Want Better Relationships? Do Less

We all want better relationships, whether it’s with a spouse/partner, parent, friend, child, or co-worker. In an attempt to make the relationship better, many people mistakenly do more of the wrong things.

If you’re not sure what the “wrong things” are, answer these questions:


  • How do you feel when someone criticizes you?
  • How do you feel when someone blames you?
  • How do you feel when someone complains to you?
  • How do you feel when someone nags you?
  • How do you feel when someone threatens to do something to you?
  • How do you feel when someone punishes you?
  • How do you feel when someone offers you a bribe to do something?

Yes, criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing are the common ways we interact with others. Even if you don’t do every single one of them, chances are high you do a few on a regular basis. But none of these approaches will prompt change in the other person or help you create better relationships. In fact, just the opposite will occur! That’s why you need to do them less.

Remember that people interact at an emotional level just as much as they do on an intellectual level. We all know we should or should not do things, but it is only when our emotions kick in that we are prompted to act.

Rarely will we want to do something when we feel bad about doing it. People of all ages do better when they feel better. In short, using any of the approaches above destroys relationships and results in resistance, which leads to disconnection. Using any of these approaches is NOT a good way to build better relationships.

The Keys to Better Relationships

So what should you do instead? Practice the three principles of positivity, choice, and reflection.

  • Positivity: People do good when they feel good, not when they feel bad.
  • Choice: Simply stated, people do not argue with their own decisions.
  • Reflection: Asking reflective questions is the most effective approach to prompt change.

Each of these principles is detailed in my books.

Tip: Building better relationships is indeed possible. Simply do less of the negative and more of the positive. It takes work to change old habits, but you’ll quickly discover that the results are worth it.