A study by Relationships Scotland Relate has found that outside of London, people in Scotland were the least likely to report having good relationships with their neighbours.
The You’re Not Alone report also looked at friendships and discovered one in seven Scottish residents say they have no close friends.
Commenting on the findings, John Dougan of Relationships Scotland Dumfries and Galloway, said: “In this report we are reminded that it is not just our close romantic and family relationships that matter, but also our connections with our friends, neighbours and communities. Social isolation remains a major concern for people in the UK today.
“This report challenges us all to do more. By prioritising actions that lead to greater and more meaningful connections between people we can tackle the causes of loneliness and social isolation across the UK and enable as many people as possible to lead the full lives that they deserve.”
And he has drawn up five tips for improving your social relationships, John said:
1. Show an interest in others
Too often, when we meet someone new, we listen just long enough until we think of something we want to say. Really listening means asking follow up questions which deepen the conversation. But, if you feel the chat is becoming one sided, don’t be afraid to say: “Now, what do you want to know about me?”
2. Try to be more tolerant
All relationships go through low periods. But when we also feel low, we can get stuck in feeling that no one likes us and no one cares. Push through the negativity and try to find a way of reconnecting with friends and neighbours, even if there has been some bad feeling. Don’t let it fester. Think ‘if now isn’t the time to forgive and forget, when will be?”
3. Don’t be a phone zombie
We can lose the gift of friendship because we are continually burying ourselves in screens, and are not fully present. Turn off those phones and devices for a few hours and see what it’s like to be in the moment of now, smiling and making contact with people as you walk around your neighbourhood. Offer help if you see someone struggling with shopping or children. Notice how good you feel about getting involved.
4. Something new
Deepen friendships and contacts by suggesting new outings or new ideas. Whether it’s a gig, a new exercise class or a book club, be brave and try something you’ve not done before.
5. Perseverance brings satisfaction
When we first try something new, we often give up at an early stage because we don’t see immediate or amazing results. This can also be true of trying to deepen or improve the quality of relationships. Don’t give up too quickly or get downhearted. Just keep doing the best you can and you will see results.