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3 Relationship “Truths” That Are Actually Dangerous Lies

3 Relationship “Truths” That Are Actually Dangerous Lies

Do you hear that?

It’s the sound of another good relationship breathing it’s dying breath. And your relationship could be next. People everywhere are believing popular advice that’s killing their relationships. Thankfully, you can protect yourself with a few changes in your thinking. If you’re ready to give your relationship a fighting chance, read on. These three dangerous but common lies get passed off as wisdom online and in-print.

Lie #1: Love yourself and everything else will fall into place

The lie is that you need to focus more on loving yourself in order to love others well and attract good things into your life.

The truth is there is no lack of self-love in our world. You don’t lack self-love and neither do I . The idea of loving your neighbour as yourself is not a directive to love yourself more. If our relationships are going to work, we actually have to focus less on ourselves. We need to be others-focused. The concept is simple but is hard for many to comprehend because it involves changing your way of thinking. Think about it — even when you are focused on your own inadequacies, you’re still focused on and loving yourself (in a way).

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The flip side of lesson number one – the truth that actually works – is: Focus on providing the best relationship for your spouse that you can. This doesn’t mean you should be a martyr. Sometimes, loving someone well means letting them see that being self-centered doesn’t make them happy either.

Lie #2: Confront your problems

The lie is that problems get solved by talking about them at all times. The lie teaches you that you should learn conflict resolution skills and improve your ability to tell your spouse what you’re unhappy with.

On the other side of the lie is the truth — “You have to make 1000 positive deposits into your spouse’s bank account before you can make one negative comment or criticism.” That means, if you’re fighting all the time, you likely don’t have the credit with your spouse to be commenting on things you don’t like.

If I’m doing 1000 (give or take) nice, caring things for my spouse before telling him that I don’t like one thing that he’s doing, I’m betting he will be a happier man.I’m betting that a happier man will do nicer things.

Here’s the truth; the flip side of lesson number two: You reap what you sow. If you want care and kindness to grow, you have to do things that sow care and kindness.

It’s really easy for me to forget the truth that I reap what I sow. Sometimes, I find myself operating on the ‘You reap what you tell your spouse needs to change about them’ principle.

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Yup. That works as well as you think it would.

There are people, though, who have made whole careers out of telling couples to set their marriage problems aside and put their energy into trying to connect. They teach to build goodwill and top up your relationship bank accounts before dealing with your problems. Here’s the best part: a bunch of your problems will go away on their own if you’re sowing good things into your spouse’s life.

Lie #3: Follow your heart

Conventional wisdom says to follow your heart, meaning decide based on how you feel. But that is just wrong because feelings are not your operating manual.

In fact, feelings are reactions to past situations more than reflections of your value system. Are you sure you want to make major life decisions based on a past heartbreak?  Or would you rather decide based on what you want to create in your future? Following your heart actually makes you a victim of your emotions.

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Instead of giving in to emotions and following your heart as it leads you to disaster, seek wisdom from sources you can trust. Allow your brain to absorb whatever information you are taking in before you react and then make a wise choice after considering your options.

So the flip side of lie number three – the truth that really works – is to use your instinct and intellect to rationally make decisions based on what you know, not what you feel.

The best relationship test ever

I dug up a blog article called The List that Saved My Marriage where author Becky Zerbe’s Mom hits a marriage advice homerun. In short, the author had decided her marriage was over and went to her parents for support. While committing to support her daughter, the mom asked her to complete one exercise first.

She said to take a blank piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. On the left, she was to write all bad things about her husband; the reasons she wanted to leave. The wife easily completed the list.

Then, the mom told her daughter to write her own corresponding behaviors on the right side of the page. For example, next to the complaint that “He doesn’t tell me when he’s going to be late home from work” the wife had to write, “I sulk and give him the silent treatment”. Finally, the mom took the paper, cut it down the middle and threw away the list of her son-in-law’s failings. Handing her daughter’s list of behaviors back to her, she sent her home to reconsider.

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I would fail

How would you fare if you had to consider an honest list of how you’ve handled yourself in your marriage? Would you feel as ready to give up on your relationship? I know I would be humbled. Consider your own behaviors and weed out the relationship lies from your thinking. Instead, replace them with truths that lead you toward trust, love, and honesty.

Featured photo credit: IMG_5060-Editar_mini/Nicolas Fuentes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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