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5 Ways To Save A Failing Relationship That You Cherish

5 Ways To Save A Failing Relationship That You Cherish

You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you sense that it is over? Signs are popping up all over. A distant look in the eyes. Simple conversations become difficult often turning into looping arguments. Texts ignored. Your partner is pulling away. Panic sets in. We are failing. Question surfaces, “Is my relationship coming to an end?”

Relationships end for a variety of reasons. However, if your partner is leaving because of things you repeatedly do to push him/her away then it is important that you get a grip on yourself and change your pattern. This is not a quick fix solution.

As a relationship specialist, I work with couples on developing healthy patterns of connecting. Sometimes, individuals come to see me when the relationship is failing and they are looking for ways to save it. I offer these five ways to get your partner’s attention.

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1. Really listen and take seriously things your partner said that you previously ignored

“I wish I would have listened” is the lament I often hear from individuals who suffer a break-up in a relationship they cherished. People who do more talking than listening send the wrong message. It basically says, “I’m more important than you.” Maybe that’s not how you want to come across, but you will if you don’t show more interest.

If you want to save your failing relationship then open these three things: your eyes, your ears, and your heart.  Active listening involves all three. Eyes have to do with giving your mate your full attention. Look them in the eyes in a conversation. Listen without interrupting. Avoid using terms like, “Yes, but…”  Listening with your heart is showing empathy to your partner.  It communicates that you care.

2. Own the behavior you have been avoiding

One of the things that drives a partner away is unchecked negative behavior in a mate.  They feel stuck with someone who won’t own their behavior. It’s exhausting. Before long, they get tired of the pattern and want out.

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If you constantly make excuses for yourself, blame your partner, or make empty promises, then your relationship is in danger of failing. Wake up! Take a hard, long look in the mirror. You better start owning your behavior before he/she leaves you for good.

Owning behavior with your partner is a simple as saying, “You’re right, I tend to take my frustration out on you. It’s not fair to you. I need to be more aware of my actions.”

3. Rebuild trust by repairing hurt you caused by your actions

Relationships cannot survive on love. Trust is the foundation upon which all relationships are built. If you break trust with your partner, the relationship suffers. In order to rebuild trust you have to repair the hurt you inflicted on your mate. In my work with couples, I guide them through a 5 step process to repair hurt. For easy remembering the steps begin with the letter A.

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  1. Admit you are wrong.
  2. Accept responsibility for your behavior without excuses or blame.
  3. Acknowledge how your actions specifically hurt your partner.
  4. Ask for forgiveness.
  5. Agree to work on changing the behavior pattern.

4. Focus on the needs of your partner that you were neglecting

Neglect is an awful word in relationships. So is taking your mate for granted.  It communicates a negative sentiment. If you want to save a failing relationship you cherish then you need to focus on the needs of your partner. It cannot be about you all the time. Listen to her music. Go to his sporting event. Show a genuine interest in the things that matter to her/him. Learn your partner’s love language and speak it.

Focusing on your partner’s needs with genuine interest will send a message that they matter. A pattern of doing this likely get his/her attention. Don’t expect it to happen right away.

5. Be consistent with your words and actions

This sets apart the “gamechangers” from the “gametalkers”. Some talk a good game, but don’t back it up. Others finally get it and change from the heart. They are serious and want to preserve the relationship they cherish. They back up their words with action. This is done every day. Over time it becomes apparent their love is genuine.

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If you want to save a failing relationship you have to be willing to change your heart. Also, be prepared to work hard. This is not for the faint of heart. If you hurt your mate and damaged trust, it will take time and consistency to build it back. If you truly love this person then you can do it!

Featured photo credit: Dollar Photo via dollarphotoclub.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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