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12 Behaviors that Destroy Relationships, and How to Fix Them

12 Behaviors that Destroy Relationships, and How to Fix Them

Relationships are destroyed when communication breaks down. Communication involves transmitting and receiving, so when you are being receptive to someone, send the other person signals that what they are saying and showing is being received. It’s even better if you can send them signals that their words are being valued. Remember that you communicate with more than just words: your actions and body language say a lot to the other person.

The behaviors listed below tend to poison relationships. Are you doing any of these?

1. No eye contact.

Eye contact is basic. If you don’t make eye contact with the person speaking, you aren’t giving them 100% of your attention. Be sure to hold their gaze as they speak.

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2. Frowning.

Look in the mirror: are the corners of your mouth turned down? For many people, what they believe is a neutral expression is actually a frown. A person on the receiving end of that frown will interpret it as though you are not happy with her. Interrupting. When you interrupt someone, you tell them, “What I have to say is more important than what you are saying.” If you think you know what people are going to say, don’t say it for them; just let them say it. If you want to offer a counterpoint to the discussion, bookmark it in your brain and offer it when there is a pause.

3. Drumming fingers or toes.

Drumming creates an audible interruption which tells the speaker that you want them to hurry up and that you are getting impatient with them. Keep your hands still and in a receptive position, such as with your palms facing upward and in your lap.

4. Crossed arms or hugging knees.

This says to the other person, “I need to protect my heart from you. I don’t trust you.” Instead, uncoil and relax.

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5. Rolling eyes.

When you do this, you tell the other person, “Here we go again with this foolishness”. Instead, soften your gaze and turn on your peripheral vision.

6. A rapid exhale.

This type of exhale sounds exasperated—yet another sign of impatience. Instead, keep your breathing slow and even.

7. Flicking a wrist.

If you are making a “shoo-fly” motion with your hand, you are dismissing the speaker like a pesky insect. Basically, you are telling them, “You annoy me. Go away.” If you need to retrain this habit, hold your hands.

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8. Showing them the palm.

“Talk to the hand” puts a physical wall between you and the speaker. If you do this, you are telling them, “Stop speaking. I’ve had enough of you.” Keep your arms at your sides as the other one speaks.

9. Reading or texting.

If you think you are doing this surreptitiously, you’re not. People can tell, and it’s offensive. The signals you are sending the other person are, “I would rather be doing this than listening to you. I merely tolerate what you say.” Instead, stop what you are doing and give the person your full attention.

10. Walking out of the room.

This is the epitome of dismissal. What you are saying is, “I don’t value what you are saying, and I would rather be somewhere else.” Instead, hold still and receive what the other is saying—however uncomfortable. The other thing you have to do can wait a little bit. If you must leave urgently, wait for a pause, and explain to the other why you must leave now.

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11. Saying, “Well, you do it” when someone give constructive criticism.

That doesn’t give the impression that you value their feedback. Rather, it sounds like you are justifying your behavior. Instead, thank them for their feedback and tell them that things will change in the future (or that you will weigh their comments carefully).

If you are doing any of these behaviors, you have an opportunity to receive more out of life.

As you practice the art of listening, observe your posture, your facial expressions, your breathing, and your movements.

Remember that everyone wants to feel valued, and one way to let them feel valued is to receive and acknowledge what they say. Give them the gift of being heard.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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