As thoughts turn to the new year and making New Year’s resolutions, we often focus on our health, our careers, and maybe how we plan to enjoy our lives more in general in the coming year. A key part of all these things are our relationships. Having strained relationships can wreak havoc on our health, career potential, and certainly affect our enjoyment of life. What will you commit to doing in 2023 that will improve the relationships most important to your happiness?

As a recovering jackass myself, I have 3 New Years resolutions for you to consider that will contribute to improved relationships in 2023.

New Year’s Resolution #1 – Reclaim Civility

By civility, I mean common courtesy and politeness. There’s a lot of division among us right now. Unfortunately, the lack of civility we show toward one another only pushes us farther apart. Simple acts of kindness can go a long way in beginning to shrink the chasms that have developed in our society.

  • Pay attention to what’s happening to those around you. Be aware when others are in distress and offer help.
  • Say “please”, “excuse me”, and “thank you”. And teach your kids to do this too!
  • Exercise restraint with others. As my mom would say, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.” It’s amazing how many conflicts will simply fizzle out if you refuse to fan the flames.
  • Rather than debating or berating someone with whom you disagree, acknowledge their opinion with a comment such as “Interesting thought. Can you tell me why you feel that way?” This doesn’t require you agree with them. And you never know, they may have information you find enlightening.

New Year’s Resolution #2 – Communicate More, Not Less with Those You Find Most Challenging

It’s true, practice makes perfect. So just like with any sport or music instrument, if you want to improve, you must practice. But most of us look to avoid conflict and shy away from interacting with those we find challenging. As a result, the relationship doesn’t improve and often our gaps in understanding each other grow.

When you communicate more with someone, you learn how they respond to certain words and concepts. You become familiar with what is and isn’t effective when talking to them. You gain an understanding of their perspective. You learn what they appreciate and what pushes their buttons. And typically, because you get to know them better, you care more about those with whom you interact more often.

New Year’s Resolution #3 – Adopt a Caring Attitude Using Empathy

Empathy is the ability to imagine oneself in another person’s situation and feel how they feel. Showing others empathy lets them know they are heard and are not alone in their feelings of distress. For me, I imagine how I would like to hear the words said to me that I plan to say to someone else. If it makes me cringe, I revise my plan. Same goes for decisions I make.

But that doesn’t mean that I never deliver bad news or make unpopular decisions. It does mean that I consider if I had to receive bad news or have a decision negatively affect me, how would I hope someone would treat me in those moments.

Conclusion: Include Relationships in Your 2023 New Year’s Resolutions

As you contemplate the improvements you want to make in your life in 2023, be sure to include your plans for improving difficult relationships, reclaiming societal civility, and showing empathy when interacting with others.

Choose at least one action you’ll take starting this week to work on improving your relationships with family, colleagues, and others whom you encounter. Need ideas beyond those we’ve already covered? Check out the list below. Got others? Tell me about it in the comments.

21 Small act of Kindness for The New Year

  1. Smile or say hi to a stranger
  2. Hold the door for them a door
  3. Let someone into your lane when driving
  4. Offer to help a neighbor or friend
  5. Offer to babysit
  6. Give a hug 
  7. Offer to take a photo
  8. Tell someone something you appreciate about them
  9. Let someone go ahead of you in line
  10. Donate things, money, your time
  11. Give up your seat on a bus, subway, taxi
  12. Send a card, note, or letter of gratitude
  13. Phone a friend
  14. Apologize 
  15. Forgive
  16. Leave a nice note behind for someone
  17. Pay it forward at the drive-thru, store, or restaurant
  18. Welcome new people – introduce yourself, introduce others
  19. Call your parents
  20. Keep commitments
  21. Live by the Golden Rule… treat others the way you want to be treated through your words, actions, and even thoughts

For more tips on improving your most challenging relationships, check out the rest of Teresa’s blog at

Are you a co-parent or stepparent looking for help, start with Teresa’s book, Combative to Collaborative: The Co-parenting Code. Available on Amazon in paperback, ebook, or audio book. Get signed copies directly from the author right here. Want to see this book added to your favorite bookstore or library? Share this link with them.

Happy 2023!