by Caroline Kinneberg

Personal connections make life meaningful. But when a problem arises, it can wipe the smile from your face. Here's how to build better relationships

Boost your bond with your husband

Back away from the BlackBerry.

If you're texting or emailing while talking to your husband, you're essentially saying that message is more important than him, says Dr. Dale Atkins, a New York City-based psychologist. Drop the gadget and focus on your partner. And make sure he does the same.

Boost your bond with your boss

Tweak your thinking.

You can't change your boss, but you can alter your reactions, says Atkins. If you get nervous talking to him or her, do a quick relaxation exercise before approaching. Breathe deeply, and practice a positive mind-state mantra. Say to yourself: "I'm anxious, but I'll get through this," instead of, "This is terrible; I know I'm going to trip over my words!"

Boost your bond with your sister

Create a new connection.

Adult siblings clash because of childhood roles, explains Atkins. Talk about life now -- discuss your respective hobbies, jobs and kids. If your sister launched a scrapbooking business, for instance, don't make fun of her just because she's Little Sis. Instead, ask her to share her vision with you.

Boost your bond with your kids

Explain your reasoning.

Avoid being critical or judgmental when asking children to do something, advises Atkins. Instead, tell them why a task is important to you. If your preteen won't clean her room, explain that cleaning her room helps her learn responsibility and pride.

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Relationships - "How to Build Better Relationships"