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8 Hacks for Satisfying Relationships

8 Hacks for Satisfying Relationships

People can make you feel great and soothe your soul or it can seem that they can drive you deep into despair.

Here are eight things you can give up to have satisfying relationships at work and at home.

1. Release your idea that others’ role is to make you happy

We often carry this assumption around. While we may have had a mother or a father there to make us happy as a child, as an adult it’s nobody’s role to make us happy. It’s our role to make ourselves happy.

And one way to do that is to surround yourself with people who bring you up, not bring you down.

2. Let go of your desire to make everybody happy

If you are a pleaser, you likely spend quite a bit of time focused on other people. You might even be saying things to yourself like “I hope he/she likes me.” or “I hope they like my gift.”

And, if they don’t like it, then you can justify feeling mad, hurt, and upset. A little example of how we can quickly turn a gift into some resentment goes like this. “He didn’t smile back at me…who does he think he is!”

But that’s a trap. The trap is that your happiness is dependent on whether somebody liked what you did for them…and ultimately liked you.

Now, of course, when we do things for people, we should hope that the other person benefits from our gift. And that gift could be as small as a smile, or it could be something bigger. But give up worrying about whether they are happy with our gift.

Give up trying to please and expecting something in return. Focus on your intention, your gift, and your thoughtfulness. Let that be satisfying enough.

3. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

If we live our lives living up to others expectations, we are going to have a tough life. Our life, our happiness, and our success in the world will be determined by somebody else. And their expectations.

Far too many of us live a life like this. If you live your life according to what others think is best for you…your friends, your parents, your partner… it could even be even what your teacher or somebody spouting off on some social media platform… then you are not honoring yourself. You’ll create stress for yourself, if you spend so much of your energy pleasing others.

4. Abandon your effort to be available for everybody all the time

Now, of course, I’m not saying that you should turn into some self-centered jerk who never pays attention to others. In fact, I think that to have healthy relationships, we should care for others, a lot.

But we don’t need to be there for everybody all the time when its at the expense of our needs, values, and desires.

It’s a balance. You need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others.

5. Surrender your willingness to put up with being hurt

Let’s face it. There are lots of people in the world who can be critical, nasty, and hurtful to you. And downright dangerous.

It’s too bad, but it’s true. People who do these things exist.

Now some of these people have little awareness of the impact their behavior has on you. But some are bullies or violent and intentionally hurt people. Both physically and mentally.

The question is…can you have a great life when living with and around people who are nasty? Can you be happy when these people are touching your soul on a regular basis?

Is it possible to conquer stress, depression and anxiety when there are people hurting you on a regular basis? Unlikely.

But let’s get this straight. You deserve healthy relationships. Now I didn’t say you deserve a fancy new car, a designer home in Hawaii. Or being independently wealthy. That would be nice. But for most of us, that isn’t realistic.

But what is realistic is not having to put up with poor treatment from others. I remember a person telling me that every time they spoke to their mother on the telephone, her mother would criticize her about every decision she made, tell her what she was doing wrong, and how she wouldn’t turn out to be much.

So she gave up letting that negative energy get in her ear. She needed to learn to keep herself safe from the negativity of others so she could nurture her own spirit.

6. Discard the assumption that people live their lives like you do

We see the world through our own eyes. Others see the world through their eyes. Some of us are blind so those people experience the world differently. But for the most part, we experience the world through our own experience. And we can make the mistake of thinking that everybody sees the world the same way we do.

If we carry this assumption, it will create a tough life for us as we will be filled with disappointment.

But you can be curious about what others want in life. What their values are. What drives them to do what they do.

It will help you have refreshing relationships.

7. Give up not asking for what you need

One person I know has made a massive difference in her life by stopping her use of alcohol.

And, while her family supports her, one person always mentions it with a half compliment or a hidden insult. It goes something like this. ”Susan, it’s been great for everybody that you quit drinking. And you look fantastic. It’s too bad you didn’t quit years ago.”

Hidden insults can drive you crazy. You might choose to give up putting up with them. Even for the family.

What about asking for what you want? Try this on.

“Hey thanks for the compliment, I really appreciate you helping me stay clean. And you’re right, I feel great. One thing you could do that would help, is when you give me a compliment, don’t tag on the little ending about its too bad you couldn’t have done it earlier. That little ending isn’t so helpful. But I do love you and your compliments!”

8. Shed the notion that you are fragile and can’t tolerate a snub or insult

Finally, the one thing that I see people assume that holds them back from having a happy life is to assume that they can’t take it when the going gets tough.

They fear standing up for themselves. In fact, we are all tougher than we think we are. Be resilient. Don’t let somebody’s ill behavior bring you down.

Start surrounding yourself with people who treat you well. Start practicing standing up for yourself even with the little things. Then standing up for yourself by giving up some things becomes easier, day by day.

You might worry about giving them up. But you can. You’ll be happier for it.

Featured photo credit: Henry Söderlund via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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