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These Simple Ways Will Improve Your Relationship Starting Today

These Simple Ways Will Improve Your Relationship Starting Today

1. Communicate more.

A successful relationship is never going to happen between two people who don’t talk. And, as the saying goes, “communication is key.” So, spend time every day talking. It doesn’t have to be long, but make sure you’re really connecting. This means, no TV, no radio, and no internet–just talking. Knowing what is going on in your partner’s mind will help you know how to support him or her, and a more supportive relationship is a better one.

2. Focus on the positive.

At the beginning of a relationship, you only see the best side of your partner. Then, as your relationship goes on, you start seeing all the little annoying things he or she does. It’s like cracks start appearing in your once perfect significant other. The bad news is once the cracks appear, you can never forget them. You have to make an conscious effort to look past your partner’s imperfections. Stay focused on the positive parts of his or her personality and you will have a better relationship. How do you do this? Be grateful for him or her. Be grateful for what he or she does and who they are. Then, the little cracks will become what they started out as– little.

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3. Show don’t tell.

About a year after I got married I learned the biggest secret of relationships. I was annoyed about how my spouse reacted. It kept getting to me, wearing on my nerves. Well, the next day I did the exact same thing. Then I realized the big secret: the things you’re most annoyed about are usually things you are doing yourself. Fix your own behavior and your partner will typically follow suit.

4. Ask what you could do better.

It’s always good to check up with your partner. Don’t guess about what you could do better – ask. It’s easy, and you might find out that doing something little for him or her will pay off tremendously. Also, you may get a hidden benefit: your partner might ask what he or she can do for you!

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5. Listen.

It’s easy to talk about yourself, but that could make your partner feel insignificant. Make sure you shut your mouth enough to listen to what he or she has to say. Also, try and remember what they’ve said. Following up with him or her about something said, like an important project or something he or she was worried about can make them feel like you really care.

6. Embrace imperfection.

No one is perfect. You’re flawed and so is your significant other. Sometimes you’ll need to get over the little things your partner does that bother you. Does he forget to take out the trash? Does she always leave dirty dishes in the sink? Well, the easiest thing to do is to get over it. But, if you can’t get over it here’s a fun trick: consider doing a “nasty habit trade.” This is where you both get to pick something the other one does that you hate. Then you both decide to work on your bad habits at the same time. Neither of you will be defensive because you’re each tackling a bad habit. And, you will be more motivated to change because your partner will be working on his or her bad habit at the same time.

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7. Have fun.

Sometimes relationships are hard. It can be a struggle to deal with family members, finances, kids, work and everything else. Carving out time to play, laugh and have a good time is crucial. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Last year for Christmas I made my husband the “12 Dates of Christmas.” I put 12 dates in envelopes for him to open each month this year. It’s been fun to open them up and plan something new.

Featured photo credit: Lover’s Quarrel/Alex De Carvelho via flickr.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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