Relationships

How to Improve a Strained Relationship

We all have experienced a strained relationship from time to time. Whether it was with a spouse, child, or co-worker, dealing with a strained relationship can be a challenge. Taking the time to fix a strained relationship takes courage and finesse. Here are three suggestions for improving strained relationships with youth and adults alike.

 

  • Give affirmations

A simple acknowledgement can have dramatic results. This is especially important with young people. They want to assert their independence and autonomy. Just acknowledging that you have heard their point of view, regardless of agreement, can have a profound effect on how your growing young one feels about the relationship. For adults, an affirmation, such as “I see your point and understand where … >>>

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7 Tips to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Spouse

Your relationship with your spouse or significant other should be one of happiness and understanding.  But sometimes it can be stressful. Learning how to strengthen your relationship with your spouse will do wonders for not only your marriage, but also your stress level in general.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when dealing with a spouse, significant other, or social partner.

1. Recognize that you can only control your own behavior. The more you try to control someone else, the less likely it is that the person will do what you want.

2. Differences in perceptions, opinions, needs, and wants need to be respected. The most effective way to accomplish this is to clarify your position rather … >>>

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How to Say No Positively

Sometimes in life you have to say no to others. While most people dislike saying no, it really is an important life skill to learn. Failure to say no to others can often lead to stress, overwhelm, and unhappiness.

In my books, speeches, and professional work, I stress the importance of positivity. But saying no to others feels so negative. The word itself is certainly not positive. And the feeling it leaves after a conversation can sometimes feel negative. So how can you say no to others without actually saying the word “no”? How can you protect your time, your feelings, and your needs while keeping the relationship positive?

Here is a simple four-step process to say no positively:

1. … >>>

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Influence Others to Succeed

When it comes to having an influence on others, it’s not only what you say, but also how you say it, as well as all the things you don’t say.

Words can be extremely powerful and influential. Every word spoken to another, especially a child, carries with it an underlying message about the person and his or her relationship to the world.

It’s the same for the non-verbal messages you give. Everything you do without using words can influence the other person and cause a response, whether positive or negative.

Once the other person internalizes a message, it becomes a belief that can affect many aspects of their life. Knowing this, you can certainly influence students to operate on Level … >>>

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Your Words are Powerful

Your words are powerful. In fact, I often say that people do good when they feel good. This is true of adults and children. Children who act on Levels C and D of the Levels of Development chart feel good. While those who act on Levels A and B have more negative feelings. What are you doing to help others do good? Is your language uplifting others? Or are your words bringing people down?

Yes, your words are powerful and what you say often has a big impact on others. While many people don’t intentionally say outright mean or nasty things to others, they may use other subtle words or sentence patterns that disempower others.

Your Words Matter

The great … >>>

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The Secret to Resolving Relationship Stress

cartoon image of two people arguing

Relationship stress is a common problem. The relationship can be between two adults, two children, and even between an adult and a child. The quickest and best way to ease relationship stress is NOT to try to change the other person. Instead, change something about yourself first.

If you are convinced that another person is wrong and they are the source of the stress, there is always the chance it could just be a case of “mistaken certainty.” Or, perhaps, the two of you just have significantly different belief systems. Or, perhaps, it could be the case that “I know you believe you think you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what … >>>

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3 Tips for Less Stressful Relationships

Image of two cartoon figures high fiving

Of all the things that cause stress in people’s lives, relationships rank high on the list. Whether it’s between adults, family, friends, or children, relationship challenges are inevitable.

Here are three tips for significantly improving relationships and making them less stressful.

1. Give Affirmations

A simple acknowledgement can have dramatic results. This is especially important with young people. They want to assert their independence and autonomy. Just acknowledging that you have HEARD their point of view, regardless of agreement, can have a profound effect on how your growing young one feels about the relationship.

2. Use quality listening time.

Quality time is quality-driven, not necessarily quantity-driven. Simply give your full attention to the person speaking. By using eye contact, a … >>>

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Empower Youth to Overcome Challenges

Image of an adult holding a child's hand

If you want to help children overcome challenges, then personal connections are the key. In fact, strong relationships can curb almost any problem. Letting people know you care is the most important thing you can communicate.

Here are two questions to ask yourself—especially when working with young people:

1) Does the person feel safe with me no matter what happens?

2) Have I used kind and encouraging words in my relationship with the person?

Unfortunately, when it comes to discipline and helping youth overcome challenges, many adults use counter-productive approaches. In an attempt to discipline or “mold the youth,” they enforce rules. But if a child breaks a rule, what is the parent’s natural tendency? Response: to enforce the rule … >>>

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Positive People are More Likable

Image of two happy women high-fiving

Positive people are more likable. Think about the people in your life. Do your favorite people tend to be positive or negative? My guess is that they are the more positive people you associate with.

The fact is that you will be more likable to others when you focus on being positive.

When I was young, my mother often told me that if I can’t say something nice about a person, then don’t say anything at all.

This is great advice, not only for your communications with others, but also with yourself. In other words, if you can’t say (or think) something nice about yourself, then don’t say (or think) anything at all. Instead, exert discipline to turn your thoughts … >>>

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Make Relationships Less Stressful

Image of two paper cutouts of people high-fiving. Positive Relationships.

Do you think society, including relationships, has become more stressful or less stressful over the years? Most people think it’s more stressful today than it was just a decade ago. One of the factors contributing to the stress is the rate of change everyone and everything is going through.

A number of factors have changed society over the years, not the least of which is technology. Unfortunately, however, technology has not helped to improve relationships. In fact, in far too many situations technology has actually hindered relationships, leading to increased stress levels. As a result, people continue to use ineffective approaches—mainly coercion—to influence others.

Here are two former American giants who made the point that coercion is ineffective.

Benjamin Franklin … >>>

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Classroom Rules are Counterproductive

Image of a school room

Classroom rules are counterproductive and prompt stress between adults and young people. This is because rules place the adult in an adversarial relationship. Relying on rules is coercive and promotes obedience rather than responsibility.

The reason is simple. If a student breaks a rule, our tendency is to enforce the rule. The assumption is that if the rule is not enforced, people will take advantage of it. Therefore, in order to remain in control, we must enforce all rules.

Rules are essential in games. But in relationships, reliance on rules is counterproductive because the enforcement mentality automatically creates adversarial relationships. Enforcing rules too often promotes power struggles that rarely result in win-win situations.

Rules aim at obedience. But obedience does … >>>

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Reduce Negative Feelings in Relationships

Image of four cartoon faces ranging from sad to happy

When you alienate others, you prompt negative feelings in them. Have you ever had the experience of wanting to buy something, but the salesperson alienated you? Perhaps you were turned off so much that you did not buy from that person—even though you really wanted the item. That’s how strong the negative feelings can be.

Every successful salesperson knows not to alienate the customer. However, too often we talk to people in ways that prompt negative feelings, which alienate and often promotes stress. Negative feelings stop any DESIRE to do what you would like other people to do. People do good when they feel good—not when they feel bad or when they feel coerced.

Why Telling Prompts Negative Feelings

Quite … >>>

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What to Do Instead of Saying NO

Image of the word "No" with a red line through it

Saying NO to others is common. Have you ever had to say “no” to a person? Of course you have. We all have.

“No” is one of the shortest words in the English language. However, its constant use can prompt some of the biggest challenges in family and in other relationships.

“No” is a negative word. How did you feel that last time someone said “no” to you? Chances are you felt sad, deflated, or maybe even angry. When you ask for something and hear “no,” it’s common to feel negativity.

The negative response not only may prompt stress for the receiver of the comment, but it can also prompt negative feelings and some stress for the person giving the … >>>

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Are You a Good Listener?

Image of a hand cupping an ear to listen.

Being a good listener is one of the keys to having strong relationships. If you’re not a good listener, chances are that many of the relationships in your life are strained.

Think about this: If you ask yourself how you know someone cares for you, one of your responses is likely to be that you know because the person listens to you. Ask a husband about a good wife, and he is likely to say that he knows his wife cares for him because she listens to what he has to say. Ask a wife about a good husband, and she’ll respond that he listens to her.

Even if we are saying something that is not really worth listening to, … >>>

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An Easy Way to Reduce Conflict and Stress in Relationships

Image of a brown teddy bear and a beige teddy beat sitting back-to-back, as if in conflict against each other.

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, no two children (or adults for that matter) are the same. Each individual, young or old, views the world differently, interacts with others in a distinctive way, and processes information uniquely.

Differences are good. It would be boring if everyone acted, behaved, and thought the same way. But sometimes, interacting with people who are vastly different from you (as with many parent/child relationships) can be stressful.

Noticing behavioral styles among people is nothing new. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the first to categorize behavioral styles. Jung postulated that every individual develops a primacy in one of four major behavioral functions: intuiting, thinking, feeling, and sensing. If you and your child operate from different behavioral styles, … >>>

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The Secret to Stress-Free Relationships

Image of a question mark made up of question words like "who,'" "what'" "when," "how," and "why."

A number of experts in sales emphasize the importance of building relationships for achieving success. Such an approach also makes interactions with others less stressful.

Here is a classic from Ed Oakley’s “Enlightened Leadership.”

There is a famous story about a life insurance company. The salespeople went through the training program and were very successful for about 18 months. After 18 months, their sales dropped off.

The company made quite an intensive investigation as to the reason. They found that the people followed the training approach of the company, which was to ask questions. Using this approach, the salespeople not only got to know financial problems and concerns, but also something about the people themselves. The questioning approach led to … >>>

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Personality and Stress Management

Personality and Stress Management

One of the best stress management tips for parents and teachers is to understand how personality affects behavior. When you know this, you can better manage your relationships with your children and students, and thus reduce your stress.

In my all three of my books (available here), I lay out the personality styles of thinker, feeler, doer, and relater. An image of a directional scale will help you picture and remember the styles. Visualize a thinker in the north, a feeler in the south, a doer in the west, and a relater in the east. In short, a thinker (north) analyzes and can be described as someone who processes information using a great deal of thought. A feeler (south) … >>>

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Charisma and Stress-Free Relationships

Charisma and Stress-Free Relationships

Cultivating stress-free relationships in your life takes time and practice. One tool that enables such relationships to grow is charisma. However, most people, including heads of state, chief executives, parents, teachers, and other leaders, are not born with the power to inspire.

For much of human history leaders have been depicted as having various characteristics. The topic has been of interest to me since my masters’ thesis included a study of leadership characteristics.

Leadership is now commonly defined as a social process, as opposed to a trait, that enables a person to motivate others to help achieve group goals. Having this trait often has a side benefit of fostering stress-free relationships.

Leaders often have some kind of charisma by using … >>>

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