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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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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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