We live in a reactive society where it’s easy to feel compelled to respond to e-mails the moment they hit our inbox. jump to conclusions before others have finished talking and get emotional before understanding the whole story. This behavior has the potential to lead to misunderstanding which breaks down communication and undermines relationships.

To save your relationships and even enhance them, there are 3 things you can do that will only take 5 minutes and can have a huge impact.

1.Think the best of others. If you think the worst you won’t get the very best. Not because of the other person, but because you are not giving them a chance. Take 5 minutes to openly listen while thinking the best about them and the situation.

2.Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand why they feel the way they do and what they are trying to say. Take a 5 minute pause just to see things from their perspective.

3. If all else fails, just take a 5 minute pause before you respond. It might give you time to clear your head and respond more rationally. This can be especially true if you are emotional about the topic.

If you totally blow it, there is still something you can do…Say “I am sorry”. Then, take the time to listen to what they have to say. After all, we are all human and we all make mistakes. Every reasonable person understands that.