Do Your Relationship Skills Need An Upgrade Now?

NoraSometimes, it is difficult to realize the need to improve our communicational skills, because we tend to ignore problematic situations up until they explode in our face…and other people are afraid of telling us the ugly reality!

They just go away…If you are in a weird situation where people around you disappear suddenly, with no explanations given, here you have some questions to help you pinpoint the cause:


1. Did one of your best friends begin avoiding you, against your wishes? Still you don’t understand what happened with this person?

2. Have had the feeling that people ignored you or tried to leave you aside at work?

3. Very much loved people began reacting with anger and lashing at you, out of the blue?

4. Are you feeling more isolated today than before and notice having growing difficulties making new friends?

IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO one or two, then we need to talk!

It is probably that people around you are reacting to your communicational style.

Even when you know that you have had a harsh year and sometimes feel justified answering people in a “shooting from the hip” fashion, now it is the time to pay the bill. The consequences are daunting, because once you establish a reputation as someone difficult to talk to, and prone to react aggressively and in self-defense to any feedback, people have to show you that this style is not acceptable. And they prefer to do it silently: escaping, leaving, and abandoning the relationship without a word…..or perhaps after the final, strong confrontation with you.

Crisis time is a wonderful opportunity to think things a new. Perhaps you are ready to stop counterproductive behaviors and attitudes? We all wish to have new behaviors in place of the old ones painlessly, almost by magic. Those attitudes and behaviors, we imagine, will make our lives more satisfactory and fulfilled…..because they will bring us more acceptance, love and company.

Well, YES!!! It is possible to have a new set of attitudes, but you have to be ready to bite the bullet and change! Wishful thinking and magic alone will not do the miracle.

Thinking that it will entail too much work? Let’s see: if you are able to apply ONE small change each week and see what happens…

Let’s call this plan the “MY FOUR WEEKS OF CHANGE.” In each week’s change proposal you will find the target behavior and some easy steps to get to it.


1. Purpose is being a more fair contender.

You have developed the reputation of a harsh critic. Without denying the observational skills that have made you famous, let’s put them to an alternative good use: Identify first in each person a good, positive aspect to be acknowledged.


a) Always begin every feedback session with an appreciative comment, done in a loving way.

b) Remember the positive behavior and mention it any time that is possible. Praise real accomplishments.

c) Then, provide calm feedback on the behavior to improve. Always ask if the criticized behavior can be linked to whatever resources you could provide to improve: role modeling, encouragement, training, etc.


2. Purpose is to prevent negative emotions from blowing up.

You have decided, way ago, that inevitable negative emotions should be left out as much as possible from your interactions. You try either to deny or repress them, with the unwanted consequence that you have sporadic blowing out or anger attacks. This week you are going to let them dissipate without hurt, by following the:


a) If you can’t control your rage, stop escalation, and ask for time off. See if you can identify not the anger, but the hurt feelings….Say: “I’m sorry, this issue affects me and I need time to cool off…”

b) Express how it hurts, with the emphasis on you. Use “I” statements beginning as: “When you do this to me, I feel hurt because…” Avoid blaming, and keep talking about the effects of that behavior on you….be concise describing the effects: “It hurts me because I lose sleep, or security or money if you do this behavior.”

c) If the conversation escalates into angry words, you can de-escalate by talking about how much the relationship, your mutual project or whatever you have in common is suffering. Pain is the other side of the coin of anger. As in “Sometimes I’d prefer not to talk about this aspect of the project, because it bothers me a lot, but we need to clarify where we are.”


3. Purpose is improving your communication skills

Most part of our life’s quality depends on the quality of our communication style. Here are your steps for this week:


a) Watch your language, and begin washing out words commonly used that can be aggressive or inflammatory. If you stick to a description of the facts (at the least the part of the facts you know), your language will be more effective. You would want to use clear, direct statements and not evaluative comments.

b) Avoid using the words “never” and “always” because they tend to stir up emotions and fan emotional fires. These words are obviously untrue, because you can’t prove any length of time so long, and accomplish little in a confrontation, destroying any credibility of the person doing the confronting.

c) Learn to listen. One of more positive behaviors in confrontations is to be sure to really listen. Make a point of repeating to the other person what he said, adding perhaps an acknowledgement of the emotional state: “What you are telling me is that the situation in your company is so bad that you are sure your position will be terminated and that has you in a serious problem concerning the payments of your home”. Difficult conversations require total attention. Listening validates people, and confirms first that their perception is received by you, encouraging them to move into problem-solving.


4. Purpose is becoming the solution-centered person.

To move from being a person isolated from others, to a person who is sought after because she provides good solutions, here are the steps


a) Be the person who does not evade talking about a difficult issue. Volunteer your help by mentioning issues that are problematic, worrisome or sad, in a respectful way. Help other people overcame denial.

b) Be solution centered. It is so easy to deny the problem and go for the “let’s get this over with” conversation instead of the “let’s get to the heart of this problem” discussion. Make the decision beforehand to stay at the table of confrontation until a solution is found and the other person knows that you’ve listened to her.

c) Make a point of being patient. Even if no solution has been agreed, there has been improvement in the fact that people could talk about what worries them, be listened, and had an opportunity to begin thinking about solutions in a respectful environment. All this is already progress! Perhaps that is all what they need to make their own decisions, but you have supported them, and given them freedom to search for their own solutions.

About the Author

NoraYour browser may not support display of this image.Nora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Visit her blog and signup free to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing coaching sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more! Go now to

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