October 7, 2010

Building Stronger Relationships.

The Parent Leadership Conference was wonderful. Any of you who are parents in Kansas should really think about making the trip next year. It's informative. It's empowering. It's just a great place to figure out your strengths and weaknesses as a parent and to develop new motivation in your journey to being the best parent you can be!

This year, we had the pleasure of listening to Toni Boyles as our keynote speaker. She spoke on ways to build strong relationships. What she shared really spoke to me- as a Mom, a wife, and a friend.

I share with full permission to do so- when I asked to do so, Toni replied without hesitation that the best thing to do with information is share it! Here are Toni's Top 10 Tips for Building Stronger Relationships:

1. Don't Make Them Guess!

How many of us are guilty of this? I know I am at times. We cannot expect people to be mind-readers. Toni encouraged us to make it a goal to have reputation where people know what to expect from you. Good or bad, there will be no surprises. I like this. I think the word reputation carries some negative connotations. Doesn't have to be so. I want to work hard to have a good reputation- one where people know what to expect from me: good things.

2. Attend to the Little Things.

Out of little things, big things grow. The little things are critical. Take from this what you will. The attention is in the detail. There are a million small things we can do to be a better parent or spouse or friend, but often dust them aside because we think they are trivial. Well, tell me the last time you received a thoughtful card or text or gesture from another and thought it was trivial... thought so.

3. Apply the PLATINUM Rule.

I love this one, and it's one that is HARD for me to live by. We all know the golden rule, right? Well, then there's the platinum twist. Do unto others as THEY would have done unto THEMSELVES. It goes along with the whole 5 Love Languages foundation. We all have unique ways in which we prefer to have love shown to us. Like, I could buy Tyler a million and one presents, and he would still get more satisfaction from me unloading the dishwasher and taking out the trash instead of leaving it for him to do. Every.Single.Time. I know this. He's an Acts of Service and Physical Touch Guy. Me- I'm a Quality Time and Gifts kind of girl. It's hard for us to give in the way the other would most enjoy receiving. It's a work in progress. I like the platinum rule analogy!

4. Don't Forget to B.E.T.

Positive feedback, people! I was pretty shocked to learn that in our human relationships, the most common form of feedback is NONE at all. We need to keep each other going, give each other some motivation and thanks for a job well done. Even for the little things. (There's those little things again...) B.E.T. Behavior. Effect. Thanks. It's really quite simple. For example- Mom, you kept Tink occupied downstairs while Sassy and I made lunch together. That allowed us to spend some quality one-on-one time, which is sometimes hard to come by. Thanks. Another example- Renee, thanks for taking the time to post some of the organic deals you have found on your blog. Some of Sassy's food restrictions have been challenging, and this had helped our transition to organic eating be less of a burden financially. Thanks. See, it's easy! I bet you can think of at least 5 people to thank right now. Take the challenge!

5. Offer Psychological Air to People.

LISTEN! When people feel like they aren't being heard, it consumes them. It becomes all they can think about. Kind of like this- hold your breath. Hold it for as long as you can. Bet you never really thought about how much you needed air until you didn't have any, right? Exactly. Be a good listener. It's not about what you say, it's about what you do. Just ask Stephen Covey.

6. Take Yourself Lightly.

People are attracted to people who make them laugh. Period. Laughter bonds people. Make it a point to laugh at yourself on occasion. It actually feels quite nice. Heed warning, though. Do not make your sense of humor a mean tool. It can easily become one. Keep it fun!

7. Ask the Right Question.

What is the right question? Why, it's the QBQ (John Miller). The question behind the question. It's all about personal accountability. What can I do to make the relationship better?

8. Apologize Sincerely.

EVERYONE does things they should apologize for. Period. Acknowledge you are human and own up! In doing so, don't dismiss others feelings. You can feel how you want to about something, but that's no excuse to act poorly. Starting off with, "I'm sorry, but..." is a recipe for disaster. Teach your kids the right way to apologize. I heard this one loud and clear (i.e. is forcing Tink to apologize to Sassy for stealing her toy really teaching her anything good about the art of apology?)... State your willingness to make adjustments. People love to hear that! Example- which sounds better? "I'm sorry I didn't empty the dishwasher" OR "I'm sorry I didn't empty the dishwasher, and I will make it a point to try my best at doing so every day this week"? Hmm...

9. Choose "Do Right" over "Be Right".

I think this is my favorite one. Sometimes you can either be happy or right, but not both. Toni said something that spoke to me intently. She said, "Don't be so committed to being right that you leave a path of relationships behind you." Whoa. Now, that's heavy. Let me just say that I am quite possibly the second most stubborn person ever (In case you were wondering, Tyler would be the 1st). This doesn't bode well for disagreements at our house. We need to use our independent will for good! We don't have to prove others wrong. There are better ways to showcase it. Do right instead of be right, remember? Sometimes the right thing to do is to let some things go. We don't have to agree to not argue. They are not mutually exclusive, folks. Can two people have different perceptions of the same thing? Of course! This is where a little introspection comes in handy. Another freaking gem that Toni shared is this: "There is no self-correction without self-reflection". AMEN! Reflect. Ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" I need to remember this little rule daily- in my relationship with Tyler, my children, and my friends. Great stuff!

10. Let Go of the Banana.

Learn to forgive. Be willing to say, "I am willing to let go and start over." The apology is only half of the equation. Don't hang on to something until it becomes your demise. Toni compared holding a grudge to drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. How true! This one isn't as hard for me as it is for some- I am typically pretty quick to forgive. It is a good one to keep in mind, though. I've found that it's usually much easier and more satisfying to forgive and move on rather than stew over something.

I hope these statements, in combination with my brilliant commentary, will find a place in your list of things that make you go hmmm... but only in the best of ways, of course! ♥♥♥♥♥

7 sweet tweets:

Kendra said...

Oh Heather, thanks for sharing these!! They were all wonderful advice, and many quite convicting! I am an excellent grudge holder.It's a terrible trait. I am also INCREDIBLY stubborn. Wicked combo.

Here's to bettering ourselves...=)

rduxler said...

YAY! LOVE this post in only a way that a touchy, feely social worker can. ;) I love them all, but my favorites are the platinum rule (because I'm a big 5 Love Languages person) and the apology one. Mike and I don't ask the kids to apologize right now, because we're afraid that they WILL learn that apologies can be empty and said without meaning.

Thanks for sharing these!

toni said...

Wow.. What an awesome job you did with the information. I loved it.
Did I really sound that smart?? As my husband would tell you, it is because I have done so many things wrong myself that I learned the hard way. You are amazing. Keep up the good work.

courtney said...

Thanks for sharing!! I'm going to pass these ideas along. Oh, and count us in for the Parent Leadership Conference next year! Sounds amazing (you'll have to remind me though!)

Sherry said...

Thanks for posting these Heather! I loved the quote about always being right and leaving a path of relationships behind you...I actually shared it with my husband just now (it's fitting at this moment in time). :)

Anonymous said...

Good Stuff!!!
Elainne

John G. Miller said...

Heather, author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question here - John Miller. Great piece! Thanks for recommending my QBQ! book! Each of us can be outstanding parents, friends, and spouses when we learn how to practice PERSONAL accountability! John@QBQ.com, www.QBQ.com