Good functioning and productive relationships don’t just happen. They require conscious thought, keeping in mind practical principles and techniques. It really is not as important how much knowledge or training you have in your field of work if you don’t know the secret to having good relationships with your coworkers. These principles also apply to marriage and friendships. There is no guarantee, however, if you are in a difficult relationship, particularly with your spouse, that following these principles will bring about change in how he or she responds back to you. But they will most definitely change you. You will fine tune your ability in dealing with a difficult person or to have more harmonious and edifying relationships overall.
1. Concentrate on thinking well of the other person. Assume the best about him or her. Believe they have good intentions, unless it is very evident and obvious that they don’t.
2. Never cast blame. This never accomplishes anything, and it focuses on the problem instead of the solution. It also leaves you from having to accept responsibility for something that may be, at least in part, your doing.
3. Become a good listener. A common complaint is that people don’t really listen. Give attention to improving your listening skills. Don’t just hear words but pay attention to body language, especially facial expressions and tone of voice. A really difficult thing to do is to not be thinking about what you are going to say next while the other person is still talking. And don’t always try to “fix” a problem. Just listen.
4. Learn how to communicate. There is a big difference between simply talking and communicating! This goes beyond simply responding back to another person. It involves using specific words. Try to avoid beginning sentences with the words “You should,” “You need to,” or “You are.” They can come across like you are casting blame or giving unwanted advice. Try to avoid the words “never” and “always,” in reference to the other person. For example, do not say, “You always react in anger,” because maybe he or she does not always react in anger. Be careful of starting a sentence with the word “I.” That can be okay in expressing your feelings, or likes and dislikes, but in other situations it could be taken to mean that you have your own agenda, or have made a decision without talking to the other individual. And last, but not least, don’t forget the three most important words: “Please” and “Thank you.”
5. Directly connected to good communication is tone of voice. Men have to be more aware of this because they have masculine and deeper voices that can come across as more commanding.
6. Never attack the other person’s character. Stick to the issues or problems. Concentrate on the facts. Do not cross the line by questioning his or her intentions, honesty, or integrity.
7. Own the problem. If something is your fault or problem, accept it, right then and there. Don’t make excuses, or try to rationalize or justify your attitudes or actions.
8. Don’t get emotional. It is quite okay, and encouraged, to state your feelings about something, but it is quite another to do it in such a way that the other person does not believe you are accepting of their position. There are many cases where there is no person who is right and the other is wrong. People simply see things from different perspectives, especially men and women.
9. Don’t try to change the other person. No matter what you are going through or what you are discussing, concentrate on what needs to be changed in yourself, or what you can learn from it. Too many conversations escalate into heated arguments simply because one person wants the other to change.
10. Show unconditional love. This is not something you can muster up or train yourself to have. And you do not have it just because you love someone. It can only come from God. It is loving someone no matter what, or loving them “in spite of” what he or she might say or do to you. In the case of physical abuse or addictions, there may be some exceptions. If you decide to love someone unconditionally it will take God’s grace to do so.