decline in bodily functions could not be avoided, and different illnesses would often appear too. We should clearly understand this law of nature, care about and look after each other, and discuss everything with one another. Eventually, the relationships would last forever.
  • We should understand that people with illnesses and difficulties in getting around would encounter a lot of inconvenience in their daily life, and their emotions would be negatively affected. Care givers would feel so much stress mentally and physically as well. Tensions should be released through talking to each other.
  • Be eager to share valuable experiences and life stories . Do not hide our thoughts. We should be frank with each other, and understand the likes, dislikes and views of others.
  • Even as an old married couple, surprises could be given to our companions. Then, freshness and fun would be brought to our lives. We finally would share a desirable golden age together.


Next Generation
  • Parents and children grew up in different eras, so their life environment and social culture were different. There would be a certain extent of diversities in thoughts, concepts, points of view and ways of doing things among us. Try to think from the perspective of our children, and understand the thoughts and feelings of the next generation. Stay calm and communicate with an open-mind, even though there are diverse differences in views and opinions between the generations.
  • Traditional families would follow the rules of seniority, and hierarchy exists in a family. Everything would be decided according to the seniors’ opinions. Most of the time, parents would adopt the ‘Paternalistic Approach’ when interacting with their children. With the generation changing, parents should adjust the communication mode with children, and listen to their voices. We should also share our daily stories, experiences, and even burdens with the next generations.
  • Respect children’s privacy.
  • We should be fair, treat our children and grandchildren equally, and should not spoil and give preferential treatment to individuals. The relationships among parents, children and grandchildren would then be harmonious. That way, there will be significantly less feelings of opposition or jealousy.
  • Thoughts and values of children might not be same as that with the parents in the one family. Moreover, the sons-in-law and daughters-in-law who grew up in a different living environment would naturally be different in their thoughts and lifestyle. Whether we are older or younger, we should respect others’ thoughts and lifestyles, coordinate with others, and should not force others to make changes for our own sake.
  • The theory of maintaining good relationships among parents, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law is to respect and understand others. Put ourselves in others’ shoes, appreciate others’ strengths and accept others’ differences.
  • Care and support our children, do not intervene or disturb the family lives of our children and children-in-law.
  • Do not intervene or disturb our children's child-rearing styles, and trust our children’s decisions.
  • Make use of personal time, widen our life circles, arrange our social activities, and do not always bother our children and grandchildren or make them worry about us.
  • Information technology is changing rapidly, so parents and seniors should keep up with the time, learn and make use of new technology such as email, Facebook and WhatsApp etc, and keep contact and communicate with the next generation.
  • Do not believe in gossiping. It is the best to find out the truths in order to avoid suspicious and hard feelings.
  • Accept and appreciate the next generation’s good intentions to give us gifts and invite us to eat out during festival moments. If we do not want them to waste money, we could express our considerations appropriately, but the tone should not be too strong nor too blunt, avoid words such as money wasting or worthless things etc. Otherwise, next time they celebrate festivals, go on excursions or enjoy delicious food, you would not be invited in order to avoid disappointments and bringing down the mood of an otherwise delightful gathering. Occasionally, it would be economical, practical and full of fun to invite them to have meals together.


Elder Parents
  • Aged parents would one day pass away. If aged parents are still alive, children should treasure the time together, care and respect them.
  • It would not be easy to take care of the elderly. We should understand that aged parents’ self-care abilities would be greatly lowered and become more dependent on children’s cares because of their illnesses and decline in bodily functions. In addition, due to difficulties in moving around and weak physical health, outdoor activities would be reduced. Furthermore, the younger generations need to work and study during weekdays, so aged parents would feel lonely. Therefore, we should accompany them more, and make calls to have casual chats with them regularly. Consequently, they would feel the care and love from children, and the relationships would be closer.
  • Elderly usually would have child mentality. When there are different opinions on daily trivial things, we should try to be accommodating to the parents and make them happy. Explain the reasons calmly if it is an important issue, for instances taking medicine regularly and having diets with low oil, salt and sugar etc.
  • Listen to the parents’ voices patiently, accept their different ideas and stubborn thoughts, express thanks and appreciations appropriately, and recognize their contributions to the family.
  • People are not familiar to express cares to other family members through words in Chinese families, so make uses of body language to send out care and love to parents such as patting the back of their hands, holding hands, massaging their shoulders, arms and legs etc.
  • Respect aged parents’ wishes. Consult parents’ opinions before making decisions which were related to them, for examples asking someone to take care of their daily lives, medical arrangements, and moving into an elderly home etc. Discuss the issues together, then reach a consensus; do not make them feel ignored and abandoned.
For the “Green-aged” readers who need to bear the responsibility of taking care of their parents’ daily lives, please refer to Important Tips For Carers in order to learn how to take care of old parents.


Siblings
  • We could choose who to be friends with, but not our siblings, so we need to treasure these unchangeable connections.
  • Chinese families maintain the relationships among siblings according to the traditional concept of seniority, and showing love and respect to our siblings. Nevertheless, contemporary society emphasizes equality and reasonableness. Therefore, we should respect and understand others, and possess caring attitudes to communicate and get along with others.
  • We should not compare among siblings. Despite growing up in the same family, every member possesses individual strengths and developments. It would be difficult to make comparisons in the extent of success, salary and sense of satisfaction among different industries.
  • We have individual families, so there would be little chance to spend time with others during weekdays. Therefore, we could make uses of communication technology in order to keep in touch.
  • Many times, we might not hold the same opinions as our siblings and other family members on some trivial issues related to our parents and children. Disagreements would even emerge. We should understand the situations and thoughts of others, seek consensus and solve problems together. We should not bury our discontents in deep our minds.


Domestic Helpers
  • During weekdays, children and grandchildren need to work and study, so domestic helpers are the only companions at home. It is essential to trust them in order to foster a more harmonious relationship with them.
  • Children hire domestic helpers to take care of housework and grandchildren. Many parents and elderly would then feel less useful or important compared to the domestic helpers at home. Therefore, some would reject the domestic helpers, and turn the relationship terribly sour. As parents, why not think from the other side and consider the situations of our children? Our children already have work for the whole day, and must already be awfully tired. They originally want their parents could have better lives. If domestic helpers could help manage those heavy and trivial housework, then the family could enjoy some happy time together more easily.
  • Appreciate the good things done by the domestic helpers more; suspect and criticize them less.
  • Treat domestic helpers justly and reasonably, and one must not be censorious. Encourage and appreciate their efforts at work, correct and guide them when they fail to perform well.
  • Give appropriate corrections and advice for particular issues. Avoid emotionally harsh words and personal attacks. Then, the relationships would not become tense, and everybody could get along harmoniously.
  • In Hong Kong, most domestic helpers are foreigners. They come from other nations, so their habits, religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds would be greatly different from us. Therefore, we should respect their religions and customs.
  • Make uses of body languages such as gestures, actions and facial expressions to communicate with our domestic helpers in order to solve problems caused by a lack of a common language.
  • Put ourselves in their shoes, and empathize with their feelings and difficulties of leaving home. A smile could make them feel the care. We should not always wear a serious face with manner of an ‘employer’ too.
  • Respect and coordinate with each other.


Friends

Would ‘having nodding friends over the world, but few blossom friends’ be the voices of many “Green-aged” people? From study to work in the society and even retirement, we would meet many people from different walks of life every day. Many of them are just acquaintances, but few of them could become close friends. Apart from ‘having various synergy between different people’, it would depend on interpersonal skills and the ability to maintain personal relationships.
  • Treasure every friendship. Not every person we have known could become friends in our lives. Everyone has their own personalities, ways of managing things and hobbies. We need to communicate and treat our friends with a sincere heart.
  • Treat friends with a sincere attitude. Friendship is not based on living standards, careers, social status or properties.
  • We need to respect, trust and support each other in order to maintain a long friendship.
  • Offer help and support to each other when encountering obstacles.
  • Give advice to each other when someone makes a mistake; accept differences and inadequacies.
  • Understand the thoughts and feelings of our friends. Be generous and open-minded, do not be narrow-minded towards them.
Interactions and communications directly determine the good or bad of our interpersonal relationships. Interactions and communications work both-ways. We should open ourselves first, and take the first step forward. Keep in touch with each other often, maintain connections with the society, and do not isolate or hide ourselves. Live together with love, it will then naturally foster pleasant and permanent interpersonal relationships.

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