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5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

Any long-term relationship that’s successful is really a myth that two people create together.” – Dan Savage

Writing this article was a wake up call for me in regards to looking at my relationship with my husband of 22 years. It is a wonder that we have survived. I had expectations about what I thought our relationship should be, and when things didn’t turn out how I expected them to I would feel frustrated and angry, especially in the early years of our marriage.

Now I know why there was so much frustration and anger. My expectations were based on beliefs from relationship myths that existed for the sole purpose of being myths. If I had known then what I now know about the fallacy of relationship myths, I would have saved myself a lot of grief!

I have chosen these five relationship myths because I believe you should avoid these at all costs. If you go into a relationship believing in these five relationship myths, your relationship is pretty much doomed.

Myth 1: Happy Couples Stay Together Forever

This myth is a dangerous one, as it creates the belief that happiness will last forever. The reality is that happiness at the beginning of the relationship is very different to the happiness couples experience at, say, 50 years of marriage.

Believing in this myth means that you are not going to be prepared for the minefield of dangers that couples have to manoeuvre their way through in order to stay together. Some happy couples don’t even make it through and sadly, their relationships end.

At the start of your relationship you are in an ecstatic state where you want to be with your partner 24/7. You love being around them, you love what they say and you love the feeling of being in love. Why wouldn’t you want that to last forever?

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You need to get real and understand that the state of love and happiness changes and it will never be the same as it was when you first were together. To maintain love and happiness in your relationship, you both have to work hard to sustain your happiness and your love for each other.

Get to know the minefield of dangers that you have to work through as a couple and be prepared to go to battle together to overcome these dangers.

Myth 2: He Is My Soul Mate, My World, My One And Only Love

I have always struggled with this myth, as I have never really believed it. I chose this myth because it has now become one that has an unbelievable following. The reason this myth has become so ingrained into people’s belief systems is because society leads us to believe that love, happiness and living a fulfilled life comes only from experiencing the passionate love of another.

This person – your soul mate – is the only person you will truly and deeply love and your whole being is based around their love for you. Without them, you are no one. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but if you truly believe that then you are in trouble.

In today’s society, we are constantly in the “pursuit of happiness and love” and have been brainwashed to believe that the source of love and happiness is found from external sources like, for example, our “soul mate”. We are nothing without this love. Well, I don’t believe this to be so.

Happiness and love comes from within us and the love of another person is really the icing on the cake. If we are disconnected from our own happiness and source of love within us, then no matter how fantastic our partner is, we will always feel dissatisfied with who we are.

Accept who you are, know that your happiness and fulfilment comes from within you and do what ever it takes to be the happy and loving person you desire to be. Once you have achieved this, then you will find that there is no limit to how wonderful and loving all your relationships can be.

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Myth 3: Romance and Passion Will Last Forever

Being passionately in love with someone is not enough to make a relationship last. The reality is that this glow of romance and passion fades overtime, and it can either disappear or. if you get it right, grow into a deeper more mature love.

The problem for us is, we make big decisions about committing to the relationship when we are in the throes of passion, lust and love. This person we are choosing to commit to at this point of the relationship can do no wrong and anything they do that does annoy us we accept because we love them so much.

When romance and passion disappear, we can end up believing that we are no longer in love and we are with the wrong person. The relationship sours and eventually disintegrates. When this happens, for many couples what was once a loving passionate relationship becomes a very painful and “unloving” one.

If love survives the passionate and romantic stage, it is still not enough to keep the relationship going. It is at this point, where a couple who want to be together, they should take the time to sort out what they need to do to “invest” in their relationship to keep it strong, loving and sustainable.

Staying together forever in a loving relationship takes hard work, commitment and a lot of compromise. The arguments, the conflict and the disagreements continue. However a couple who are realistic and love each other are not afraid of these challenges.

Happy couples know how to work through their challenges together. They have strategies that ensure their relationship survives. The romance and passion is still there but it is simply older and much wiser.

Myth 4: Having Children Will Bring Even More Happiness To Our Relationship

This myth is absolutely a load of rubbish. I have two young adult children and I love them dearly, however being a parent has been one of the most challenging things I have done in my life.

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I had no idea how tough it was to be a parent and to co-parent with my husband, who has a very different parenting approach than I do. When you put two different parenting approaches together, it takes hard work, huge compromise (yet again!) and a great deal of effort to keep the relationship strong and loving.

Having children also brings a different dynamic to your relationship and if you both are not vigilant, this can destroy your relationship and the love you have for each other. I don’t mean to be harsh, but don’t let this myth lead you to believe that just by having children, your relationship will miraculously be even more happy and loving.

Having children is really the “test” of the sustainability and strength of a relationship. Parenting challenges your beliefs, values, ability to compromise, ability to love, your ego, your fears, your anxieties and your differences.

If the both of you don’t keep on top of these huge challenges, then the chances of you having the happy loving relationship you desire are very slim. Although children bring us great joy and happiness they also create a distraction away from “investing” in keeping your relationship with each other intact.

Your children will always be to you both your number one priority, however you will find that if you let it, your relationship with your partner will slip away until it becomes forgotten. You will wake up one day and discover that you no longer love this person and then the painful journey of separation begins.

Myth 5: Love Will Conquer All

The phrase comes from the Latin phrase from Eclogue X by Virgil, although the myth originates from Greek Mythology. Love was a favourite topic for the Greeks and they wrote many love stories, and many of them were actually very tragic. In fact, I am sure if you went deep enough into Greek mythology, you would find a love story that relates to each of these five myths.

‘Love Conquers All’ is a common theme in many of the Greek love stories. Read the story of Alcyone and Ceyx and you will see what I mean – even though Alcyone and Ceyx were a loving and devoted couple, their story doesn’t end well.

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This myth about love being the end all be all has been kept alive in both song and in films. The band Deep Purple released in 1992 a song titled “Love Conquers All”. In 2006, a movie was released by Tan Chui Mui with the title “Love Conquers All”. So with love stories, songs and movies all promoting the belief that “Love Conquers All”, it is then no surprise that we believe this myth to be true.

The reality is, love alone doesn’t conquer all the challenges and obstacles a relationship faces. Love alone will not help you to overcome your partner’s imperfections, their annoying habits, their selfish ways or the unreasonable demands of their family.

Constant dialogue and conversation, respect for each other, the ability to say sorry, being personally accountable and responsible for your actions, being able to speak your truth without fear of reprisal or shame, celebration, appreciation, fun, lots of date nights and the ability to resolve disputes and conflicts quickly and in agreement are just some of the factors that, along with love, are the key ingredients to having a happy relationship.

Life is complicated and full of uncertainties. Likewise, relationships can be messy and are never perfect. If you believe these five relationship myths to be true, when reality sets in and the pressures of life present themselves to you and your partner, the chances of survival together are poor.

Paired with love, putting these key ingredients into action will ensure without a doubt that your relationships will be strong, loving and will likely last forever.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” – John Lennon

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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