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Simple Tips to Improve Your Relationships Starting Today

Simple Tips to Improve Your Relationships Starting Today

Never take your relationships for granted–whether at home, at work, or with family or friends. Your happiness depends on them. You might think that fight from last night is over, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it ruined the next day (or possibly the whole week).

Relationships are one of the top causes of stress. The positive effects of peaceful interactions are pure bliss. However, the disagreements, conflicts, and harbored resentments can knock you down and keep you there. Your body gets out of sync when stress takes it hostage.

Follow these 9 simple steps to improve all of your relationships starting today:

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1. Watch your words.

The old saying “think before you speak” still holds true. Your impulsive multi-tasking ways have caused your thoughts and words to jump out unexpectedly. Slow down and ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”

2. Respect differences and opinions.

Every person thinks his or her opinion is important. Instead of jumping in with “No! I disagree. You’re wrong.” take a minute to realize the other person thinks it’s valuable. Try to respect what someone else is saying, even if you disagree with it.

3. Look for the positive hiding behind the negative.

Each character trait has a positive and negative side to it. Your structured and organized girlfriend plans an awesome summer vacation, but can be a real pain when she wants the refrigerator kept in order like a filing cabinet. If you are a disorganized and creative person, and your partner is structured and organized, don’t expect hime or her to change, simply look to see how those traits make your life easier.

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4. Pick your battles.

Every disagreement does not have to become an argument. Silence has gotten a bad rap lately. Speaking up and standing for what you believe in are important actions to take, but sometimes they seep into other areas of relationships and cause damage. Is this really worth a fight? If the answer is yes, wait until the negative emotions subside before you sit down and talk it out respectfully. Silence is truly golden when it stops a ridiculous argument from ruining your relationship. Some disagreements are just a waste of hurtful words.

5. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Things are not often as they appear. You jump to conclusions without thinking about the other side of the story. We don’t go around telling around everyone our deep, dark secrets. Sometimes relationships are guessing games. We don’t always get to see what’s going on inside someone’s head. When you give someone the benefit of the doubt, and judge him or her on the brighter side rather than the darker side, you can see the bigger picture. There’s usually more to most situations.

6. Practice compassion.

Everyone has his or her own personal history, dramas, and character traits. I can’t be you for five minutes and you can’t be me. Let people have their own past, as long as it’s not destructive to your life.

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7. Give compliments.

This is the simplest and quickest way to change a person’s mood or attitude. A compliment says a lot. Notice how you feel the next time someone compliments you. It’s an instant mood lifter.

8. Say thank you.

Practice gratitude. These two words carry a lot of power. Thank you says, “I appreciate you.” Gratitude benefits the one who delivers it, as well as the one who receives it. If you see something worth appreciating, it means that you see the good. Grateful people are happy; complainers are unhappy. Gratitude washes away negativity.

9. Value people.

People are precious. Negative reactions cause emotional amnesia. When you are angry or hurt, you forget all the wonderful things someone did for you in the past. You forgot when they gave you a shoulder to cry on, or came over at 3 a.m. when you didn’t want to be alone.

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Once you realize how easy it is, you can make these simple steps a new habit. Just like going to the gym every day keeps your body healthy, strong, and rock hard, strengthening your relationships can also become a daily habit.

Changing your perspective immediately improves the relationship. Your happiness depends on it.

Featured photo credit: Detailed view of a young couple holding hands/Peter Bernik via shutterstock.com

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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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