By Georgianna Donadio, PhD – Given the ever growing demands of our daily lives, it becomes very easy to overlook the “care and feeding” of our intimate, family and long-term relationships. Relationships have been shown to have a significant impact on our health, happiness and longevity; taking care of them and keeping up on their maintenance are essential.
Taking the time to have a “tune-up” for your important relationships is worth the effort. Here are some simple but important interpersonal behaviors that will help tune up your relationships and add to the fulfillment and satisfaction you desire from them:
Conflict resolution: Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but the ways we handle and respond to it are not. Some of us try to avoid dealing with conflict, while others want to immediately resolve things head-on.
Instead of trying to avoid conflict, it can be constructive to objectively write down our thoughts and feelings. We can share them with the other person in a way that expresses how we feel and in a style that makes us comfortable, possibly in a letter, greeting card or email.
For those of us who tackle conflict head-on, it can be helpful to take a step back and discern if this issue is something that must be resolved immediately or whether we can give ourselves time to process what has occurred, allowing us to see the conflict from the other person’s perspective.
Respecting the others person’s experience of the conflict: Respecting your partner’s or friend’s experience of a particular conflict doesn’t mean you “go along to get along” or that you should not express your own experience or feelings about it. It does mean that you respect and consider the other individual’s unique experience of what has occurred and that he wants to be seen, heard and valued just as much as you do.
By being open to accepting what the other person is feeling and what he has experienced, you send the message that you sincerely care about his feelings. And, while you may not agree with those feelings, you bring integrity to the relationship that allows the other person to be who he is and express feelings in a safe and non-hostile environment.
Learn New Communication Skills
Lack of effective communication is a leading cause of divorce and the breakdown of relationships between parents and children, as well as between employers and employees. There is no doubt that communication in all types of relationships can make or break them, but changing how we relate to one another is easier said than done. This difficulty stems from inherited or past communication patterns that can quickly lead to hurt feelings or emotional disconnection.
What’s more, most people don’t have the knowledge, skills or the time to invest in changing how they behave. Learn new skills to enhance your relationships and watch them flourish! For a free download on how to improve your communication skills visit www.changingbehavior.org.
Would You Rather Be Right Or Be Loved?
An important question to ask when we dealing with conflict in a significant relationship is: Would you rather be right or be loved? This simple litmus test can help reveal a balance and a win-win situation for both the parties in a conflict. It also allows us to reflect on what is important in both our life and in our relationships.