our everyday life

How to Be Nicer to Your Sister

by Amy Wright Glenn

You love your sister, you really do. However, few people can annoy or frustrate you as much as she can. Too often, your relationship with your sister is tense. During moments of stress, you say things you later regret. You know this needs to change, but how can you be nicer to her? By consciously nurturing a more positive relationship with your sister, you can build upon your biological connection and create a lifelong irreplaceable friendship.

Listen to Her

The first step toward nurturing a more positive relationship with your sister involves listening. Make space in your life to offer your attention to her. The gift of non-judgmental and compassionate attention is priceless. As family therapist Michelle Germain notes in a familycorner.com article, "The Key to Successful Relationships," it's important to avoid interrupting or offering quick advice when listening. Instead, set aside your own agenda and truly listen to your sister. Suggest that you go for a drive or a walk. Let her do most of the talking. If she asks for your point of view, share it kindly.

Compliment Her

All of us are a mixture of both positive and negative traits. If you hope to be nicer to your sister, take time to focus your attention on her positive qualities. No one likes to have their faults consistently examined. As the modern practice of positive psychology reveals, we all benefit when we focus on our strengths. Take time to praise your sister's strengths like creativity, kindness, courage and sense of humor. Compliment her positive influence in the world and in your life. Lift her up through a genuine expression of gratitude for her many positive strengths.

Surprise Her

A wonderful way of being nicer to your sister involves the element of surprise. Put a sticky note with a friendly hello in her school or work bag. Text her with a cheerful greeting. Surprise her with her favorite flowers or candy. Heartfelt expressions mixed in with the element of surprise will lift her spirits and strengthen your relationship. Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor with Caring.com, explains that such surprises will "count" more if they occur frequently rather than, say, once a year.

Plan a Special Activity

Perhaps your sister loves pottery, fly-fishing or photography. Maybe your sister is an avid reader or runner. In your effort to be nicer to her, plan a special activity focused around her interests. Is there a class at your local civic center you could take together? Is there a special exhibit at an art museum that you know she'd love to attend? Treat your sister to an evening out at her favorite restaurant or go see a film of her choosing together. Shared activities will bring you closer as you create lifelong positive memories.

Resources

  • Sisters Tenth Anniversary Edition; Caroline Saline and Sharon J. Wohlmuth

About the Author

Amy Wright Glenn holds a Master of Arts in religion and education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Glenn taught in the religion and philosophy department at The Lawrenceville School for over a decade. She is a birth doula, hospital chaplai, and author of "Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula."

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images