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Last Updated on March 19, 2018

15 Signs You’re In The Right Relationship

15 Signs You’re In The Right Relationship

Relationships are tricky things. Sometimes they are difficult to navigate. Sometimes you’ve been in one too long to realize it’s not right. Sometimes you get so comfortable with unhappiness that you forget what happiness looks like, or don’t feel like you can do better.

But when you’re in the right relationship, everything is different. The sun shines brighter, your smiles are bigger, and even doing mundane chores becomes more enjoyable. It’s good to have clear signs that you’re in the right relationship, and it’s also good to have tasks that you can work on to improve your relationship. Either way, read on for 15 telltale signs it’s the real deal.

1. You spend time together doing things you both enjoy.

It’s great to do what he likes. It’s great to do what she likes. But what’s even better is to find things you both like, and to do them together. It took us nearly four years of marriage to really find things that we both like, but we’re starting to hit a great stride with things like working out together, mountain biking, playing paintball (yep, she loved it!), and even writing together.

2. You spend time apart, doing things you enjoy.

When you’re in the right relationship, your partner understands that there are things you want to do alone. Maybe he’s a gamer, maybe she loves Pinterest. We all need time to do our own things, and the right relationship is one in which both partners understand and appreciate that about each other.

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3. You fight productively.

When you’re in the right relationship, fighting is never about winning. It’s not even about getting your point across (though sometimes it takes that ugly turn). A productive fight is about understanding the other person, finding common ground, compromising, and respecting each other throughout the process. If you end a fight feeling like you’ve won, you’re doing it wrong.

4. You each have your own friends and share friends too.

Some of my friends are in relationships where they only have couple friends. Others only have their own sets of friends. When you’re in the right relationship, you find balance between your social circle, your partner’s, and your shared circle. Missing any of those three elements may be a sign of concern.

5. You maintain self-identity.

You celebrate being you. Your partner does the same. And you appreciate each other more for maintaining your self-identity. In the right relationship both partners are nurtured to continuously improve and develop their “self.”

6. Your friends and family like you together.

One of the easiest ways to know if you’re in the right relationship is to pay attention to the feedback you get from friends and family. Assuming your friends and family want what is best for you, a lot of negative feedback is a bad sign. That doesn’t mean everyone will be enthusiastic about your relationship, but the overall sense you get should be positive.

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7. You are able to disagree respectfully.

Some things you wont agree on. It happens. The right relationship isn’t about everything being perfect, but about partners maintaining a high level of respect when things don’t go perfectly. You can disagree. My wife and I disagree often. But what separates our disagreements from others I’ve seen is that we do it respectfully. There are no hurt feelings, no efforts to change the other person’s mind at all costs, nothing like that. We don’t need to agree on everything. And that’s an important realization, because we definitely don’t.

8. You better your partner, and they better you.

My wife makes me better. Her academic pursuits inspired me to further my own. Her writing inspires me to write. My love for running inspired her to start. It’s a back and forth of improving one’s self through the inspiration of the other. We make each other better, and that’s a sure sign that we’re in the right relationship.

9. You share a passion for your future together.

Ever met the guy who just isn’t interested in “settling down”? If you’re dating that guy, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In the right relationship both partners are enthusiastic about a future together. And while not everything lasts forever, partners who share a vision for what their future entails are in a much better position than partners who don’t, or worse, don’t even discuss the topic.

10. You’re attracted to your partner, mind, body, and spirit.

Sure, you’re attracted to them. That attraction is probably the first thing that motivated the pursuit of a relationship. But are you attracted to his mind? Are you attracted to her spirit? Is he the kind of person you could have conversations with years from now when you’re both old and wrinkly? Is she the kind of person whose joy will shine through when her face shows her age? You’re in the right relationship when you’re just as excited about the late night conversations as you are about what happens between the sheets.

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11. You keep each other’s secrets.

Do you keep her secrets? Does she keep yours? Are you diligent about protecting your partner’s privacy? This is a small, but very important issue that signifies the level of respect and value you hold for your partner. You’re in the right relationship when you are impressed with how much your partner values protecting your secrets.

12. You make a good team.

Ever been in a kayak with your partner? That’s how I first realized my wife and I had some work to do with regards to being a good team. We couldn’t steer, we were super slow, and we complained a lot because we weren’t working together. We’ve since gotten much better. It’s a silly example, but there is value in it. If you and your partner are already making a good team, you’re in the right relationship.

13. You enjoy doing even mundane tasks together.

Grocery shopping is literally one of my favorite things to do with my wife. I take food seriously, and walking around in the grocery story planning our meals and trying new things is really fun. Even a day of errands and chores can be fun if you’re with the right person. Ask yourself this: Could you enjoy a day cleaning out the garage or attic with your partner? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right relationship.

14. You are compatible sexually.

This probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway! You aren’t always going to be on the same level. Sometimes you’ll want more, sometimes she will. Sometimes you’ll feel adventurous, sometimes he will. But, generally speaking, you should be compatible with your sexual interests and desires, in quality, quantity, style, and all other characteristics. If you’re a 3–4 times a week kind of person and your partner considers once a week a chore, you might need to reconsider the longevity of your relationship.

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15. You share financial goals.

Finances break up even the best of relationships. It’s a good start to share ideas about financial goals, how much income you require to be happy and not stressed, what you want to do about retirement and savings, etc. Strong couples even share budgets and create financial challenges for themselves. If you have your finances in order, you’re probably in the right relationship.

There are many other telltale signs, but these are a few to get you started. Look over the list and do a relationship audit. Does your relationship show signs of being the right one? Are there areas you can improve to get yourself there? Is it time to re-evaluate the relationship you’re in? While these signs may not be universal, they are very telling as to whether or not your relationship even has the legs. Do yourself a favor and really observe your relationship with a keen eye. You may be surprised to find he or she really is the one. Or you may save yourself wasted years and a lot of heartache.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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