Picture it: you and a loved one are in an argument AGAIN and it’s about the same ole thing(s). *HEAVY sigh* All you want is to see eye-to-eye and never hear or speak of this topic again. Yet, here you both are rehashing every opinion and emotion that’s been discussed nearly five thousand times. You both raise your voice hoping that maybe this time, it’ll be settled once and for all.
Was that pretty easy to imagine? For many, that sounds like reality. Perhaps you’re both a little stubborn and in desperate need of some advice. Or, maybe you’ve been putting effort into a fruitless relationship for years and you’re ready to give up. Or, maaaybe you feel like fighting with a loved one feels equal to fighting with a brick wall. Whatever the case may be, miscommunication is almost always the culprit. The good news is that miscommunication is a fairly quick fix if you’re both dedicated to strengthening the relationship.
Where to Go From Here
Below are my top five ways to strengthen your relationships aka: The Five C’s. I previously taught these methods in an Anger Management course, but you don’t have to have an ~anger issue~ to implement them!😉 I think it’s safe to say we all get tense during an argument, so it’s helpful to remember these tips so things don’t get out of hand. It’s important that you and your loved one read through these methods together so that you’ll both be more aware of your actions and your expectations will line up. If you read through them alone, it kinda defeats the purpose because only one of you has the ~key.~ If read together and implemented with driven, positive attitudes, you’re guaranteed great results!
The Five C’s to Strengthening Relationships
As you read through these tips, think about and discuss how you’ll implement them into your relationship.
When you feel yourself getting angry, walk away to cool off.
To be clear, cooling off doesn’t mean you get to run away for hours and ignore texts and phone calls. It means taking 10-30 minutes of alone time. For example, go for a walk, listen to music, do a breathing exercise, lie on the floor etc. Find something that will bring you peace somewhat quickly, so you can get back in there and take care of business!
But! Before you run off to cool down, be sure to let the other person know you need a minute to yourself to simmer down and collect your thoughts.
PRO TIP: Disappearing without warning typically leads to an even bigger fight. (Just in case you haven’t learned that lesson first-hand lol).
When we don’t allow ourselves, or others, this precious window to unwind…well…get ready because we’re more likely to end up doing or saying things we don’t mean out of rage or frustration. That’s why taking a minute to relax is so important! In fact, take multiple *breathers* if need be. Anything to keep you from exploding. Explosions make matters worse 100% of the time.
Read more about how to cool off and deal with anger, here.
Effective communication means to engage and ACTIVELY listen. Don’t you hate when you can tell someone isn’t listening to you? It’s like you can see their wheels turning, trying to formulate a response, instead of listening to what you’re actually saying. Maybe something you said struck a nerve and instead of hearing the rest of your side, they immediately get a rush of adrenaline and defensively blurt out a response or vice versa. This of course only adds fuel to the fire and prolongs the argument. *sigh*
Many times, we miss important details someone is saying simply because we’re SO focused on what we want to say, how we want to prove them wrong, or make a point. Maybe they just said something we’ve been desperately wanting to hear from them, but missed it because we’re so wrapped up in our own thoughts.
Lack of listening and comprehension are the #1 contributors to miscommunication. No real shock there, right?
Don’t forget about your TONE. Ya know…are your words kind, but dripping in sarcasm? You can string together the sweetest words of the English language, but with the wrong tone, that something sweet can come across quite sour.
Pay attention to how you’re speaking–not just what you’re speaking.
Along with verbal communication, body language speaks volumes without ever making a peep (unless a tapping foot is involved. Yikes). What does your stance say? Do you flippantly roll your eyes? Yawn? Appear bored, uninterested, or worse….haughty during an argument?? What we do is just as, or perhaps even more, important as what we say. Can you believe that? Body language is similar to tone. What vibe are we giving off? A kind response delivered with poor body language results in insincerity. (Think of ‘I promise to do better’ mixed with folded arms with a sassy chicken neck bobble delivery. Doesn’t match does it). Focus on your body language the next time you and a loved one are in a disagreement and put forth the same effort you’d like to see from them.
“Communication is key.”
What a common phrase we so often overlook. If you have something on your mind, don’t beat around the bush, hint, or expect your loved one to read your mind *because they should know what annoys you by now*…JUST SAY WHAT YOU FEEL AND GET IT ALL OFF YOUR CHEST.
But remember, kindly say it. Without harshness, interrupting, being on the defense, or disrespectful body language,
Now that everything is out in the open, what comes next you ask? A compromise!
As expected, relationships have a better success rate if compromise is involved. You’re not always going to get your way, and they shouldn’t always get theirs. In a healthy relationship, there’s give and take. (I know, I know, “But we want to be right and get our way so badly!”)
Because you now know how you both feel, take a step back to look at the situation at hand and determine where you might could ease up. Do this by imagining being in the other person’s shoes. Think about if you’d react the same way as them if the roles were reversed, and ignore that deep yearning to win or be right. Along with this technique, and active listening, do your best to merge your thoughts and feelings so instead of there being only two outcomes, yours and theirs, instead, gauge how to make the outcome ours. A nice combination of both of your desires.
And just in case you need a reminder:
It’s tempting to want to keep tabs, but that only intensifies the argument and/or grows resentment. Don’t keep a scorecard of rights and wrongs in your relationship. There’s no need for that. Just keep building and moving forward.
The compromise stage might take a little while, with lots of discussion, but eventually you’ll both need to come to a conclusion…a conclusion you BOTH agree on. Reluctantly giving in just to stop talking about the subject at hand isn’t a conclusion. I take that back. It could very well be a temporary conclusion, but that’s all it’ll ever be–temporary. When both parties don’t happily agree, expect to be having that same discussion in a week. Keep working on a compromise until there’s an actual, healthy conclusion.
If you said you were going to do something, or stop doing something, commit to it. Let your words MEAN SOMETHING. All too often we undermine our promises and best intentions because we forget and carelessly toss them aside once the conflict is settled. Then, just like a boomerang, we find ourselves in the midst of that same ole mess we promised ourselves out of last time. Oh, how the cycle won’t stop unless we commit to taking action.
Commitment can be tough. Once again, this is where we can gently hold one another accountable until we are fully in the habit of doing what we said we would commit to.
Showing that person that you’re working on the relationship and putting in effort because you want it to get better and stronger speaks volumes. If they see you give up, they’re understandably going to feel discouraged and mirror your behavior and attitude. So, when you promise to do better, put action behind it, and fully commit. Staying committed is proof that you care about the person and truly want to strengthen the relationship.
And there you have it–five ways to strengthen your relationships. Even though relationships can be difficult, if you love the person, value the relationship, and put forth the effort, it can become better with each passing day. You and your loved one read over these tips together so that you’re both on the same page, and COMMIT to putting them into practice. Begin The Five C’s in your life and I promise you, you will see a difference.
Let me leave you with The Golden Rule: