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Important Relationship Skills

The best relationships have
Honest, Open, Loving,
Two-way communications that focus on how you feel about the topic.

While there are many important skills needed for having the best relationships, relationship counselors tend to list common skills needed for building closer, more intimate relationships as well as solving relationship issues. These skills include honest, open, loving, two-way communications that focus on how you feel about the topic.

Honest

For some people, it may seem hard to be honest to someone depending on the issue at the time. Maybe you don't want to hurt their feelings. Maybe it's because you didn't grow up in the "perfect family." According to Janet Woititz, Ed.D, people who grew up in alcoholic and/or dysfunctional families may have learned to "Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth." As discussed in the book, this can happen for many reasons. One of the core issues was that they were brought up in a family where members were not allowed to, or feared to talk, trust, or feel (google). It could also be because family members didn't have the relationship skills that supported healthy, honest, loving communication. Why does that affect people as adults? I think if you understand that through "learning methods" such as mirror neurons we can be taught dishonesty through role models, sometimes without us even being aware it!

Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." Walter Scott said, "O, what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive!" Donald, at the YMCA said, "You always feel better when you do the right thing."  Plato said, "Beauty is the splendor of truth." Inner goodness, from the heart, is beauty.

The truth is, if you listen to your heart, except in rare cases, as hard as it may sometimes appear; in the end, you will find that honesty really is the best policy. In addition, the best personal relationships include authentic honesty from both parties, something that some people do not know about or choose not to undertake in their lives. 

Open

By open I mean "full disclosure", or "opening your door" to how you really feel about the topic. Why is this issue really on your mind? Openness requires trust. Both parties should build the trust in a relationship by being honest. Now in some rare cases, "full disclosure" may not be the best decision. When deciding what to discuss, don't forget about being honest with yourself.

Loving

Even if you're angry about an issue, blaming someone is just pointing the finger. In a simple example, let's say your initial thoughts are "I'm angry that they never close the door." If your initial feeling is anger, pause and think about why are you actually angry. Maybe it's because you feel undervalued because you have asked before and the other person said they would do it. The important thing is to figure out what is the root reason why your initial reaction is anger, and to say it in a loving way. Unlike fear or anger, Love will build a stronger, happier, more fulfilling relationship over time. See also "Love" in Loving Relationships.

One way to look at close relationships in your life is to realize that most likely you may love a person, but it is easy to understand that you may not like some of their behaviors. Don't focus on the problem; focus on solutions regarding the behaviors and your reaction to the behaviors. Wisdom can help you learn and understand a healthy approach. The other day a friend of mine pointed me to a site that offers a very unconventional marriage ceremony video webpage (theschooloflife.com) where as part of the ceremony they exchange childhood pictures of themselves.

Isn't it true that if you look at most very young children who are not born with a mental challenge, they are happy, joyful and seem full of love? (The obvious exceptions are if they are hungry, tired, or have a dirty diaper!) If you add that to the truth that just about everything in life is learned, including poor behaviors and lack of acceptance, doesn't it make sense to focus on how to learn from mistakes in order to gain better behaviors and/or acceptance? Remember, both parties started out as children, so I invite you to consider focusing on solutions with a positive approach. Commit to learning how to do this. Realize that to not learn and thus to "not know" is called ignorance.

When a child is first born, depending on the needs of the newborn, the parents may experience a few days, weeks (or more) of very poor sleeping patterns. Sleep deprivation was used by some military as a form of torture. When I find out that a couple is about to have their first child, if the opportunity exists, I will say to them, "Remember, at one time you both loved each other." The same applies in other relationship issues. As Harry said in a night court episode, "You know, if I didn’t know you two so well, I would say you’re in love!" I had a close attorney friend who had clients who wanted to divorce, and he said he always first tried hard to get the parties to work out their difficulties before he would help them divorce. That's because he knew that at one time, they both loved each other.

Two-way communications that focus on how you feel about the topic

Two-way communications

Some people learned to be bosses in their work; some may have learned to be "bosses" through other role models. A boss tells other people what to do. Some people "require" or "desire" direction from others.

An example of "require" is if they are incapable of making decisions in their lives, or it is in the best interest of the person to be guided, such is common in parent-child relationships.

An example of "desire" is that some people may want someone else be the "boss" (a head of household is an example) in a relationship. If that really is what both parties want, then that's all good.

Now here is something that you may find to be an interesting thought. As children, we typically have "bosses" called parents or caregivers. Their role is to keep us from running out into the street so we aren't hit by a car and killed. That's a good lesson! Besides teaching safety, another important goal of parents is to teach their children how to take care of themselves and how to prosper in their life. One important skill is to learn is how to have honest two-way communications, and learn how to discuss and negotiate towards the best outcome (hopefully a win-win) because that is needed when they try to have intimate relationships with significant others.

However, in a typical personal relationship, if one side is wants to communicate, and the other side won't discuss it, then I invite you to think about why not. Some possible reasons include:

If any of these types of issues are harming your relationship, consider various actions such as seeking a mediator or counselor.

Communications focus on how you feel about the topic

This is equally important to eliminating the "blame game," or "pointing the finger." Professional therapists say when you discuss topics, it's important to "FOCUS on how YOU FEEL about the topic"; remembering all the key factors already discussed above, such as keeping it loving. If you're not used to it, figuring out how you feel and how to express it in a loving way may take some thinking before you have the discussion. See also The Two Most Important Relationship Skills (thecouplescenter.org).

It may take some time to think about what and how best to say what you want to talk about, before you have the conversation. However, don't wait too long. When I was young, my neighbor had some horses, and one day I got bucked off. I was scared. To this day, I still remember how scared I was laying on the ground, on my back, looking up at this huge heavy horse. I was thinking, "This heavy horse could step on me and crush my stomach so easily." My neighbor said to me, "Cowboys would say that if you get bucked off of a horse, don't wait long before you get back on."

I think he offered good advice, and I am glad I got back on in a couple days. I think this message also can be applied to relationship "issues." It's important to talk about the issue and try to resolve the issue as soon as it makes sense, instead of letting the issue "fester", or as I've heard from someone else: "it's like letting cement harden over time." On top of that, the issue can "grow" over time, and be even harder to resolve.

This principal of not waiting too long is also in alignment with what most professionals write concerning the saying that "time heals all wounds." Yes, a short amount of time may help to clear your head, but its only action, not time that really makes any changes, so don't wait too long.

I believe, that in the end, these common sense principals' help all concerned live a better, more positive, loving life.

SEE ALSO: An example of HOW to resolve a relationship with communication.

Addendum:

As mentioned above, there are many resources on relationships, with lots of viewpoints on what they see as important skills. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are just a couple other views:

Thank YOU for reading this!

By David Morgan

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This page updated 03/22/19 06:14 PM