The Art of Relationships

Livia ChanBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better, Lead Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • There are many ways to establish and maintain relationships. These tips were previously shared on a Daily Drop In on August 17, 2021.
  • Tips: (1) See relationships as GIFTS. (2) GREET warmly and by name daily. (3) Show GRATITUDE. (4) Be GENUINE. Be you. (5) GO beyond by doing small things for others like offering help. (6) Make an INVESTMENT of time and effort into relationships. (7) Have a genuine INTEREST to learn more about others. (8) Be INTENTIONAL with every interaction to uplift others.
  • Challenge: When someone is placed in your heart or mind, reach out to tell them you’re thinking of them. Uplift them.

I had the greatest pleasure to spend a morning with Rae Hughart on the Daily Drop In recently.


The theme this week was relationships. I have been looking forward to this since the day I messaged Rae to tell her that I was interested to talk about some ideas.

As I prepared, I realized there were eight tips I wanted to share. They all neatly started with either the letter G or I. So as you read on, I encourage you to take a mindful moment to dive in deeper to the ones that resonate with you most. Many of these ideas are not new. We already know them but it’s the frequency and intentionality in taking action that will make the biggest difference in your relationships.  

The Art of Relationships: Gifts

Each day is a gift. When you wake up, have gratitude that you have been given the gift of another day. Make the most of it. Make an impact by making someone’s day a better one because you interacted with them.

“What I know for sure: It is an awesome gift to be alive on this beautiful planet. And I want my time here to be as bright as it can be.”

– Oprah

I see people as gifts. Connections are gifts. Relationships are gifts. Words are gifts. The words we receive and share with others are words that are gifts that can change a person’s day and brighten it. You can make an impact by making their day a better one. And in so doing, hopefully, their spirits will be lifted to follow your lead to make someone else’s day a brighter one…and so on and so on. There is great potential for an exponential impact that begins with your positive words shared.

Building and maintaining relationships start with a mindset that your connection to others is a gift. Treasure it. Treat it as such. Which relationships do you treasure? Do they know how much they mean to you? When was the last time you reached out to them to remind them you love them?

You can make a difference to each person you touch and uplift. Go ahead! Make an impact in their lives and an imprint on their hearts. Click To Tweet

The Art of Relationships: Greetings

Building relationships and maintaining them begins with greetings. Smile and be welcoming. Light up, smile, and greet students by name every day at the door. Be consistent to the point that they will miss the welcoming feeling they receive if you happen to be away. In elementary schools where parents still do drop off and pick up, greet all of them by name. Engage in conversations at the door and wish them a great day. This goes a long way in building relationships with parents.

Take as many OPPORTUNITIES as you can to greet others. As my good friend, Brad Hughes, encourages us to do: Let no one pass by unacknowledged. These greetings will lead to more opportunities for conversations, which eventually lead to a deeper relationship.

Don’t underestimate the power in your greeting. Reflect on how you greet others. How big is your smile? How much enthusiasm do you bring? What’s your energy level like? How do you feel when others greet you with a warm, welcoming smile versus one that feels like an obligatory hello?

The Art of Relationships: Gratitude

Gratitude is meant to be shared. Think about how you feel when someone shows appreciation for something you said or did. Doesn’t it lift you up? Be explicit with how you express it. State what you are thankful for and name the characteristic. For example, “Thank you for the _____. I am grateful for your thoughtfulness and generosity.” The more someone hears these words used to describe them, the more they begin to see how others view them. They start to see their actions are not just actions, but a reflection of who they are—thoughtful and generous. I believe this leads to becoming more of what they are appreciated for. 

In my class, I thank students in this way so that they begin to learn words they can use to describe themselves or their strengths. It helps them find words they can identify with. This especially helps with younger children but can most definitely apply to everyone of all ages.

Anytime you have gratitude in your heart, it is an OPPORTUNITY to thank others. Think about how you show gratitude. See if you can insert one extra description that describes their character.

We also practice Thankful Thursdays (idea shared by my good friend, Mark Horner) during our daily Community Circle time. I love it when they share how grateful they are to be in such a kind class and how everyone is so friendly. These regular compliments for their classmates encourage more positive behaviors to build our relationship as a class.

The Art of Relationships: Be Genuine

In maintaining relationships, it is crucial to be genuine. Be authentic. Be you. People will quickly begin to discover when you are not. By being you, you will find people drawn to who you are. So spending time with them just becomes simple because you are just being you!

“Everything you do and say shows the world who you are. Let it be the truth.”

– Oprah

The Art of Relationships: Go Beyond

It’s the little things that matter. Some call these “random acts of kindness,” but instead of seeing these as random, they are on purpose to show others you care. These small heart-given acts are actually big things that touch people’s hearts—holding a door, saying hello with a smile, or offering to help.

Ten years ago, on my first day of setting up my classroom in a new school, someone walked in to introduce himself. His name was Riffe. I still remember the first time we met because he did the simplest thing: He asked me if he can help me move any furniture around or if I needed any other help. Such a simple gesture! He probably didn’t think it was much when he offered but it meant the world to me. On a large staff, I don’t recall any other first-time meetings but I remember this one. I made sure I told Riffe of this small thing and the impact it had on my heart. He didn’t even know me yet, but by extending a helping hand and showing he was a thoughtful and caring person, that was the start of a beautiful friendship we still enjoy today.

What are some small ways you can show you care?

The Art of Relationships: Investment

Anything you want to grow takes time and effort. It takes nurturing and a willingness to want to develop it. Relationships are no different. It takes consistent time and effort. As Chad Ostrowski shared, “Have 100 conversations about nothing.” 

What’s the best thing you can give to any friendship or relationship? The gift of YOU! Give of your time, heart, love, care, empathy, and kindness. How do you invest your time in others? Is there a relationship you haven’t nurtured in a while? What actions can you take to help it grow?

The Art of Relationships: Interest

Have an interest in people to build or maintain relationships. Get to know them better. Take notice of the little things and bring them up in future conversations. Discover commonalities so you have more things to talk about as you connect. Ask questions to show your interest. You’ll find that the more questions you ask, the more you will learn, and the more interested you become. Be curious!

Have an interest in relationships with all stakeholders—custodians, office staff, and other people in your building or on social media. Review and take note of people who you don’t know as well and invest in that relationship. This is the same with students. Pay attention to the ones that you gravitate towards often. Which students do you not talk to as often? Provide them with your investment of time and effort too.

A big part of showing interest is listening. This is a HUGE piece to developing relationships!

“Be as passionate about listening as you are about being heard.” 

– Brene Brown

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The Art of Relationships: Intentionality

Each interaction you have is an OPPORTUNITY to intentionally uplift others with your kindness and gratitude. This is something I share often. Think about the multitude of opportunities we have every day. If we turn each of these into a mission to uplift others, can you imagine how many people’s lives you’d touched in one day? That’s making an impact…one interaction at a time! Many times, we don’t get to learn how our positive interaction made a difference, but know this: it did. If you helped brighten their day, I bet it made YOU feel better…especially if you reached out and they responded to your message. That is the best form of self-care around!

Having intentionally uplifting interactions with students, families, staff, my PLN, and others enriched and changed my life. Each time, I was uplifted too. Who can you uplift today? Put on the lens of opportunity. See each person you interact with as an opportunity to uplift.


When someone is on your mind, take a minute to reach out. They are placed on your heart and mind for a reason. One minute is less than 0.07% of your day. It takes no time to let someone know you are thinking of them. The more you reach out and touch someone’s heart, the more you’ll realize that your heart is touched right back. Give it a try! You’ll see what I mean.

Most of us know the starfish on the beach story. You can make a difference to each person you touch and uplift. Go ahead! Make an impact in their lives and an imprint on their hearts. Who will you reach out to today? Tomorrow? And every day?

About Livia Chan

Livia Chan is an educator and author passionate about building relationships, teaching, leading, and daily learning. Her other passions include family, friends, and the sport of ringette. She lives by the belief that in every interaction we have the opportunity to intentionally uplift others through our kindness and gratitude to help make their day a brighter one.

For over 20 years, Livia has continued to experience the joy of teaching in the Greater Vancouver area in BC, Canada and loves her role as a Head Teacher and classroom teacher. She previously served on the District Staff Development Team in Learning Technologies supporting K-12 educators. Currently, Livia is honored to be the Digital Content Coordinator and Ambassador for the Teach Better Team and loves being a part of this family! Her motto is “Working together to better ourselves, each other, and the world around us.”