Let’s face it: Everything we do involves relationships. On a personal level, we have them with our spouses, children, friends and relatives. Professionally, those interactions extend to co-workers, bosses and clients. And, of course, you can’t forget the girl behind the counter at your local coffee shop. So what’s the secret to happy relationships? It can be as easy as making some tiny tweaks to your behaviour that will translate into big returns.
Strategies for success
1. Don’t hint—spell it out
Let go of the illusion that people can read your mind (they can’t). Instead it’s essential to be specific about your needs and clear about your expectations. And while it might seem counterintuitive, the longer you’ve known someone, the more important it is to understand this. The more detail you can provide, the more chance he or she has of meeting those expectations.
2. Always say thanks (and good morning)
Praise is motivational. So be sure to regularly voice what you appreciate. Give recent and detailed examples. And when it comes to your spouse, remember that even the simple act of saying “good morning” can contribute to greater relationship satisfaction. Try this easy trick with co-workers too!
3. Watch for mood or body-language changes
Tune in to non-verbal cuessuch as tenseness or lack of eye contact. They are clear giveaways that someone is uncomfortable or disappointed, and they may indicate that a need has not been met. Give the person some time to cool down, and ask how you can handle things in the future to better meet his or her needs.
Two common pitfalls
1. Ignoring the part you play
We’re all familiar with the saying “It takes two to tango,” but many people forget this when it comes to relationships. As soon as you acknowledge and embrace that you are 100-percent responsible for 50 percent of every relationship in your life, you’ll make an important step toward having and enjoying mutually beneficial partnerships. In other words, you can never expect to change another person’s behaviour without changing your own first.
2. Assuming others think like you
Toss out that assumption because it’s simply not true! People are different, and so are their needs. Value systems highly impact perception, satisfaction and the overall quality of all relationships. If a wife feels her needs are being met, she will rate her marriage highly. If a client feels his needs are being met, he’ll be satisfied. Bottom line: Successful relationships happen when you recognize what the other person needs and you can deliver it!
Karyn Gordon is a leading relationship and parenting expert. Tune in to CityLine (Wednesdays, 9 a.m. EST) or visit Drkaryn.com for more great advice.