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5 Keys To A Better Love Life

5 Keys To A Better Love Life

    I recently asked 5 of the most successful couples I know for their best advice on how to create a fantastic love life. They laughed at first. They thought I was asking about sex. I assured them I wasn’t. I wanted to know what they’d done to keep their love alive for 100+ combined years of life together.

    What came next surprised, inspired, and frustrated me all at once. These ideas were so simple, so straightforward. Why weren’t more couples putting them to use in their own relationships? Richard, happily “living in sin” with Debbie for 39 years, said it best. “Most people just don’t seem to care enough to put a bit of effort into their relationship every day.”

    If you really do care then you’ll have what it takes to put the following concepts to use and reap the benefits. In spite of all the complexity that love serves up, these keys will make short work of adding joy to your relationship.

    1. Ask For Praise

    Expecting your partner to notice things without prompting is often very unfair and can lead to resentment. Keep the beast away by speaking up and bringing attention to things you’d like your partner to notice. If you’ve done something you’d like your partner to take notice of, say something! Got your hair did? Say something! Fixed the dining room table so it doesn’t teeter? Say something!

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    You did this instinctively when you were a child. Remember running up to a parent or guardian and asking them to look at a picture you’d colored or cape you’d made out of an expensive tablecloth? For most of us, the response was one of amazement (if a bit contrived) and vocal appreciation for our obvious talents.

    You’re not so very different now. You still love to be praised when you’ve done well. Even if it’s something you should have done earlier in the week or missed a detail on. How to get that praise? Ask for it and agree to give it when your partner asks you for some appreciation. You know not to crush a child’s spirit by ignoring their efforts to impress you. Are you as smart about your partner?

    2. In Everything, Give Thanks

    Say “Thank You” and make an effort to regularly demonstrate your genuine gratefulness for all your partner does for you. There are going to be times when this will seem an impossible chore. Perhaps you’ll be furious with your partner over something or other and they’ll point out something they did, hoping for praise. How will you respond? Will you offer your praise and thanks then deal with your anger separately? Or will you close up like a shell and torture your partner with inconsolable silence?

    You care about making your relationship work so I expect you’ll swallow your momentary pride and say thank you. After all, your partner deserves at least the same courtesy you’d give to a complete stranger. When you cannot be gracious, be polite. Make a habit of offering thanks to your partner, even for the tiniest of things, and a sapling of thankfulness will grow into something strong enough to support you both.

    3. Schedule Time For Each Other

    If you were worried about killing spontaneous romance by scheduling time with your partner,  you wouldn’t be reading this. For the rest of us with busy lives and hectic schedules, an exhausting Wednesday is easier to handle knowing that Thursday at 6pm we get a few hours with our best friend.

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    All that’s left is to actually be present with your partner during the focused time you have together. This, according to all voices heard in my less-than-scientific survey, is one of the hardest parts of any long-term relationship.

    Dinner with kids at the table doesn’t count as real presence. Sitting on the couch while you both have laptops running in front of you doesn’t count either. In fact, most of the things we do as couples fall into the realm of proximity instead of true presence. A simple test (thanks, Debbie!) is to see if you need to get your partner’s attention before talking for them to hear what you say. If you do, they weren’t really there to begin with.

    You’ll be tempted to use your regular time together as the time for you to angrily vent and argue. Don’t do it! This is your time to catch up with the person you love. If you can’t think of something wondrous and warm to say, chew on silence and just be. There’s something about focused presence with a loved one that helps troubles sink away just a bit. Make the most of your time together!

    4. Agree On How To Argue

    Sometime when you’re not even a little angry with each other, sit down and talk about how you fight. Then lay down some rules you both agree to follow during future arguments.

    Mary, a 74 year-old mother of four and widow of two shared three of her rules:

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    • Nobody leaves during an argument without saying where they’re going.
    • Arguments that last longer than 3 days are obviously stupid and will not be allowed to continue.
    • An argument will never mean that the relationship itself is in question.

    Mary’s final rule resonated with me because that’s something I work very hard to do in my own relationships. One of the most difficult but smartest things to say during an argument is, “I love you but I’m so pissed at you about/for/because [insert argument here].” Keeping the argument separate from the relationship status is key to getting things back on track. You could call it a shortcut through very dark woods.

    5. Say You’re Sorry Every Day

    Apologizing is a lot like learning a foreign language. The more you practice it in real-life situations, the better you become at it.

    If you don’t do something worth saying sorry for every day, you’re either an angel or completely blind to your own inadequacy. You need not commit some great damage against your partner before saying you’re sorry. Just be yourself. In the course of being yourself you’ll say something without thinking, forget to pick up something from the store, or complain about your day without asking about your partner’s. You’re a master at making mistakes! =)

    The more you ask for forgiveness, the easier it will be to admit to and gain forgiveness for all the things you do that might drive your partner away if not taken care of. Its never easy to swallow your pride and admit to screwing something up. But you need to do this and make a habit of it if you want to make your relationship the best it can possibly be.


      There were many more tidbits and some hysterical stories shared but those 5 tips ranked highest on the list of useful bits of advice.

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      Feedback Time!

      What do you have to say? Is there something you’ve found works really well for you and your partner? I’d appreciate your input!

      If 100 people go home from work today and communicate better with their partner because of reading this, we’ll have changed part of the world with just one article! Thanks for sharing it!

      Image: source, source

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2019

      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

      Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

      In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

      Step right up, don’t be shy!

      Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

      The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

      Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

      Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
      So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

      A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

      Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

      Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

      When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

      Culturally Conditioned

      We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

      I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

      The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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      Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

      Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

      Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

      1. Broadens Your Network

      After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

      2. Improves Your Communication Skills

      I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

      Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

      3. Continually Learning

      So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

      Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

      4. Increases Self Confidence

      Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

      Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

      So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

      How to Talk to Strangers

      Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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      1. Say Hello

      Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

      Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

      Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

      2. Ask About Them

      Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

      You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

      As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

      3. Just Do It

      One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

      When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

      Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

      4. Don’t Take It Personal

      One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

      When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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      5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

      I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

      One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

      6. Detach

      A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

      Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

      7. Share Your Stories

      Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

      To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

      So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

      8. Give a Compliment

      Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

      When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

      9. Relax Your Body Language

      If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

      When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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      If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

      10. Practice, Practice, Practice

      Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

      Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

      After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

      The Bottom Line

      As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

      There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

      Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

      Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

      More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

      Reference

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