Helpful Hints on Improving Relationships

Here are some random thoughts on improving relationships:

Logic prompts people to think, but emotion prompts them to act. Communicate on both levels.

Focus on the behavior or comment that prompted upsetting or negative feelings—rather than on the person.

Share your feelings about the effects of what someone does or says. It’s healthy and aids relationships to say, “That comment really hurt me.” If you don’t tell the person what is bothering you, you may not fix what really is just a misunderstanding.

Don’t universalize a specific. If another person acted rudely, that doesn’t make the person an ogre for a lifetime.

Describe breakdowns as “mutual” difficulties or challenges, rather than as something inflicted upon you by another person.

Much anger expressed maliciously is actually self-anger, which is being transferred to protect one’s own self-image. In this regard, one of my favorite questions as a classroom teacher was, “Are you angry with me or with the situation?” The question immediately prompted reflection and often resulted in an apology.

On occasion, let silence reign. These can be healthy periods for reflection. Resist the temptation to think of silence as a means to infuriate you.

Break tension through a nice, minor gesture. Offer something to drink, a kind word, a pleasant mutual memory, or something to momentarily redirect attention.

Ask for the other person’s help. It is a rare situation when you will ask someone (especially a younger person) for assistance and receive a negative response. Preface the request by saying, “I need your help on this.”

An adult can discipline a young person while still keeping good relationships when Discipline Without Stress is used.