The Big Idea
Our connections with others are what builds into our overall happiness and improve our productivity.
Questions I Answer
- How can I improve my relationship with my husband?
- What can I do to have a stronger relationship?
- How do my relationships affect my productivity?
- How do I deal with issues with my partner?
Actions to Take
- Watch this week’s video on my TanyaTV channel, “How To Save Your Relationship With Two Words”
- Build and cultivate partnerships. Find moments of mindfulness. Look up from your phone or your computer screen. Pay attention to those people around you. Be present and be there for them.
Key Topics in the Show
The connection between our relationships and productivity
Creating new experiences to feed your relationship
Dealing with issues in a partnership as they come up & allowing yourself space to constructively resolve conflict
Letting go of unrealistic expectations in a relationship
Three keys to creating strong partnerships
Resources and Links
- Related Episode: Episode 086: Creating Connections: Importance of Others
Welcome to season seven of Productivity Paradox from Press, a podcast focused on using productivity not just to get more done, but to accomplish what’s most important. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on cultivating happiness through the power of productivity. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to Press.com/podcast. And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press. This is episode 87. Last week we talked about the importance of connections. One of the reasons why I’ve selected to go a little deeper and talk about partnerships this week is that I believe it’s our connections with others that builds into our overall happiness. Also interestingly, before I launched my Tanya TV channel, I did a big survey, and I had hundreds and hundreds of you submit information to me on what topics you would like me to cover. Overwhelmingly, one of the responses I heard from you was that you wanted to talk more about relationships.
I think that’s a great idea because I think relationships directly tie into productivity, especially in the way that we talk about productivity. Not about doing more, by doing what’s most important. Relationships are one of those things that tend, rightfully so, to be at the top of our priority heat. Unfortunately though, in the busyness of our days, we sometimes forget to pay attention to that as a priority. Partnerships with our significant others, partnerships with our family members, our friends, even our coworkers are important because when we feel like we have a true partnership, we feel freer to focus on what we believe is most important.
We need partnerships to get that important work done and to really ultimately feel fulfilled. There is nothing more discouraging than to have someone in your life that is not a true partner. Someone who does not support you. Because here’s the truth, no one works in a vacuum. Our ability to develop and nurture partnerships with others can determine our success in and outside of work. So many productivity experts talk about productivity solely in terms of work, which I believe is a mistake. Listen, you can bring home the bacon, you can fry it up on a pan, but it doesn’t do you any good if the kitchen is burning down around you.
We need to make sure every part of our lives is running smoothly. That’s what will allow us to be happier and even more productive. Now most of us are not born with the skills to build great relationships. That’s something we develop overtime because relationships are truly alive with our sensitive they are to conditions they need to thrive. Just like a garden, they need attentiveness and they need nurturing. When we’re trying to build up new
©Productivity Paradox Page 1 of 8
partnerships and new relationships, they need time. We have to give them time to be able to take root. They take a while to reach their full potential, just like we’re waiting for fruit to grow and ripen.
Healthy lasting relationships need trust, understanding of each other’s weaknesses and their strengths, and compatibility for both good and bad times. We’re all going to have hard times. It really helps us out to have someone that we can lean on during those times. If you want to grow relationships, the key is to remember what’s important to you and what’s important to others. Now when you’re starting up a new relationship, what’s important to them starts with their name. Remember people’s names. If you’re not good at names, you’ve got to work on that skill and find a system that helps you remember names. Remember aspects of their lives and what’s important to them.
Try to focus in even if it’s just one little thing because that will go even further in making them feel understood and making them feel appreciated and truly acknowledged. The last thing you want is someone that you’re trying to grow a relationship with, someone that you care about to feel like they’re not really being heard. You not remembering things that they consider important is a way for someone not to really feel heard.
We have to feed our relationships well. New and old relationships alike need a healthy amount of creative and interesting opportunities. We want to stop sticking with what’s normal in everyday, the things that are ordinary, and try to experience original and unique things together to cultivate new experiences. When you experience new things together for the first time, that can really help build that foundation like we talked about last week. Plus, creating new experiences helps us to savor time. When we savor time, we build stronger relationships with the people that we’re spending that time with. Now I’m not saying you always have to go and do new and exciting things. There’s a lot to be said for Friday night pizza night and other traditions.
As a matter of a fact, traditions is a thing that we’ll be talking about next week because I do think they’re so important. We don’t want to overwhelm our relationship with excessively new experiences, just like over watering a plant, this can be too much all at the same time. It won’t cultivate the type of closeness that you want, but it is important to every now and then add a little bit of excitement in. Maybe it’s even just as little as going to a new pizza joint on a Friday night instead of the same one you always do. Try to find ways for you to experience new things together.
No matter how good your partnership is, there’s always going to be times where there’s issues that come up. This is true in all relationships whether that’s friendships or coworkers, your significant other. Now while these are all very different levels of partnerships, the way to handle them for
©Productivity Paradox Page 2 of 8
the most part is pretty much the same. We really need to deal with problems as they come up and not ignore them. There’s nothing worse than being in a partnership or a relationship with someone and there’s some sort of issue that the other person is pretending doesn’t exist. No relationship is without its issues.
We all have some baggage. You’re bound to find things that drive you crazy about each other. Some differences, maybe an opinion, or difference in ideas, but you need to deal with these and talk these things through before they grow out of proportion. That’s what happens when we ignore them. They begin to grow on their own. A little bit like a weed. We have to learn to approach these issues calmly. When you approach a conversation with hostility, that other person, they’ll match your hostility or they’ll just shut down all together. That’s not conducive for a relationship. When you are calm, clear and willing to listen, generally the other person mimics that as well. Even if they don’t, even if they get a little bit more excitable or maybe even a little bit angry, you remaining calm helps keep the situation a little more in control. Then eventually when they calm down, they will match your calmness. Really when you approach an issue calmly, it makes it easier to approach these harder topics, which is an essential part of these relationships. When we talk about tough topics, that’s how good relationships grow into great relationships. When you’re open and honest with your opinions, you feel truer to yourself.
This develops understanding and agreements between both people. Being open about differences between you helps prevent them from developing later. I truly believe it is when we partner up and we cultivate relationships with people who are different from us, people who have different opinions or different ideas, that is when we grow. When we only partner up with people who have the same like-minded principles as our own, we get stuck in these ruts and everything becomes ordinary. Try to push yourself to talk about topics that might feel harder because really this does help these relationships to flourish and grow.
Now when you do perceive that your partner has made what in your opinion is a wrong choice or has done something that makes you unhappy, we need to remain compassionate and reassuring. I think it goes without saying that we need to avoid being sarcastic or contemptuous or critical. I want to encourage you to speak directly with your partner about the issue rather than complaining to everybody else. When we go to other people to complain about our partners, that’s a little bit of a violation of that trust we have with each other. You wouldn’t want your partner going around doing that for you.
Make sure that if you have a legitimate complaint, you bring it directly to them instead of bringing it to other people, then remember to be quick to offer forgiveness. We know how good it feels when others forgive us. We can give that gift back to our partners. We have to replace impatient and irritable
©Productivity Paradox Page 3 of 8
tones with some empathy and encouragement. Yes, we have to allow them to do things the way they want to do them, even if it’s at the opposition of how we want them to be done. We need to remember there are other many paths to the same end point. We want to leave room for their opinions and we need to support their choices whenever we can.
Here’s one of the things I think we really have to keep in mind, this to me is a key point when we talk about partnerships, we need to not insist that disagreements be settled right away. While the common advice is to not walk away until the issue is solved and to never go to bed angry, the truth is sometimes a disagreement reaches its height and it won’t be solved until some time has passed, until we allow our tempers to cool down, until we have some time and space to really think through the conversation we’ve just had. It’s okay to go to bed angry.
I know that contradicts everything we’ve heard in the past, but allow yourself some space to truly understand their point of view and to listen. Then you can agree to come back and revisit the issue when you’ve both calmed down. Maybe you need some time to breath or sleep on it. Most of the time things won’t seem so dire when you return back to that issue. On that same note, we all have our own beliefs and values. We can’t expect others to share the exact same path that we are on. We have to find some common ground and allow for some compromise when we disagree. We have to let go of unrealistic expectations for our relationships.
It’s not always going to be sunshine and lollipops. There is no relationship that does not include some arguments and some fighting. Everyone has times where they disagree, so we need to be realistic. That means too letting go of unrealistic expectations for the people around you. We all have ideals of who we think the people around us should be. When you adjust those expectations to be realistic and fair, you’re no longer setting yourself up for disappointment. You’re also setting up yr partner to be truer to who they really are, and I think that’s important as well.
Now I believe there are three keys to creating stronger partnerships, and I’d like to go through those with you right now. The first one is communication. What truly cultivates closeness and understanding is communication. Everyone has a desire to be heard and to be understood. One of the best things you can do for any relationship is to become a great listener. Most of us, if we’re being honest, aren’t great listeners because we’re too busy thinking about what we’re going to say next to be able to listen to what the person is saying. Now when you notice yourself doing this, take a breath and correct the pattern by starting to listen.
We form natural bonds with people who really listen to us and who really hear us. We’re all guilty of this when you have a conversation going on and you’re thinking about, “Oh, I’m going to say this next.” Try to stop yourself
©Productivity Paradox Page 4 of 8
when you experience that and really actively listen. When you’ve listened to what the other person has to say, ask the right questions to generate a true understanding and to really get the conversation going. If they’re sharing something they perceive as important, repeat back to them what they said in your own words and make sure that what you heard makes sense. You can start with, “What I heard you say was,” and then fill in the rest.
When others feel that you’re making a sincere attempt to understand them, they tend to open up more and they share more with us. This is what deepens that relationship. Now this is true if you’re having important conversations with your husband or your kids or your friends or yes, even your boss. That’s a relationship too. That’s a partnership that you have. Obviously it’s on a different level than those that you have in your personal life, but it’s still a relationship that you need to cultivate. Not just because it helps you climb the career ladder, but also because it makes work a more enjoyable and a happier place to be.
When you listen attentively to other’s needs, their desires and concerns, show that you understood them by acting upon what you discovered. Anticipate their needs and do something that brings ease into their lives, instead of expecting them to do it. Now at home, this could be like handling chores that are typically theirs. At work, it could be taking the initiative. Recently I was in a stressful situation and one of my team members asked me if she could take care of one of the parts of the project for me. It wasn’t anything related to her position, but it immediately alleviated my stress and made me feel more connected to her.
As her boss, I appreciated that and I will keep that in mind when I’m thinking through promotions and pay increases and what not. I want to take others with me to the top who are invested in me. I’m sure your boss and you yourself feel exactly the same way. Now when people are talking to you, it’s important to pay attention not just to what they’re saying, but their body language and their facial expressions. We remember when our close friends sensed something is off with us and ask if we’re okay, even if we haven’t told them anything. When someone’s speaking to you, focus not only on their words, but also on their tone and their body language.
This opens the door to deeper, more meaningful conversations and helps develop some trust, which leads to a longer stronger relationship. Communication is the best tool that you have in your relationship toolbox, so use it. Don’t harbor bad feelings towards another person for a long period of time. Use communication. Talk to them and tell them what you’re experiencing and what you’re feeling.
The second key to stronger partnerships is to show respect. A great partnership has to have a high level of respect between both partners, which means you need to be intentional. Respect in my opinion is the most
©Productivity Paradox Page 5 of 8
important foundational piece of any relationship. A lack of respect will keep the relationship from growing or maybe even forming in the first place. When your partner request things of you, try to show up. Now that doesn’t mean you have to do them right away. You don’t have to jump up and do it immediately, but you do need to communicate that you hear them and acknowledge that their request is important. We’re all looking for acknowledgement in our lives. When our partner shows that they acknowledge what we want, it can really make a difference in feeling respected and growing stronger relationships. Now this could lead to them then also doing the same for you.
Showing up for you again and again. When this happens, take a moment and show gratitude. Say thank you and truly appreciate not only what they did for you, but the fact that they did it out of love. You’ll find that this leads to them wanting to do more and more things for you. It’s really important that we not take our partners for granted and show them appreciation on a regular basis. If you want to cultivate your relationship, take a little bit of time each day and find something that you are grateful for for them and let them know what that is. This could be done face-to-face, in a note, in an email or a text, or simply by saying thank you.
It can be really easy to forget to show appreciation, but think of it this way. When we feel appreciated, we feel more connected to the people that appreciate us, right? The same holds true for your partner. Make sure you take time just to give them a little bit of gratitude and a little bit of appreciation. This is true even when our partner is telling us things that we don’t really want to hear. When your partner has a grievance about something you said or did, rather than just trying to convince them that you’re right, learn to listen to what they have to say. Understand that you are human too and maybe you have made a mistake and that’s okay.
That’s a great way to show respect to your partner. I want to encourage you to always show respect for your partner in front of other and show them that you’re proud of them and their choices. Respect them even when they’re not in the room. Don’t take your grievances and your complaints about your partner to other people. Take them to them directly. The only way to truly affect a change is to go to the source, and ultimately that’s a way of showing respect.
The third key to cultivating strong partnerships is to be empathetic, to be aware and sensitive to their feelings, their thoughts and experiences, even if they’re not something that you’ve experienced yourself. We need to be able to empathize with others to be able to work well with them and to create these stronger bonds that we’re craving. By having empathy, we can treat people the way that they want to be treated. We can better understand their needs. Isn’t that what we are all looking for in our partnerships?
©Productivity Paradox Page 6 of 8
One of the things that’s important when you’re being empathetic is to be consistent. We have a hard time connecting with people that we perceive as hot or cold or whose emotions are all over the place. If you’re going through a period where you’re experiencing strong emotions, you need to reach out to others and let them know what’s going on, instead of lashing out or breaking down over small things. The people that we care about, the people that we’re wanting to build these partnerships with, they’ll appreciate your honesty and your openness. They’re more likely to be kinder and more forgiving, and they’ll help you through this rough patch.
That’s exactly what you need. You need to be able to lean on them. When you’ve had a long standing relationship with someone or a deeper relationship, a partnership, it really is easier to lean on them. Don’t feel the need to spill your guts or tell your whole life story to someone you’ve just met or someone you’re just starting to cultivate a relationship with. We need to be able to pace ourselves and build a strong foundation before piling on top of it. Share the deep and emotional things once they’re appropriate and at a level that’s consistent with your depth of relationship.
People who know how to build good relationships share feelings with other by mirroring the emotions of the person speaking. When other people are sharing their emotions, you should absolutely share your experiences to
show that you can relate. Just don’t try to overshadow or compete with their experiences. You need to show empathy and sensitivity, not that your experience was better or worse than theirs. When we’re empathetic with others, it really does deepen those connections we have with one another.
I want to encourage you to build and cultivate partnerships. Find moments of mindfulness. Look up from your phone or your computer screen. Pay attention to those people around you. Be present and be there for them. We talked last week about how relationships are built on quality over quantity, and when you’re present, that is quality time. Show your partner you care by looking away from your phone, from putting your phone away and really pay attention to them. But more than anything else, be your authentic self. People who build great partnerships feel good about who they are and they look for the positive in the world. They truly want what’s best for others and they want to see them succeed. That energy of being comfortable in your own skin, being positive and upbeat, draws others to you.
You don’t build relationships by tearing others down through gossip. You keep secrets others have told you to yourself. Being confident and creating time for the people you care about while looking for opportunities for self-improvement is truly how we cultivate relationships. Don’t be afraid to share your imperfections. We are all beautifully imperfect. I hope this episode has helped you understand how you can grow and build stronger partnerships. Next week we will continue to grow on this idea of happiness
©Productivity Paradox Page 7 of 8
through productivity by talking about the beauty of traditions. It’s going to be a great episode.
I have a free download planned for you. If you’d like to get that, just go ahead and sign up for my newsletter because when that episode goes live next Tuesday, I’ll go ahead and send that download to you automatically. Just go to inkWELLpress.com/podcastemail and you’ll get that download delivered to your inbox automatically. My video this week for Tanya TV is “How To Save Your Relationship With Two Words.” Two very strong, very powerful words that I believe have the possibility of saving and improving anybody’s relationship. If you want to check that out, just go to inkWELLpress.com/ youtube. All right. Until next time. Have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free group, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/group.