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10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

10 Small Habits That Help You Maintain A Long-Lasting Relationship

Relationships are hard work. In the beginning, love flows freely between two people. Your every move is symbiotic, your bodies fit perfectly together, and you finish each other’s sentences. However, as time goes by, the space between you grows wider. Your bodies are back to back. You’re living in different worlds under the same roof.

Your busy life keeps you active all day. Your relationships with co-workers are more intimate than with your partner. Lunch dates are longer and happy hours more frequent. You’re so busy texting that you can’t remember the last meaningful conversation you had. When was the last time you laughed together in bed without your phones?

Soon, you doubt your love. Your eyes start to wander. You’re choosing your daily outfits based on what your co-workers will think. Your partner’s desires and needs are at the bottom of your to-do list. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of commitment, nourishment, and care; you can keep your love as warm and cozy as it was in the beginnning. In fact, the longer you’re together, the stronger your love is.

You can keep your spark ignited by doing things differently. Your love is still there, it’s just hiding beneath the surface of your distracted and tech-filled life.

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Jump-start your day with these ten little habits that will make your love last forever.

1. Wake up every day and think, “What can I do to make you happy?”

It’s not that you have to spend your whole day thinking only of your loved one, but this question is more of a habit that locks in an attitude of prioritizing your partner’s needs over your own. You might think that’s unfair and say, “What about my needs?” However, if you put your partner before yourself, you’ll soon notice that (if you’re with a person who loves you too) you begin a back-and-forth give-and-take sharing quality into your relationship.

2. Pick your battles.

You don’t have to fight about everything that upsets you. Learn how to pause. Take time to choose to be wise. Ask yourself, “Is this really important, or can I let this one go?” Most of the time, people fight about small and unimportant things that aren’t worth fighting over. These petty fights cause distance and set off a negative thought process of doom and gloom. Don’t say things like, “Oh, this relationship will never work,” or “You’re such a selfish, inconsiderate jerk.” Once you tread this path, it just goes on and on. It will never end.

If you’re going to jump into battle, be sure it’s something worth fighting for. You can’t make it through a relationship without a fight. It’s unrealistic to expect that two people living together will always agree, never get their feelings hurt, and always be in control of their emotions. However, a long-lasting relationship knows that before, during, and after the fight; their love is stronger than the argument they’re having.

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“Many couples tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness and believe the claim ‘we never fight’ is a sign of marital health. But I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That’s how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage,” says Dr. John Gottman, a marital therapy researcher.

3. Practice empathy and compassion.

You’re not the only one who’s going through hard stuff. Your partner is too. Since you’re not together most of the day, you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life. Did something happen at work that upset them? Is there something they’re worried about that they haven’t talked to you about? Take a moment to think about the burden your partner is carrying. It’s also important to understand that your partner is not you. Your family history is different. If your partner is an only child, you can’t expect them to have the same family social skills as you do if you have three siblings. Allow for each other’s differences and respect them.

4. Appreciate each other.

It’s easy to fall into comfort zones of repetitive behavior. You take each other for granted. You have expectations. Yet, you forget to tell each other how much you appreciate the way he picks up his dirty socks, brings you a cup of coffee, or clears your plate from the table. You might appreciate the little things, but how often do you verbalize them? Everyone needs to feel appreciated. As Esther Perel explains in her TED talk, when you are free to imagine and appreciate and maintain a fresh perspective you can keep desire in a long-term relationship.

5. Follow your strengths.

Like a good business, a relationship needs job descriptions. Be in charge of the area that you’re stronger in. Admit that your partner has strengths. Allow them their area of expertise. Each player brings their strength into the relationship, building a strong team. As you should with any well-functioning team, be supportive. Notice when your partner needs a boost. Be encouraging, loving, and supportive. Even the strongest and smartest person feels insecure at times (although they might not admit it).

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6. Be present with each other.

Your busy life is filled with distractions. Your head is in your phone (and so is your partner’s). You’re going in one direction, your partner in another, and your relationship feels like two college friends sharing a dorm room. It’s improbable that anyone will put down their phone, but try to set aside phone-free time. Talk to each other again. Ask your partner how their day went. Share the events of your day. Take time to enjoy each other’s company. Most important of all, don’t forget to cuddle.

7. Stop Complaining.

Negative comments bring a dark cloud into your life. No one is perfect and neither are you. Appreciate what you’ve got. Don’t let what you want, ruin what you have. Small complaints affect your attitude. It’s easy to fall into a bad mood and make your partner feel worthless by constantly complaining about the “little” things that aren’t perfect. Never complain about your partner to a relative or a friend, unless you are in dire straits. In that case, seek professional help. Sharing your partner’s flaws with friends and relatives shows their negative traits. You are causing others to judge your partner without seeing the full picture. If you tallk about your partner behind their back, be certain that it’s only for you to work through your own emotions, decisions, and choices.

 8. Look for the good.

When times get tough, you become blinded with negativity. All you see is darkness. Everything is wrong and nothing is right. That’s when you have to disengage from the darkness, and think about all the good things your partner brings to your life. All those fabulous qualities are still there, they’re just harder to see. People are naturally judgmental. It’s a necessary life skill that often becomes abused in our relationships. It’s easy to become critical and make your partner feel that they are not good enough. Remember the good times, especially when times are tough.

9. Be the best of friends.

Share your lives. Talk about your worries and concerns. Be there for each other. Show up when you’re needed. No one knows you as intimately as your partner. After all, they are the person you share your bed with. Once you’ve found your soul-mate, you’ll know it. Once you experience this deep connection, make sure you work hard to maintain it.

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10. Let go.

When you hang on to old negative emotions, memories, and arguments, you bring the past into your present. Harbored resentments are damaging to your relationship. If you remember every time your partner said or did something that upset you, you will never feel free to experience the love of the present moment. You’re still living in the past. Forgive and learn to move forward. Don’t keep score of all the times you hurt each other. If you want your love to last, don’t keep a relationship scorecard.

Long-lasting love is hard work, but definitely worth it!

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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