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You’ll Go Through These 6 Stages In A Long-Term Relationship

You’ll Go Through These 6 Stages In A Long-Term Relationship

All relationships begin differently. Every couple has their own story. Maybe you were friends for years before you started dating. Or maybe the two of you connected by swiping right on the infamous dating, Tinder. Successful relationships can stem from a number of different instances and they all follow their own particular path. Still, there is a common pattern of stages that almost all long-term relationships follow.

These stages are categorized by the things you’ll say while you’re in them.

Many of them are positive, filled with infatuation and enthusiasm. These stages usually occur at the beginning of a relationship, when you just can’t get enough of each other. The later stages require the most time and attention, whether it’s with your partner or with other people in your life that your relationship has caused you to neglect.

It’s important to acknowledge which stage you’re in (especially during the tougher ones) and to understand that they are all normal.

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1.The “I Told My Friends About You” Stage

As soon as you tell your friends about the girl you’ve been seeing (or hooking up with), and then go back and tell that girl that you told your friends about her, that’s when you know things are getting serious.

This is also known as the infatuation stage, in which you find yourself bringing them up during random conversations. You find yourself wanting to see them on your lunch breaks or at ridiculous hours of the night. This is also the stage when your friends might complain about how you’re spending your time. People in your life will start to miss you, but will hopefully be supportive of your newfound happiness, and wish to be involved.

2.The “I Want You to Meet My Parents” Stage.

Meeting the family is usually a big deal in a relationship. It’s a subconscious way of welcoming that person into our lives and making sure they fit. This stage comes along with a sense of comfort. You’re comfortable enough to introduce them, and know that they will be comfortable enough to be introduced (without feeling freaked out or pressured), to the people who matter to you most.

It also means that you want to seek validation that you’re with the right person. You’re interested in gaining the approval of the people whose opinion you value.  While this stage is often a joyful experience, it can also spark a lot of anxiety for all parties involved. If you’re experiencing stress, it just means that you want it to go well.

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If you’re lucky, and have found the right person, your family and friends will approve and be both loving and supportive.

3. The “I Love You” Stage.

It’s difficult to put a timeframe on this stage since we all experience love differently. It takes some people a lot of time to get there, while others throw the word around carelessly. My suggestion for this stage is to draw it out as long as possible. Don’t drop the “L” bomb the first time you feel it. Waiting to say, “I love you” will only make it mean more when you finally do.

4.The “It Bothers Me When You…” Stage.

For me personally, this stage has always occurred about nine months into the relationship. At this point, you’ve had enough time together to see that, as much as you hoped, your partner isn’t perfect. (Nobody is…not even including you…) It might be the first time they’ve displayed jealous or a lack of patience, or they’ve said something you don’t agree with.

If you find yourself in this predicament, it is absolutely critical that you address it. Right now! Before you go and vent to all your friends about it and self-sabotage the entire relationship. Most concerns, at this point in the game, are minor and only become larger if you ignore them.

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Communication is crucial. You have to realize that, although you work well together, you are still different people. And that’s OK. Can you accept or learn to appreciate these imperfections? If the answer is yes, you should be able to navigate smoothly in and out of this stage into the next one in your relationship.

5. The “What Do You Want?” Stage.

This stage occurs after a year, or multiple years of being together. It’s when you find out if your goals match up. It’s when you start considering moving in together. It’s when you start discussing a future together and deciding if your desires in life coincide.

This the most pivotal stage of a long-term relationship. It will make or break you. Communication and absolute honesty is key when you are addressing the future. This is not the time to sugarcoat or lie about anything. If you do, you’ll likely find yourself unsatisfied in the future.

6.The “I Want That Too” Stage, also known as the “I Still Love You” Stage.

This is the most fulfilling stage of all. If you have reached it, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

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Long-term relationships are not easy. Just look at the increase of divorces every year. We are all different, and we live in a time of social media and online dating. Many relationships are destined to fail from the get-go, but long-term relationships are not impossible. Figure out what it is you want out of life, and then find someone who wants the same thing.

Once you’ve found them, learn their imperfections, and if you still love them at the end of the day, don’t let go.

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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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