Relationship Q/A

Art by Andre Kohn

Art by Andre Kohn

I’m starting something new here on my Life Goal Solutions, Inc. blog.  You may notice the new page titled Relationship Q/A.  I would like to start a relationship advice section as a part my regular posting.  If you have any relationship questions or need advice regarding any type of personal relationship, including romantic partners, family, friends, coworkers, etc. email me at or enter your information in the Contact form below.

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Choose the Good Ones!

"Turquoise and Caicos" by Tracey Chikos

“Turquoise and Caicos” by Tracey Chikos

“Thoughts become things.  Choose the good ones!” – Mike Dooley

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You Are…

Background photo

‘Misty Summer Day’ painting by Nicolette Vaughan Horner

“You are essentially who you create yourself to be, and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.” – Stephen Richards

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4 Techniques to Maximize Relationship Happiness

When I talk about relationships, I most often refer to the work and research of Dr. John Gottman.  Dr. Gottman has conducted over four decades of extensive research on relationships, observing the interactions of couples within a (fairly) natural setting and having real fights while measuring physiological responses over a period of time.  After observing thousands of couples over the past forty-plus years, Dr. Gottman can predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will stay together or not.  Dr. Gottman brought us the four biggest predictors of what causes relationships to fail, which he calls the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

In this post, I want to talk about Dr. Gottman’s book published in 1994, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last.  Specifically, I want to focus on relationship conflict, which I addressed in a previous post as well.

According to Dr. John Gottman (1994), it is not whether you fight that determines if your relationship will last; it is how you fight.  Dr. Gottman explains that you don’t need to learn some intricate system on how to handle arguments and conflict.  Gottman (1994) states that all you need are four simple strategies to break through the negativity in your relationship, and if you use these four strategies consistently when needed, Gottman states you’ll be 75% of the way toward maximizing happiness within your relationship.

What are these four techniques?

  1. Calm Down
  2. Communicate Non-Defensively
  3. Validate
  4. Overlearn

Calm Down
Dr. Gottman (1994) explains that when couples have conflict, sometimes one or both people may experience flooding, which is being overwhelmed or shell-shocked by the amount of negativity coming from the other person.  Your body experiences physiological responses like increased heart rate and over-arousal.  Gottman (1994) states, “It’s virtually impossible to think straight when your blood is pumping furiously and your heart is racing” (p. 176).

When flooding occurs, people tend to use protective mechanisms that can contribute more negativity to the conflict, such as defensiveness and stonewalling – two of the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse (Gottman, 1994).  These are automatic, overlearned behaviors that you fall back on because you don’t have to think about it (think fight or flight).

Gottman (1994) explains that the antidote to flooding is to recognize when you feel yourself beginning to feel flooded, overwhelmed, or over-aroused, and consciously make an effort to calm yourself down.  Pay attention to your heart rate.  The higher your heart-rate goes, the more adrenaline is pumping through your blood, making it more and more impossible to really absorb what the other person is trying to say (Gottman, 1994).  Give yourself a minute or two to calm down, but be sure to let the other person know you’re doing this so that they do not mistake it for stonewalling (withdrawing altogether).  Let them know you just need a minute to calm down before you address this so that you can have a clear and rational mind.  Gottman (1994) also reminds us to replace any distress-maintaining thoughts with soothing and validating ones during our calming period, and provides examples on page 179.

Communicate Non-Defensively
Dr. Gottman (1994) explains that defensiveness in a conflict contributes to flooding, stonewalling, and adds to the cycle of negativity.  To help break this cycle, begin by listening without being defensive (Gottman, 1994).  Of course this is going to take some effort at first, as defensiveness may already be a learned and automatic response for many people.  Gottman (1994) also tells us that when you have a non-defensive attitude, it helps the other person to be less defensive as well.

Defensiveness, as mentioned earlier, is one of the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse, and Dr. Gottman (1994) states that of the four, it is one of the most dangerous.  Gottman (1994) states, “Learn[ing] to listen and to speak with your spouse without feeling the need to defend yourself and without triggering defensiveness in your mate [will] do wonders for your marriage” (p. 181). 

The antidote to defensiveness, according to Dr. Gottman (1994) and his extensive research is to, “reintroduce praise and admiration into your relationship” (p. 181).  Keep a positive attitude with and toward your partner, and also keep in mind the magic ratio: “You must have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together if your marriage [or relationship] is to be stable” (Gottman, 1994, p. 29).  Dr. Gottman (1994) states that you must become the architect of your own thoughts, and this means that you choose whether you focus on the positives or the negatives in your relationship and about your partner.  When you choose to focus on the positive aspects of your partner, what made you fall in love with them in the first place, then you can begin to overlook and overcome the negative qualities about them and begin to implement more praise and admiration toward them.  Gottman (1994) states, and anyone can concur, that everyone responds to genuine praise, thanks, and compliments.  Gottman (1994) explains that you can even go through the process of changing the habits of your thoughts about each other as a team, which can double your benefits.  Focus on the positive!

(P. S. Admiration and praise is also an antidote for contempt – another horsemen of the relationship apocalypse.  Five to one ratio!!!)

Speaking of antidotes to the four horsemen, Dr. Gottman (1994) states that validation is an antidote to THREE of them – criticism, contempt, and defensiveness.  Just by letting your partner know that you understand him or her is, “one of the most powerful tools for healing your relationship” (Gottman, 1994, p. 195).  Gottman (1994) also states about validation that, “Few things make a person feel more loved and valued” (p. 195).  This involves seeing things through your partner’s eyes and actually putting yourself in his or her shoes to feel some of what he or she feels.  Let your partner know that you are considering his or her perspective and that his or her feelings are valid, even if you do not agree with it (Gottman, 1994). This will allow them to feel more comfortable and allow them to be more open to your perspective as well (Gottman, 1994).

A few ways Gottman (1994) lists that you can use to add more validation to your discussions include: taking responsibility, apologizing, complimenting, and doing the minimum (showing at least a minimal amount of validation – I understand this upsets you – will still go a long way).

As I mentioned earlier, we all have learned behaviors or sometimes even automatic responses that we don’t even think about that we just do in specific situations.  Right now, these behaviors are overlearned, which is why they are your go-to responses.  When you start using the techniques above, Gottman (1994) explains that it may, and probably will, feel unnatural at first.  You have to make a conscious effort to recognize the behaviors that keep you in the cycle of negativity and maintain a conscious effort to intervene these techniques that will break the negative cycles and start new positive and healthy ones.  You have to keep practicing these techniques until they become habits, and keep practicing the habits until they become automatic responses (Gottman, 1994).  Dr. Gottman (1994) states that practice will help these techniques become second nature, and that you can start off using the techniques in normal, everyday settings (not during a conflict), and continue practicing the techniques even when you don’t feel like it (when you’re tired, hungry, distracted…).  Then, by overlearning the healthy techniques, you’ll be able to access them when you really need them

Dr. Gottman (1994) states that these four techniques, “are all that most marriages need in order to get back on track” (p. 201).  He states that of course it probably won’t happen overnight and it will take hard work and motivation.  This book is packed full of great advice, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve and build a stronger, healthier relationship with their significant other.

Give Me Your Input
In the comment section below, tell me what some of the problems have been in your past or current relationships, and what techniques have you found to work well to improve them?


Gottman, J. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail: And how you can make yours last. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer: 2013-2014

Life_Coaching_Daily__Cover_for_Kindle 2013-2014Hello friends!  As you can see, it has been quite some time since my last post.  I have been incredibly busy for the past couple of months, but I have recently made some time to work on my new Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer!  I’ve made some great changes to this new calendar.  Once purchased, you can take your calendar to your local office supply store (I like Staples) and have them bind it with spiral binding for better convenience.

New features include:

  • July 2013 – December 2014 (18 full months)
  • Full description of Paul J. Meyer’s SMART Goal criteria
  • Motivational quotes for each week!
  • Check-boxes for each monthly and weekly goal and action item

A few of the weekly motivational quotes include:

“Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control.” – Peter Turla

“Realize that you are the author, and every day you have the opportunity to write a new page.” – Terence Houlihan

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” – Unknown

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Character Strengths and Multiple Intelligences

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and a woman in line checking out made a well-intentioned statement that everyone could be good at anything if they tried.  Of course, being the polite and courteous person that I am, I did not tell her how wrong I believe she was, but this presented a great topic for a new blog post.

I’ve mentioned before about an assessment to evaluate character strengths developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, father of positive psychology.  This assessment helps determine the specific character strengths that pertain to each individual based on the 24 character strengths that Dr. Seligman has discussed in detail in his book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.  Each person has his or her own unique combination of character strengths that help him or her thrive in life and to be successful.  Once people know what their stregths are, they can build on those strengths and apply them in different situations to help them achieve their goals more successfully.

Another assessment that I use in my Self Esteem 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program is based on Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, which he introduced in 1983.  Based on Gardner’s (1983) theory, each person has a set of 8 different intelligences, which involve a biological and psychological potential to 1) solve problems and 2) create products valued in one or more cultural contexts (Gardner, 1983).  Some of these intelligences stand out much more in varying individuals than others.  These 8 intelligences include:

  • Verbal/Linguistic – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to use words effectively.  These individuals typically have highly developed listening skills, enjoy reading, or make good public speakers.
  • Logical/Mathematical – This intelligence is demonstrated by reasoning and calculating, thinking conceptually and abstractly, and being able to identify patterns and relationships within their environments.
  • Visual/Spatial – This intelligence is demonstrated by thinking in terms of physical space and being very aware of the environment.  These individuals may like to draw, complete jigsaw puzzles, and read maps.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic – This intelligence is demonstrated by an effective use of the body and a keen sense of body awareness, such as that of dancers or surgeons.  These people enjoy movement, touch, and making things with their hands.   They also communicate well through body language.
  • Musical – This intelligence is demonstrated by showing a sensitivity to sound and rhythm.
  • Interpersonal – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to interact well with and understand others.
  • Intrapersonal – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to understand one’s own inner feelings, interests, goals, and motivation.  They may have a preference for being alone, exhibit shyness, and enjoy reading books.
  • Naturalist: This was not among the original intelligences that Gardner introduced in 1983; however, Gardner (1995) explains that it should be included in his list based on the ability to readily recognize flora and fauna, make other distinctions in the natural world, and to use this ability in a productive manner (i.e. hunting, farming, biological science).

Not only can these strengths indicate what type of talents and interests individuals will have, but it can also be a great place to start when selecting a job or career that an individual will thrive in. (2013) provides a list of careers pertaining to each intelligence category as a place to start or to get some ideas, especially for career paths that overlap between an individual’s top 3 Intelligences.  Below is an example, courtesy of (2013):

Verbal-Linguistic Logical-Mathematical
  • attorney/lawyer
  • comedian
  • communications specialist
  • curator
  • editor in publishing
  • historian
  • journalist
  • librarian
  • marketing consultant
  • newscaster
  • poet
  • politician
  • speech-pathologist
  • talk-show host
  • teacher
  • language translator
  • writer
  • accountant
  • auditor
  • computer analyst
  • computer technician
  • computer programmer
  • database designer
  • detective/researcher
  • economist
  • engineer
  • lawyer
  • mathematician
  • network analyst
  • physician
  • physicist
  • scientist
  • statistician
  • bookkeeper
Visual/Spatial Bodily/Kinesthetic
  • 3D modeling & simulation
  • architect
  • artist
  • computer programmer
  • engineer
  • film animator
  • graphic artist
  • interior decorator
  • photographer
  • mechanic
  • navigator
  • outdoor guide
  • pilot
  • sculptor
  • strategic planner
  • surveyor
  • webmaster
  • actor
  • athlete
  • carpenter
  • computer games designer
  • craftsperson
  • dancer
  • doctor of sports
  • firefighter
  • forest ranger
  • jeweler
  • mechanic
  • personal trainer
  • Phys Ed teacher
  • physical therapist
  • recreation specialist
  • surgeon
  • yoga instructor
Musical Naturalist
  • audiologist
  • choir director
  • conductor
  • disc jockey
  • music camp counselor
  • music comedy actor
  • music critic
  • sound editor
  • music lawyer
  • music librarian
  • music publisher
  • music retailer
  • music teacher
  • music therapist
  • musician
  • piano tuner
  • recording engineer
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • speech pathologist
  • voice actor
  • air quality specialist
  • animal health technician
  • anthropologist
  • astronomer
  • botanist
  • dog trainer
  • environmental lawyer
  • farmer
  • forest ranger
  • gardener
  • geologist
  • landscaper
  • meteorologist
  • nature photographer
  • park naturalist
  • veterinarian assistant
  • water conservationist
  • wetlands ecologist
  • wilderness doctor
  • wilderness guide
  • wildlife illustrator
Interpersonal Intrapersonal
  • actor
  • administrator
  • communications manager
  • conflict resolution specialist
  • cruise director
  • customer service rep
  • dental hygienist
  • group mediator
  • human resources manager
  • marketing specialist
  • nurse
  • PeaceCorps
  • politician
  • psychologist
  • religious leader
  • social director
  • social worker
  • teacher
  • trainer facilitator
  • travel counselor
  • waiter/waitress
  • actor
  • artist
  • career/personal counselor
  • consultant
  • criminologist
  • energy healer
  • futurist or trend predictor
  • intelligence officer
  • philosopher
  • program planner
  • entrepreneur
  • psychic
  • psychologist
  • researcher
  • small business
  • owner
  • spiritual counselor
  • theologian
  • therapist
  • writer
  • wellness counselor

Your Turn
Take the Multiple Intelligences Assessment and answer the following questions in the comment section below:

  • What are your TOP 3 Intelligences?
  • Does this fit well with your current career choice or hobbies?
  • How can you use these strengths to your advantage in your career and personal life?
  • How can knowing your strengths help you become more successful?


  • (2013). Multiple intelligences career chart. Retrieved from
  • Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Gardner, H. (1995). Reflections on multiple intelligences: Myths and messages. Phi Delta Kappan, 77(3), 200.
  • Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation and interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.
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What Type of Leader Are You?


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With leadership, no two styles are exactly the same.  Each person in a leadership position possesses a unique combination of qualities, talents, skills, and perspectives that form the particular style of leadership he or she demonstrates.  Many different models exist on leadership styles, some more prominent than others.  In 1985, Bernard Bass developed the transactional-transformational leadership model based on 6 specific leadership styles he identified through the course of his research.  These styles are as follows:

Transformational leadership: These forward-thinking leaders strategize to achieve goals for the future success of the company.  They focus on team-building, motivation, and collaborating with employees at different levels within an organization to accomplish progressive and positive changes (Ingram, 2013).  Leadership styles that pertain to transformational leadership include charismatic/inspirational, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.

  • Charismatic/inspirational – involves the leader’s ability to engage subordinates and influence them through visionary means (Bass, 1985).  These leaders possess a charismatic quality that earns them referent power and influence (Bass, 1985).
  • Intellectual stimulation – leaders encourage subordinates to think of new ways to solve old problems (Bass, Waldman, Avolio, & Bebb, 1987).
  • Individualized consideration – leaders serve as a mentor to subordinates (Bass, 1985).  They listen, learn, and develop the skills of subordinates while paying attention to their individual needs (Bass, 1985).

Transactional leadership: These leaders are mostly concerned with keeping the organization running smoothly, use various disciplinary methods and incentives to keep employees motivated to do their best, and are mostly concerned with how the organization runs in the present time (Ingram, 2013).  This leadership type is characterized by the transactional exchange of rewards and punishment for good or bad performance.  Leadership styles that pertain to transactional leadership include contingent reward and management by exception.

  • Contingent reward – an agreement exists between leader and subordinates regarding what specific tasks or goals must be achieved in exchange for specific rewards.
  • Management by exception – leaders monitor negative deviations and unmet objectives, and when these occur they exercise corrective action (Deluga, 1990).

Laissez Faire – one other leadership style identified by Bass involves leaders who are hands-off, delegate responsibilities, and allow group members to make their own decisions (Cherry, 2013).  These leaders may provide tools and resources for employees to do their jobs, but subordinates receive very little guidance (Cherry, 2013).  This leadership style can be effective, but only when group members are highly skilled; however, Cherry (2013) states that unskilled employees who lack self-discipline skills will not thrive under this type of leadership.

Each of these leadership styles has positive and possibly negative attributes.  They can each be effective in their own ways.  It is important for leaders to establish and maintain professional boundaries with subordinates but still be approachable.  It is also important to know and understand the goals of the organization itself and make sure that your leadership practices are consistent with supporting or achieving those goals.

Answer in the Comment Section Below:

  • What type of leader do you feel is most effective for you or in your organization?  
  • What type of leader are you?  
  • For transactional leaders, what are ways you have motivated your employees to do great things?  
  • For transformational leaders, what are ways you have motivated employees to think outside the box?

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B. M., Waldman, D. A., Avolio, B. J., & Bebb, M. (1987). Transformational leadership and the falling dominoes effect. Group & Organization Studies, 12(1), 73-91.
Cherry, K. (2013). What is laissez-faire leadership?. Retrieved from
Deluga, R. J. (1990). The effects of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership characteristics on subordinate influencing behavior. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 11(2), 191-203.
Ingram, D. (2013). Transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership definition. Retrieved from

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Fondness and Admiration: Keys to Long-Lasting Relationships

Fondness Admiration

In the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman explains the antidote for criticism and contempt, which are two out of the four main factors that contribute to divorce.  What is this miracle antidote to promoting a healthy and lasting relationship, you ask?  Fondness and admiration!

Following is a quote from Dr. Gottman’s book:

“Fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a rewarding and long-lasting romance. Although happily married couples may feel driven to distraction at times by their partner’s personality flaws, they still feel that the person they married is worthy of honor and respect. When this sense is completely missing from a marriage, the relationship cannot be revived” (Gottman & Silver, 1999).

Set Your Goals
I don’t know about you, but I purchased my copy of this book today.  What price would you pay to invest in the success of your relationship?  Dr. Gottman’s scientific research on relationships is one tried-and-true way to improve your relationships, and I am here to help as well if you would like to Schedule a FREE consultation!


Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work . New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

#Staymarried blog. (2013). Feel the good stuff. Retrieved from

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Relationship Conflict


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In any type of interpersonal relationship, from time to time we run across issues and circumstances that create conflict.  Conflict itself is not the doom of a relationship, and can even make a relationship stronger when handled appropriately.  Pierce (2009) states, “An important component of building a healthy relationship is a strategy for healthy conflict resolution” (p. 61).  Conflict may be the result of differences in opinion, incompatible wants and needs, and unmet expectations.

We often have expectations for other people that we interact with, such as how we believe a person will (or ought to) behave, and these expectations often turn into what is called the self-fulfilling prophecy (an incident occurring because we believe it will).  Reis and his colleagues (2000) explain that this occurs by our expectations influencing our own behavior, which then affects the other person’s behavior accordingly and our expectations are confirmed and reinforced.  Sometimes, when others do not behave in ways we expect or believe they should, this can cause conflict within the relationship.

Our personal perceptions are often the source of misunderstanding and conflict within personal relationships.  How we perceive that others should behave or the intentions behind the actions of others can affect how we respond in turn.  What we must take into consideration is that individuals have their own repertoire of influences that have stored up over their entire lifetimes to cause them to think, behave, and perceive things the way they do, just as you do.  It is important to get an accurate understanding of how a person truly feels or what his or her intentions truly are before we jump to our own conclusions and become angry, disappointed, frustrated, argumentative, and so on.

Conflict within our close personal relationships often takes a toll on us and the relationship itself.  However, Anderson (2005) states that conflict can either be productive or destructive.

  • Productive: Parties listen to each other’s perspectives, empathize with each other, and solutions are found through negotiation and collaboration.
  • Destructive: Issues are left unresolved, one party exerts coercion or dominance over the other, parties act on impulses of anger.
Dr. John Gottman (1994), one of the leading researchers on relationships, provides the four most predictive characteristics of a relationship doomed to fail in his bestselling book on why marriages and other romantic relationships succeed or fail.  These are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
  • Criticism involves attacking someone’s character or personality, usually in the attempt to make someone right and someone wrong.
  • Contempt is an emotional mixture of anger and disgust and regards the other person as inferior or worthless.
  • Defensiveness occurs when an individual attempts to defend him or herself from a perceived attack and often involves placing blame on others while failing to take personal responsibility.
  • Stonewalling involves withdrawing from the interaction and closing oneself off from another.

The key to productively resolving conflict in relationships is to always maintain respect and consideration for the other parties.  Try to see the situation from other perspectives and not just your own, and be willing to compromise when needed.

Set Your Goals
If you feel like you need help building new strategies for managing conflict within your own personal relationships, contact me today to Schedule a FREE Consultation.  I am here to help individuals improve personal relationships in a confidential and nonjudgmental setting and am committed to helping clients set specific goals to see measurable results.


Anderson, E. W. (2005). ABCs of conflict and disaster: Approaches to conflict resolution. British Medical Journal, 331(7512), 344-346.

Gottman, J. M. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail: And how you can make yours last. New York, NY: Fireside.

Pierce, K. (2009). Healthy conflict resolution. Physician executive, 35(1), 60-61.

Reis, H. T., Collins, W. A., & Berscheid, E. (2000). The relationship context of human behavior and development. Psychological Bulletin, 126(6), 844-872.

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Five Qualities for a Healthy Relationship

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Striving for success is only natural when it comes to our lives, but there are times or situations in which we might be at a loss as to how success can be achieved.  Personal relationships is a hot topic for acquiring success, and yet more than half of all marriages still end in divorce.  Something tells me we aren’t getting it.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog article on the Five C’s of a Successful Relationship and recently included in my 3 Month Coaching Program on Personal Relationships.  While this list may not be exhaustive on the qualities a successful relationship should have, it is a start to building a firm foundation that you can start building on or a guide to help you recognize what is working and what isn’t.

The 5 C’s of Healthy Relationships
While there are any number of things each individual brings to the table when entering into a relationship creating the dynamics that evolve into how successful the relationship is, it is ultimately up to both parties to do what it takes to make a relationship work (Locker, 2011).  The 5 C’s that contribute to a healthy relationship include commitment, communication, compromise, consideration, and compatibility (Locker, 2011).

Commitment: The act of committing to something involves a pledge or a promise an individual makes with him or herself that he or she is willing to meet an obligation.  Commitment in a personal relationship involves making a pledge to yourself as well as to the other person that you are willing to do what it takes to make this relationship succeed.

Communication: Since mind-reading has not quite made it to human evolution just yet, it is important that we effectively communicate our wants, needs, and intentions to others as well as making sure we receive accurate information from others on what they are trying to communicate to us.  Communicating also involves sympathizing (or empathizing) with the other person’s side, and actively listening, not just hearing what the other has to say.  A few things to keep in mind are that communication is not just what you say, but how you say it as well, with your tone, body language, and factors that we may not be aware of at times.  We also need to take into consideration that actions speak louder than words, and we often communicate messages to others (as well as receive messages from others) based on our actions.

Excerpt from Personal Relationships 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program (Locker, 2013):

It is not enough that we communicate with others.  We must be able to communicate effectively to get our own point across and to interpret what others are trying to say accurately.  Aziz (2003) gives 3 elements of communication to others that are key to communicating effectively.  These include consideration of 1) what message you are trying to get across, 2) who you are speaking to, and 3) the medium or environment in which the message will be given.  Aziz (2003) states that your audience or the person receiving your message is the most critical factor to consider.  When considering who you are communicating to, it is important to think about what mental filters they perceive your message through.  Other elements include the aim, or what consequences you hope to achieve from what you say, and your attitude that you approach the situation with, according to Just (1997).

Always keep in mind that your spoken words are only a small fraction of what you are communicating to others.  It is important to remember that actions speak much louder than words.  Other ways you communicate are through tone, the speed at which you are speaking, your facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal communication that sends messages to others, often without realizing it.

On the other hand, it is important to be able to listen to others to interpret accurately the messages they try to get across to you, and to ask for clarification before jumping to conclusions and getting angry.

Compromise: This word often has a negative connotation, but compromise is very important in any relationship.  What is important to keep in mind is that compromise does not mean that one person gives in while the other gets his or her way.  Compromise involves both sides making sacrifices to come up with a solution you both can live with.  If you can get creative enough, you just might find a solution that works for both sides and works out even better for you than your original stance.

Excerpt from Personal Relationships 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program (Locker, 2013):

Rosenblatt and Rieks (2009) define compromise as, “a settlement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions” (p. 196).  The idea is to collaborate with the other person to create a resolution to your disagreement (Rosenblatt & Rieks, 2009).  This does not involve one person giving in while the other person gets his or her way, as this can cause resentment and even vengefulness in the future.  However, coming up with a solution that may not serve one’s own self-interest but does serve the interest of the relationship can have positive outcomes, as both individuals feel a sense of commitment and contribution to the relationship.

Consideration: You need to be able to see the other person’s perspective and sympathize with where he or she is coming from.  Consideration is about being unselfish and considering the feelings, desires, and intentions of the other person.

Compatibility: You may have all the other factors just mentioned down perfectly, but do not underestimate the power of compatibility.  If you are incompatible with another person, you will find it hard to reach common ground on issues large and small.  While this may not be much of an issue in the beginning of a relationship, the further you continue, the more it will become clear that a firm foundation is needed to really succeed.  People need to have common interests, values, and goals to be able to work together and grow together as time goes on for the long-term.

Excerpt from Personal Relationships 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program (Locker, 2013):

Compatibility is another important aspect of personal relationships.  When we have similar interests and values as others, we tend to have less conflict and more sense of ease within the relationship.  Houts, Robins, and Huston (1996) state that people who are compatible with each other are inclined to do things that are pleasing to themselves as well as the other simultaneously, which is rewarding for both parties.  When people are compatible, they have a higher ratio of rewarding or positive interactions in contrast to punishing or negative interactions (Houts et al., 1996).  Houts and colleagues (1996) state, “As a result, compatible couples are more motivated to continue the relationship and develop commitment” (p. 9).

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Aziz, K. (2003). Effective communication. Training Strategies for Tomorrow, 17(5), 7-9.

Houts, R. M., Robins, E., & Huston, T. L. (1996). Compatibility and the development of premarital relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 58(1), 7-20.

Just, K. (1997). The ABCs of effective communication. Hospital Materiel Management Quarterly, 19(2), 33-36.

Locker, N. R. (2011). How to have a successful relationship. Retrieved from

Rosenblatt, P. C. & Rieks, S. J. (2009). No compromise: couples dealing with issues for which they do not see a compromise. American Journal of Family Therapy, 37(3), 196-208.

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