Our closest relationships can be our most challenging relationships. You may be experiencing a stressful relationship with your child, parent, spouse, partner or your best friend right now. If so, you’ll want to keep reading.
Over a lifetime some relationships are close, intimate and long-term. Others may be casual or temporary – like coworkers and neighbors. We don’t need experts to tell us that our most challenging relationships are most likely with the people we live with or interact with on a daily basis. Honestly, we know that we would never treat acquaintances like we have treated family members. We’d not roll our eyes at neighbors or use the same sharp tone of voice that we reserve for children and significant others. Somehow we have given ourselves permission to react to family and close friends with a critical voice, demeaning looks and hurtful words.
If you don’t like the way you react to others when frustrated, I can assure you that there are seeds you can plant for change. There are seven initial seeds or steps that can lead to a more pleasurable relationship.
First, ask yourself what qualities you want to experience in your close relationship. For example:
Mutual Problem Solving
Recognizing that all change begins with you. Decide when you’re going to start learning and practicing these new techniques until they become second nature to you. This change is a process and not a one-time event.
Which relationship is your most challenging at this time? (insert name) Start with this! Trust that the process will flow from day to day, as you maintain your commitment to allow positive change to evolve.
Day 1 Intention:
Declare your intention to have an improved relationship with (insert name). Trust that the process will flow in right order from one day to the next, as you allow positive change to evolve. When tempted to criticize, take a conscious deep breath and refrain from criticism. Yes, this may be a new behavior for you, but you will find that your intention, your breath and your restraint will be so worth it in the long run. Baby steps are the starter steps to success.
Days 2/3 Awareness:
Take two days to notice and reflect on this person’s specific, admirable qualities. Jot them down on paper or in your phone. Remember past or present examples of where they have displayed those qualities.
Day 4 Recognition:
When the atmosphere is calm, on the fourth day, find that right time to casually mention one of those positive traits directly and specifically to that person. Example: “I noticed that you were helpful/thoughtful/careful/ etc. today when you _________________.”
Day 5 Gratitude:
On the fifth day, begin to find things for which you can honestly say, “Thank you.” You write them an appreciation post-a-note. Sometimes a note left on their desk, pillow, car or lunchbox is a significant way to acknowledge the positive qualities that you are noticing. Be creative and use pictures/drawings for younger ones.
Day 6 Safety:
Be courageous. Ask this person privately to share with you what has been upsetting lately, and how they see that you’ve contributed to the situation. Do not defend yourself in any way. Make this a totally safe listening experience. Your only response will be, “I appreciate that you felt safe enough to tell me this.” Then feel safe as you ponder what you heard.
Day 7 Attention:
Appropriate timing is essential for each step, but even more so, for step seven. At this point you want to ask if he/she would be open to working with you to find a way to resolve the tension or disagreement. Step Seven is where you give your full attention to your intention: to relieve the tension between the two of you, to set the transformation process in motion.
This is a skill set that you can learn and use in a variety of situations, with different people of different ages. Transforming any relationship begins with these seven steps used as a starter over a seven day period.
The old saying, “Practice makes perfect” isn’t always true, but patience along with practice does lead to significant success. Give it a week and notice the changes. Then share with me where you are on-track to fulfilling your desire for a transformed relationship.
Applying the Tool Kit,
P. S. Your first personalized 45-minute Discovery Coaching Session is Free! Just contact me to set a time at Barbara@BarbaraHribar.com!