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Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

The old school romantic notion of marrying before sex is almost an antique relic. Fully 95% of Americans have had premarital sex. Most men will have had at least 6 relationships, and women 5 before tying the knot. What does all of this experience mean for marriage quality?

At the very least, divorces have been going down since the 1980’s. Even though people continue to use the false “50% of marriages end in divorce” statistic, marriages have been improving for decades.

Whenever the subject of marriage gets brought up, you can be sure that someone will argue against the institution by trotting out the most famous of famous statistics: half of marriages end in divorce. This seems like a slam dunk factoid as to why folks should avoid the altar. There’s just one problem: it isn’t true and hasn’t been for awhile now. – Bret & Kate, The art of Manliness

This may not correlate to people getting more relationship experience, but it doesn’t seem to be a negative. Let’s jump into how a lasting relationship works, and whether or not more more experiences can mean healthier marriages.

They Key to a Lasting Relationship Is Personal Growth

Healthy relationships are not complicated, but people are. A lot of the mystique about healthy relationships has to do with focusing on the wrong things. Many people blame external sources for their failures and successes.

The first place to start a healthy relationship is by taking a good look at ourselves. When things are going wrong it’s too easy to blame others. In relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. Instead, two whole people compliment each other.

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Whatever baggage we bring into our relationships is going to affect their longevity and quality. This is why a commitment to personal growth is so important. The better we are, the better the people we’ll attract, and the better our romances will be.

This will affect how our relationship experiences play into a marriage. Better quality experiences will teach an observant person better lessons. For a better experience, work on yourself first.

A couple personal skills which can play into a relationship include:

  • Confidence: The way you feel about yourself is going to have a direct effect on the people in your life. Overcoming shyness, building self esteem, and and having a healthy self image are crucial. You’re less likely to stay in a bad relationship if you feel good about yourself.[1]
  • Social skills: Being able to read people and understanding the best way to get a message across are big. Without good people skills, it’s hard to let others know how we feel and to understand how they feel. Learning how to positively influence others can help a long term relationship.

It’s Not About Having More, It’s About Learning Wisely

Does the number of relationships we have contribute to a better marriage? Yes and no.

Experience is how we learn. We can get good at almost anything by dedicating time and effort. We can also spend a lot of time doing something and still be horrible. Think bad drivers; many have been on the road for decades and still resemble go cart racers.

For relationship experience to count, we have to be active learners. It’s not enough to simply have relationships. We have to be conscious observers and turn off the autopilot.

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Some people learn from experiences and get better. Others learn bad behaviors and repeat them in every relationship. One disaster after another; dating narcissists, manipulators, and psychopaths doesn’t help us.

To learn from a healthy relationship, stay away from toxic people. Chances are that if you keep ending up with toxic personalities, there’s a lesson about your own personality that you’re missing.

“It’s about the individual. Some people are ready to meet ‘the one’ right away; others need more relationships under their belt to learn what works and what doesn’t.” – Charlee Brotherton

More relationship experiences can be great if we learn lessons from those relationships. Often times those lessons are about ourselves. The way to make it count is to act on your new knowledge. Fill in the gaps to make yourself better for your current or next relationship.

Getting some sexual experience, learning to communicate, set boundaries, and gaining clarity on who and what you want in a relationship can all contribute to a better marriage.

The key here isn’t necessarily having more relationships, it’s learning from the ones you do have. Some people may go through more experiences to absorb the same lessons.

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Prepare Yourself for a Loving Relationship

People make plans for all sorts of things but often neglect their personal lives. If you go to a personal trainer, he’s going to set a diet plan, workout schedule, and rest intervals. If building a better body is worth making a plan, why don’t we have action plans for our love lives?

Knowing a few stats can help make a better plan. So can experiencing multiple relationships or focusing on a few, high quality romances. Either way, learning from our experiences while growing into a better person is going to have the biggest effect.

Understand the Reality of Relationships

A lot of people run on autopilot and make no effort to learn what it takes to have a successful marriage. Recognize the differences between men and women to better understand sexual polarity, attraction, and our different needs.[2]

Pay attention to your relationships and build the skills you need for the long run. Be a student of life for the best results.

Be Patient for the Right Partner

Don’t settle for second best. This is one area where dating multiple partners can pay off. It’s often necessary to play the field to find the right partner. What a lot of people do is settle for whomever gives them some attention. This is needy behavior and won’t help to make a strong marriage.

It’s perfectly possible to marry the first person you date and do well, but more often than not it’s pure luck. Expand your options so you can pick the right person for you.

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Don’t Rush to the Altar

Rushing into a marriage can have numerous consequences. For one, it takes years to really get to know someone. All sorts of things will boil to the surface after spending years with an individual. Second, waiting a few years can teach you how to navigate a relationship.

“Dating 3 or more years before getting engaged leads to a much more stable marriage. This finding probably comes as no surprise, but it should stand as a warning to those who are eager to get married right away. Don’t jump into marriage before you really get to know someone.” – Randal Olsen

Here’s one factor where multiple relationships aren’t an advantage. We can learn important lessons by sticking with the same person.

Commit to Personal Growth

Probably the most important factor of all. No relationship is going to survive a bad character. It’s important to look to yourself for the causes of any problems.

Not taking full responsibility for our outcomes means bouncing from one relationship to another, never getting what we want. After all, wherever you go, there you are, and your problems too. Carrying our baggage from one relationship to another is a sure way to poison the well.

By committing to personal growth you’ll learn about yourself, other people, and important life skills. Being our best selves means we’ll have more to offer our ideal partner.

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Featured photo credit: Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Eddy Baller

Dating & Confidence Coach

emotional intelligence How to Be More Sensitive for an Emotionally Insensitive Person Why Empathy Is Both the Hero and the Villain in a Relationship marriage longevity Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

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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!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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