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10 Habits of Really Happy Couples

10 Habits of Really Happy Couples

It seems like a happy relationship should come naturally when you’re with the right person, but that’s not true. Relationships require work. Happy couples have to maintain their relationships every day with love and care, but it’s not as daunting of a task as it may seem. There’s no real “secret” to having a happy relationship, but there are things you can do to make it all come more easily. Try to integrate these habits into your daily life and see how much happier your relationship can be.

1. Go to bed at the same time.

I used to think it was silly to want to go to bed at the same time as my partner, but it does wonders for your relationship! If one of us stays up later than the other, our whole evening feels off. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow. My fiancé works the night shift, and without realizing it, my schedule also changed until I was a night owl, doing my freelance work during the late hours while he was at his job. When he came home early in the morning, I’d go to bed with him just to get that connection you can only get from sleeping and waking up together.

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2. Cultivate common interests.

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. But you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my fiancé doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch, or he’ll write a story too, and we can give each other feedback. He loves painting, and I can hardly draw a stick figure, but when he asks me to help him with a painting, I love to try and do my best with bright streaks of color. As a result, we’ve both found that it doesn’t matter what you do together (or in the case of my painting attempts, how well you do it), just that you’re doing enjoyable things together.

3. Walk hand in hand.

My hatred of hand-holding started in elementary school, when you had to hold hands with a buddy so you wouldn’t get lost on a field trip. Since then, I’ve never held hands with anyone and not gotten immediately sweaty palms. It’s one of the worst feelings! With my partner, though, I love holding hands. It makes me feel so happy and connected to him just to hold hands as we walk through the neighborhood, or even around the grocery store. Even if we don’t hold hands, we keep pace and walk side by side. I find that more often than not, my hand either finds his, or I slide my arm around his waist. There’s something really nice about walking perfectly in step with your partner.

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4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode.

It’s so easy to fight about stupid nothings and hold a grudge, but that’s not the way to be happy in a relationship. You have to forgive your partner after a fight, even if it’s something major. You might feel like they’ve betrayed your trust, but if you don’t give them another chance, then your relationship can never feel natural again. There will always be a rift because you don’t trust your partner, and feel like any time your back is turned, they’ll be doing something hurtful. On the other side, your partner won’t feel loved in the relationship because they’ll have never gotten your full forgiveness. Let your heart love easier by truly forgiving and honestly trusting your partner.

5. Focus on what your partner does right, not wrong.

No one likes a nit-pick! Don’t chastise your partner every time you think they do something wrong. There are nice ways to inform someone if they hurt your feelings, or to correct them if they do something in a bad way. But instead of yelling at your partner for breaking a plate, thank them for washing the dishes for you—hey, soap makes things slippery! Your partner will appreciate that you’re seeing the positive things they’re bringing to the relationship, and being more positive and complimentary will make you feel better than being negative all the time.

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6. Hug each other when you see each other after work.

This one is easy—who doesn’t want to melt into a comforting hug after a hard day? And if you had a good day, share your excitement with a hug. You can’t beat ’em. And once you start hugging, you’ll feel so much happier that you’ll find it easier to make time to cuddle with your partner instead of getting stressed by the things you need to get done around the house.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning.

Another easy tip! Saying sweet words to each other is never a waste of breath. My fiancé and I say “I love you” any time we part—whether it’s on the phone, when he leaves for work, when I run an errand. It makes you feel much happier, and is always a good note to end on when you go about your days.

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8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel.

Same with “Have a good day,” saying “Good night” when you and your partner go to bed puts a nice, loving haze on the end of the day. My fiancé and I have a nightly routine we say before falling asleep. I won’t reveal it here because it’s special to us, but it includes “Good night,” “I love you,” and other nice phrases that make you feel good and inspire sweet dreams!

9. Do a “weather” check during the day.

A “weather” check is where you call your partner during the day to see how they are. A caring phone call or text can really brighten their day and show them that you’re thinking of them. As an added bonus, it gives you a heads up about how their day is going. If they’re having a tough time, you can curb your happiness about a work promotion and be more sympathetic as soon as you get home. You can tailor your attitude to make them feel that much better when you both get home.

10. Be grateful for what you have.

This is the simplest tip of all, because if you’re in a relationship, you clearly value your partner. Be thankful that you have someone you love who loves you back. Be thankful that they help you with household chores and support you during tough times and cheer you on during the good times. Look at your partner as much as you can and just smile that you have them by your side.

Featured photo credit: Ganesha Balunsat via flickr.com

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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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