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10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

This is a list of the top 10 books that I recommend to clients, both in individual and couples counseling.  Each one provides a unique way to better understand who you are and how you typically act within relationships.  You don’t have to be in a relationship for these books to be helpful; in fact, if you read these books before you get into a relationship, you’re much likelier to attract the right person. Even more importantly, you’ll know ways to stay happy and connected once you find the person for you.

1. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition
     by Harville Hendrix.

    getting the love you want

      This book is truly life-changing.  You will finally understand why you picked your partner, even though they often trigger you and may seem like the worst possible choice for you on many levels. Hint: it has to do with repeating familiar patterns from your childhood.  There are wonderful exercises as well, for you and your partner to do together to make you feel closer.

      2. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
         by Dr. Sue Johnson

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        hold me tight

          Another worldview changer. This book discusses the concept of attachment panic,which explains why you may feel so anxious and off-balance when your partner withdraws or acts distant.  This is a completely normal response for human beings, and Dr. Johnson explains how you and your partner can get out of this “dance” of closeness-withdrawal and genuinely connect on a level you did not think was possible.

          3.Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage
             by Laurie Watson

            wanting sex again

              For couples who are struggling with one or both partners experiencing low sexual desire, this is a wonderful, resource-filled book that provides education, clinical examples, and practical ways to jumpstart a fulfilling physical relationship.  Whether your decreased desire stems from boredom, deep seated hurt and lack of trust, or biological reasons, this book can provide you with new hope.

              4. The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
                 by Elaine Aron

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                hsp in love

                  Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?  Do you need your alone time, hate chaos and loud noise, and feel overwhelmed and stressed when your routine is disrupted?  Whether you are partnered with another HSP or someone who constantly feels that you’re “making a big deal out of nothing” and entreats you to “just go with the flow,” you need this book.  It can help you learn to get the most out of your intimate relationships, while being true to yourself and your needs.

                  5. The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov

                  adhd effect on marriage

                    Since ADHD affects 4 percent of adults, there are many readers out there who want to learn how to deal with this issue within their relationships.  Even if you just suspect your partner may have ADHD, read this book. For spouses of individuals with ADHD, this book can save your sanity.  Finally you see that it’s not just you being hyper-critical; ADHD truly has a devastating impact on marriages if partners do not work together to ameliorate some of its effects.  Also discusses the phenomenon of the hyper-focused courtship, where someone with ADHD becomes focused on the relationship to the exclusion of all else, which feels great for the partner.  Soon after marriage though, focus often switches to something else, and the partner feels bereft. Sound familiar?  Get the book.

                      6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
                         by Gary Chapman

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                        5 love languages

                          This classic book explain how have partners often  different “love languages,” which means that what is meaningful and loving to one may not what is valued by the other.  It’s wasted effort and harmful to your relationship if you keep giving someone what they don’t want, e.g. planning surprises for a guy who prefers affectionate touch, or doing the dishes for a woman who would rather hear verbal expressions of love.  This book helps you figure out your love language and that of your partner, and how to use this idea to create a closer connection.

                          7. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last
                             by John Gottman

                            why marriages succeed

                              John Gottman is one of the most respected and renowned relationship researchers of our time.  In this book, he guides you through figuring out what you’re doing right and wrong within your marriage, using self-tests (do you love quizzes?  I do) and straightforward advice.  This book is science-based yet easy to understand, and will give you concrete advice to help your relationship thrive.

                              8. The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love by Ty Tashiro

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                                science of happily ever after

                                  Ty Tashiro was a professor on my dissertation committee!  And even if he hadn’t been, I would have loved reading his acccessible, yet research-based book about why we pick our partners.  He discusses why our decision making abilities, so effective in other realms of life, often lead us astray in the area of choosing a partner, and what we can do about this.  And he’s funny too. Singles will have a special preference for this book, because they are still in the choosing-a-partner process.

                                  9. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

                                    Why do people eventually stop connecting physically and romantically after a few years or so of being together?  I am coining the word monotogamy to refer to this phenomenon, and although Esther Perel doesn’t mention this word (because I invented it yesterday), she has written a fascinating, un-put-downable book rife with clinical examples that show why relationships fall into a stale and boring pattern, with creative solutions to rekindling your desire.

                                    mating in captivity

                                      10. Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love
                                         by Dorothy Tennov

                                        love and limerence

                                          Did you know that evolutionarily, we are only expected to remain passionate about our lover (the feeling of infatuation or limerence) for two years, so that the couple can stay together long enough to conceive a baby and raise it for it’s first year of life?  We are wired to become virtually obsessed with new partners, particularly when it’s uncertain whether they reciprocate our feelings.  This is truly an eye-opening read about why people become so infatuated with their crushes and new partners.  It was published in 1979, but has become a classic and is just as relevant today.

                                          Featured photo credit: Couple Reading Books via pagesay.com

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                                          Samantha Rodman

                                          Clinical psychologist, author, blogger, wife and mommy.

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                                          Published on September 23, 2020

                                          6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

                                          6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

                                          I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

                                          If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

                                          What is Negotiation?

                                          First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

                                          Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

                                          In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

                                          Places We Negotiate

                                          I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

                                          1. Work/Business

                                          This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

                                          When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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                                          In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

                                          Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

                                          2. Personal

                                          I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

                                          I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

                                          Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

                                          3. Ourselves

                                          You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

                                          I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

                                          Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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                                          Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

                                          Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

                                          We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

                                          My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

                                          If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

                                          As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

                                          6 Negotiation Skills to Master

                                          Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

                                          Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

                                          1. Preparation

                                          Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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                                          It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

                                          For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

                                          After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

                                          2. Clear Communication

                                          The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

                                          If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

                                          3. Active Listening

                                          Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

                                          If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

                                          4. Teamwork and Collaboration

                                          To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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                                          If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

                                          When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

                                          5. Problem Solving

                                          Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

                                          Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

                                          From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

                                          There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

                                          6. Decision-Making Ability

                                          Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

                                          Conclusion

                                          There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

                                          Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

                                          More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

                                          Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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