Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., Oct. 1
- Community Blog
- Better Communication, Better Relationships
6 Strategies to improve your relationships
Have you asked yourself what can you do to improve your relationship with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, your children or your parents? Or maybe you are interested in improving your professional relationships with your clients, employees, boss, business partners or coworkers. It’s simple. Just don’t stop making deposits in the emotional account you have with each one of them. What do I mean by this? Stephen Covey in his book The 7 habits of highly effective people uses this metaphor making reference to a bank account where you can make deposits and withdrawals, identifying deposits with gestures and behaviors that win others respect and confidence in us; and indentifying withdrawals with the opposite conducts, those that cause people not to trust us nor respect us. When we have a good balance in our emotional bank account with someone in particular, be it our significant other or a friend, communication comes more easily and natural and the atmosphere is of trust and honesty. When we don’t have a good balance, we need to measure every word we speak, we need to be careful with everything we say, and we become too political. Sadly, this happens in a lot of marriages, families and organizations, says Covey.
We can increase our reserves by courteous gestures, honesty and kindness. This will help when we need to make a withdrawal, that is, when we make a mistake and we offend or hurt our friends, spouse or children in some way. If our reserves have no funds, the damage we do will be much harder to fix.
Stephen Covey suggests six main types of deposits to create an emotional bank account:
- Understand the individual.
It is the most important. You need to know what the other person likes and dislikes. It means that when you do something for that other person, it is something that the person actually likes and enjoys. Let´s say you love football, and because you love it you think everybody should, so you take your teenage son (who doesn’t like football at all –amazing, but possible) to a game. It is highly probable he will not enjoy the moment, so this will not mean you are bonding or doing a deposit. It will mean a withdrawal from your emotional bank account with your son. Remember “what is important to the other person should be as important to you as that person.” So what does your son love to do?
- Pay attention to small things.
Small things are actually not that small. Little acts of kindness and courtesy will go a long way. These are enormous deposits; which on the other hand, small acts of disrespect, inconsideration and discourtesy are large withdrawals.
- Keep our promises.
It is that simple. Do not make promises you are not sure of keeping. Our word is gold. Do not go around wasting it foolishly, so when we have no option but to break a promise, we will have a good reserve in our accounts to back us up.
- Clarifying expectations.
We are not mind readers. Who says he or she is usually has a TV show or works in a circus. Then, why do the rest of us mortals expect so many times for other people to know in advance our wants, likes, dislikes and desires: expectations. We assume the other person is thinking what we are thinking. Nothing is farther from the truth. Our wife does not know, our boss, our children, our customers, our friends, employees do not know what we expect in each given situation unless we tell them explicitly, with words, verbally or written. Moral: state your expectations explicitly in every situation important to you or to someone that is important to you. You will save youself a lot of headaches.
- Personal integrity
Being a person of one piece, that is all there is to it. Creating that trust in other people that they can rely on you not to betray them or back stab them. Without trust, your kindness and courtesy become hallow. So stay away from the gossip and do not talk bad of the people not present, just to mention a couple of tips.
- Know how to apologize when needed.
We are human, so we make mistakes. We can hurt of offend others, not necessarily being it our intention. So it is important to know how to say we are sorry promptly. When we do not do it this way we risk letting resentment be built against us, which represents large withdrawals. A relationship is just not the same when resentment is in between. So we need to say “I am sorry” promptly and sincerely.
In conclusion, how well do you know those persons you want to better your relationship with? Do you know what moves them? Do you pay attention to small things? Or is it easy for you to be inconsiderate, rude or not to listen? Are you a person of your word or do you easily break promises? Are you clear on your expectations in a given situation? Are you a one piece persona? Do you know how to say "I'm sorry"? And most important, do you constantly make deposits to your emotional bank accounts?
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