10 Relationship Rules
The following are useful tips to strengthen relationships with your partner, friends or family.
- Vow to be happy in relationship. But many people would rather be right than happy. Forcing your point only pushes the other person away and creates power-struggles.
- Don’t hit below the belt. Never use people’s weaknesses against them. When people are criticized, judged or blamed, they become angry and trust diminishes.
- Give people choices and acknowledge them. People get angry typically over two reasons: 1. Feeling powerless, e.g., burdened, trapped, having no say in a matter, or given an ultimatum; 2. Not feeling accepted, e.g., not feeling liked, loved, valued, appreciated, understood or not receiving healthy attention.
- Listen sincerely. Understand the other person’s point of view, emotion or thought. When someone feels heard, they feel important and respected and trust develops. This creates an opening to deepen relationships. Avoid being dismissive, condescending or giving looks of contempt.
- State your unarguable truth. Rather than shutting down or verbally attacking the other person voice your feelings and needs without blaming, judging, or trying to induce guilt. Use “I” sentences while avoiding the use of “you” in sentences. Simply state how you feel (angry, sad or scared), why you feel the emotion, and what you need as a result.
- Be direct in communication. Keep it concise and to the point. Long monologues cause people to tune out, and to become angry. Also when communicating, make requests and not commands or demands.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. This creates trust. Words and actions must match. Your words and credibility are empty if they’re not followed by action.
- Acknowledge your part in a conflict. Relationships are two-way streets and it’s seldom that one person is completely at fault.
- Don’t be a therapist, teacher or parent to the other person. These create a power imbalance in relationships. Be supportive without telling the person what he/she should be doing or what he/she’s doing wrong unless he/she asks for feedback. Avoid analyzing, teaching or preaching to the person.
- Give love. Love is never distant, cold, punitive, hurtful, judgmental or critical. Love does not test other’s love. Love is acceptance of a person as is; it’s supportive, understanding and doesn’t try to change someone. Love is a transformative force that deepens intimacy and helps to heal past emotional wounds.
Some of the tips are simplified relationship skills that often need guidance and lots of practice to attain a level of competency. For more information on the subject, please contact Dr. Sho or read CPR for Relationships. If you are experiencing major relationship issues where trust has been broken, please contact an appropriate professional who can assist you.
Copyright © Sho Aoyagi 2013
These articles are meant to be informative and not to be taken as advice. Every person’s situation is different and the articles may not pertain to your speciﬁc situation.
Also, before dealing with any issue with another person or before attempting to look at your own issues, it’s important to consult with an appropriate professional for guidance.