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6 Golden Rules For Strong Relationships That Are Backed By Science

6 Golden Rules For Strong Relationships That Are Backed By Science

Love is perhaps the most studied – and yet, still the most confusing – of human emotions. It is not surprising that scientists have yet to concoct a love potion. However, one important thing that scientists have done is provide helpful tips, backed by scientific studies, to improve our chances of finding true love and build strong and lasting relationships.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a new relationship or if you consider yourself an expert in relationships, the following scientifically proven rules for building strong romantic relationships may come in handy.

Keep in mind that there is a distinction between romantic love, which can endure, and passionate or obsessive love, which often fades after the beginning of a relationship.

1. Cultivate positive thoughts about your partner

Scientists have found that having positive thoughts about your partner is vital in relationships. When you focus on the good in your partner’s personal qualities and character, it strengthens your relationship.

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Bianca Acevedo, Ph.D. and author of a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara, noted that couples in good relationships engage in “positive sentiment override.” That means they remember more of the favorable than the unfavorable experiences they’ve shared together, and also give each other the benefit of the doubt.

These couples seem to be able to resolve conflicts better because they don’t dwell on things that bother them. Ruminating about these things can only lead you to magnify the small foibles which will make your partner even more irritating to you.

2. Express your affection to your partner physically

Feeling love and affection toward your partner is important, but so is expressing that love and affection in physical ways. Studies suggest it’s not wise to play hard to get when your goal is to build the passion in your relationship.

Expressions of affection don’t have to be overly gushy or elaborate at all. A kiss on the cheek or touch on the shoulder is often enough to build intensity in your relationship. Similarly, in secure, long-term relationships, having more sex is often a positive expression of love’s intensity.

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Researchers Michelle Russell and James McNulty of the University of Tennessee say frequent sex could be the answer to maintain feelings of love and happiness that endure over time.

Even if the sex isn’t good now, keep it up. Other studies indicate sex may get better with age, despite a lower sex drive.

3. Talk with your partner face-to-face

You probably already know that communication is a vital component that determines the quality of any relationship. But, did you know that the method in which you communicate is also critical to the quality of your relationship?

Scientists have found that couples who talk face-to-face are more likely to stay together. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that women are generally happier the more they communicate with their partners face-to-face.

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Calling, texting, Skyping, and the like are OK, but communicating via electronic means does not correlate with greater relationship satisfaction. For stronger and more satisfying relationships, have more face-to-face conversations with your partner.

4. Explore novel and challenging activities together

Spending time with your partner is important, but studies show it’s how you spend your time together that influences your relationship satisfaction most.

Psychologist Arthur Aron, Ph.D. and collaborator in a study reported in the prestigious journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that couples can improve their love for each other when they spend their time together exploring new and challenging activities. The study identified this factor as especially relevant for men.

So, if you’re going to go bungee jumping for the first time, researchers say your relationship will benefit when you and your partner face this challenge together. On the other hand, if you’re not up to bungee jumping, seek out mentally challenging ways to spice up your daily routines.

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5. Give each other space — but not too much

No matter how much you adore each other, every couple needs a little elbow room. It’s best to understand each other and how much space you both require in a relationship, and to give each other that space.

Giving your partner too little space and smothering them in the relationship is just as bad as giving them too much space and coming across as distant. In fact, a 2013 study published in the journal Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin found that if a partner wants more closeness than what they get in a relationship, they are more likely to be unhappy. This leads them to think about breaking up more, and they tend to feel depressed.

6. Maintain other passions outside of the relationship

This may sound counterproductive, but don’t give up on your passions just yet. People who approach their daily lives with zest and strong emotion seem to carry these intense feelings over to their love life as well, according to the findings of the study collaborated by Arthur Aron.

Your brain’s reward centers respond similarly to love as to getting excited about your other interests and passions. So, if you want your relationship to have passion, put that emotional energy to work in your hobbies, interests, and even political activities. Getting “fired up” in these areas of life translates into firing up the feelings you have toward your partner. The study found this rule seems have more impact for men.

Remember, the formula for keeping love alive isn’t always straightforward. But, by making conscious changes in thought and behavior, you can boost your relationship and keep it fresh and vital for years.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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