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8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

Before you pop the question or put the champagne on ice to celebrate whatever form of partnership you have chosen, do me a favor, will you? Read the 8 questions you need to ask yourself before settling. Take your time and think abut them. These will be the foundation stones for your time together. Who wants to live “unhappily ever after?” With marriage rates in the USA at an all time low and divorce rates rocketing, these questions must be asked.

1. How well do you know your partner?

And what does your partner know about you?  Well, you are a wonderful person, for a start! But let us probe deeper and discover whether you are a balanced person and if you are prepared to try and change some defects or not. Ask yourself the following:

  • How you deal with mood swings and whether you are often moody.
  • If you are prepared to love and cherish your partner.
  • If you empathetic or not.
  • If you are aware of any defects, how do you think they might affect the relationship and if you are prepared to talk about them.

You should feel at ease exchanging views on how you both want to be better people and how this could impact the relationship.

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2. How often do you argue?

Think of the last argument you had with your partner. Maybe it did not solve anything or maybe you ended up at loggerheads. Maybe the fallout was pretty toxic in that there was a lot of resentment and hurtful remarks which lingered in the air afterwards. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may well have to think whether you are both compatible. Look at arguments in the following way. They are perfectly normal in any relationship, but they should always be managed so that they provide a negotiated decision or resolve a problem to both partners’ satisfaction.

“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” —Robert Quillen

3. What are your views on your careers?

“A career is wonderful but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” —Marilyn Monroe

Is there any risk that one of you might become a workaholic? At the other end of the spectrum, you have to look at a boring job which gives you neither satisfaction nor any prospect of a career. You have to think about whether your job is going to become the elephant in the room. You both need to be able to maintain a decent work-life balance if any relationship is going to stay the course. Talk about your plans and how these could:

  • Help you both with financial rewards and security.
  • Impact negatively on spending time together.
  • Lead to stress or worry.
  • Affect your children and their upbringing, if you decide to have a family.

4. What is your view of your partner’s limitations?

You need to think about this carefully. There may be problems with untidiness, distraction, forgetfulness and unpunctuality, just to name a few. The perfect partner does not exist and we will never know whether Cinderella and her Prince Charming split up! Now here is the question. If one partner tries to reform or convert the other, then problems will begin to bubble up to the surface. The key is being aware of these problems and attempting to change yourself first, rather than your nearest and dearest. Look at the give and take in your relationship and see whether it has been fairly balanced up to now.

5. Are you really happy with each other?

Many people have leaped into a marriage or partnership because of the fear of being alone or because of unbearable peer and family pressure. Sad, but true. But women are delaying marriage according to the Bowling Green State University. Think of it like this. Do not believe that things will change and that you will be able to adapt, if you do not feel 98% of the time happy, relaxed and satisfied now.

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6. How reliable are you?

In every sphere of life, reliability is the one quality that makes or breaks a relationship. You both need to know that you can depend on each other 100%. Reflect on how you have delivered on your promises up until now.  There will be times when you have to care for a loved one who is ill or deal with difficult children. There will be the day-to-day chores where each partner will have to deliver so that the home runs smoothly.  Give yourself a score on your own reliability and assess your partner too.

7. Do you share the same values?

One of the reasons you were attracted to each other was that you have similar views on lots of things, such as politics, cooking, gun control, equal human rights, and religion. There may be things that you disagree amicably about, but in general, your world view is pretty much in sync. But, if you argue a lot about politics or ethical values such as birth control or abortion, it may be time to reflect on how these could start to erode your relationship. There could be problems about having children if you have very different views on family planning, for example. Think of various scenarios such as “what if…” and ask your partner how she or he would react to these.

8. Do you want to have a family?

This is a key question. I once knew a couple where the wife deliberately sought to get pregnant in spite of her husband’s expressed desire to have no children. They ended up with three sons! Needless to say, the marriage floundered and ended most unhappily. Discuss your ideas about children and more importantly how to bring them up. Your own childhood will have an enormous influence on how you approach this. If it was an unhappy one, there will be a challenge to make sure that the same mistakes are not made. We often parent like our own parents did.

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“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” —George Bernard Shaw

Have you any other questions that you think are important? Let us know in the comments    

Featured photo credit: Divorce books/farm8 via farm8.staticflickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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