Managing Morale


“Low morale comes with a high price tag”

Relationship altitude

Relationships face a number of growing pressures over time that tax the capabilities of the individuals within them and inhibit the ability of the partners to enjoy and benefit derived from being in the relationship to begin with. These can be as simple as long-days, the day-to-day stresses of a job, endless household chores and just loosing focus or more acutely being burdened by mounting pressures and expectations found throughout life in and outside of the relationship. They can often be found in latent and unresolved issues or conflicts, or the feelings associated with invalidation when we’re taken for granted and our contributions are ignored, forgotten or unappreciated. It is important to recognize that morale is a nebulous emotional energy state, and like all energies, it is in constant flux depending upon how that energy is utilized. It can drive a relationship forward or serve as the fuel that feeds relationship discontent depending upon how those states are managed. Good leaders and managers know that morale is their responsibility and is established from the top down and that morale has both an individual and group (relationship between parties) component to this human phenomenon. That is, the leader within any organization is responsible for managing an individual’s individual morale and then managing the morale for the relationship- people first, relationship second. Simply put, sick people don’t make for healthy relationships or organizations and great leaders manage this.

Leadership first

Short-term fixes create long-term problems, because they don’t address the issue. Energizing and motivating your team has its place, but should not serve as the foundation of morale. As the leader of the relationship it is your responsibility to set the tone, nature and culture for the morale of the relationships. It is determined by your overall presence, your masculinity as a man, through your thoughts, actions and the manner in which you carry yourself. It will be represented in the manner in which you respond and meet her hypergamous nature. How you demonstrate composure, reserve and calm, through steady control of emotions and maturity. It will be displayed in your confidence in knowing your capabilities, your belief in those skills and the actions you take proving those attributes. They will be on display when you face adversity, showing resilience in a tendency to recover quickly from a set-back, shock, or adversity and in maintaining purpose and focus when stressed. Good leaders know that emotions and emotional energy are contagious; that they are contagious between people. As such, they will utilize those attributes to their favor, by leading by example, showcasing and sharing positive traits and nipping negative traits in the bud, before they spread and grow. In this regard morale is viewed as a culture, not a band-aide, as your partner will need to have leadership they can believe in, before they can have faith in the relationship.

Individual morale

The world’s best militaries recognize that they must first respond to the needs of the individual soldier before that soldier can or will attend the needs of the higher organization. They do this by assuring that the individuals physical and emotional needs are met though good supply lines, hot food, sound cover, rest, relaxation and recovery, news from home, the quality and care of the equipment they will be utilizing and the training and support they receive. They further recognize that quality of life is serious business to their organizational mission and therefore have a uniformed approach to the care of the workforce and their families. That’s why on every major military installation you will find a myriad of services and infrastructure to support, sustain and strengthen the individual and their families. Likewise in relationships, we need to care for our partners first, before we consider caring for the relationship. We must have a firm understanding of our partner’s emotional and physical needs and address those needs. In turn we must then go beyond just the basics and attend to the quality of the life of our partner, as well as their basic needs, before we can expect them to focus on the relationship and relationship goals.

Relationship morale

In actively managing a relationship and the business of it, we must make certain that the relationship sticks to its core purpose. In simple terms this is benefits management. Are you actively managing the reasons why you and your partner are in a relationship with each other? Are those reasons being met? If this was a business model, are your employees getting paid on time? Are they compensated appropriately? Are they able to take sick leave and vacations, as needed and desired, or is that benefit package in name only, due to workload and staffing constraints? Is the working culture what was promised when they interviewed? Are their contributions and work efforts recognized and rewarded? Do they feel that they make a difference? As a corporation how competitive are you? Every high-tech company offers stock options, but how many offers high morale? Is it any wonder that those that do are coveted work places, draw superior talent due to it and tend to be more successful because of it? How does your relationship brand and culture compare? It should come as no surprise that measuring relationship satisfaction is correlated to relationship longevity… just how far have you prepared your relationship to go?

Soliciting Feedback

Soliciting Feedback image

“Houston we have a problem…”

Receiving honest feedback or better yet, soliciting honest feedback is a terribly challenging thing to do initially. Often we are afraid of the answers. We just don’t want our eyes opened to them. We’re afraid of change and the emotional and physical toll on our psyche in accomplishing them. Lastly I feel that we’re also very much afraid of being accountable and taking responsibility for our actions and behaviors in how they affect others and how they affect our relationships. It’s just simply easier to stay comfortable in not knowing, not addressing and not being accountable.

Mind the Sting…

Don’t react to the initial sting of negative feedback, by becoming defensive or guarded. The sting is there to get your attention and to call upon your focus. Learn to recognize it as such. Critical events are confidence-testing junctures and almost always opportunities for learning even though they are moments in which you are managing conflict. With receiving feedback your competence and individual performance are being addressed by your partner as she is expressing her emotional needs. If unsolicited and the more raw, insightful and direct with regards to your long-standing personal traits or behaviors, these can very much trigger self-esteem and self-image issues of the ego in adverse ways. Recognize the value of this opportunity and the information being presented, as it will likely hold value you haven’t addressed or capitalized on and is coming from a trusted source with intimate knowledge of the subject at hand.

 “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them”

The initial shock to your system will dissipate shortly, if you have the appropriate frame of mind and stay positive by living in the moment. You’re a man. This is the time to display those qualities associated with stoic calm, self-control and fortitude of mind. This is your chance to showcase leadership through example and action that you are able to overcome immediate destructive emotions that will limit communication, reduce trust, marginalize respect and deter potential for personal growth. The qualities of being open, receptive and supporting of personal accountability to your behavior and how you make others experience being around and with you, is central to high emotional quotient leadership and diplomacy, which is essential to being successful in our world today.

I’ll take that criticism with a side of understanding, performance optimization and positive incentives, please!

Criticism is not appropriate feedback for a healthy and respectful relationship. Criticism without a better cognitive understanding of the issue being addressed, alternative task performance behaviors options and positive incentives or associations with performance objectives, creates stress and anxieties which left unchecked will fester into a negative relationship spiral of hostility and resentment, leading to deeper future tensions and conflicts. The point of feedback is not just to alert one to an issue, but to provide constructive means of developing awareness of behavioral consequences, alternative strategies, techniques or procedures to mitigate such performances, and to develop a bond between the parties of trust and respect throughout the interaction, which is the hallmark of developing empathy within a relationship.

Nagging is not your life on auto-correct!

If your partner is unaware of the importance of respectful feedback to a relationship , unfamiliar with actually providing constructive and supportive feedback, it is up to you as the leader within the relationship to maintain that boundary issue of respect, consideration and clear communication, by addressing this deficit by teaching and coaching them through the process of it. Often to have effective communication, we have to clear the channels of communication of what is hindering information navigation. Nowhere is this more important than when dealing with personal animosities and incompatibilities while trying to be emotionally supportive within an intimate relationship. We must first establish the patterns and formats of constructive communication prior to actually attempting to communicate.

Be Gracious…

What we do speaks louder than our words… When your partner is providing you sincere feedback, be gracious and extend a strong measure of gratitude by actively listening to what they have to say without distraction, without proffering excuses. Practice all the skills of an effective listener, by having open and receptive body language and posture, kind and welcoming facial expressions and actively encouraging them to continue to discussion the situation, it’s context, the specific performance tasks being addressed, with possible alternative solutions, as well as the incentives to doing so. This respectful behavior shows your partner that you care and respect them. That their concerns matter to you. That they matter to you.


Be aware of becoming defensive and that the more critical the feedback is, the more likely you are to feel defensive. It is completely alright to take a moment and acknowledge that you’re feeling vulnerable and defensive with your partner prior to continuing. Feel free to share that information openly. They likely are to relate that they are feeling the same way in addressing you and bringing it up. It’s common ground. It’s common ground you can work with. It’s common ground you both share in valuing the other. Acknowledging that can reduce the tensions, anxieties and frustrations a great deal prior to continuing.

Check the message

As you actively listen to your partner, seek out opportunities in which you can check and verify your understanding of what they are attempting to communicate to develop a solid consensus of what the real issue is. If you are unclear or unsure of their intent ask and probe for specifics to provide more clarification, until you are sure and they are aware of it. Make sure you are able to communicate back to them the context, the specific performance task in question, what it means to them, how it makes them feel and how its affects their perception of the relationship.

Seek out solutions

Compassionate leaders value others and their input in collaborative problem solving. They will seek out their input in crafting responsive solutions and smart answers to problems. They don’t believe they have and hold all the answers, nor believe that an awareness to a problem is the solution to it. Compassionate leaders have a solid belief that they can find and discover appropriate solutions in conjunction with others, and strengthen the relationship and themselves in the process. Compassionate leaders embrace the power of creativity in navigating challenges. They are able to successfully harness imagination and incentive to drive the engine of change. The power of solution seeking is about your values, confidence and connectedness with the issue and people surrounding them.

 Provide Thanks…

Never conclude a feedback session with “OK.” Much like the Olympic gymnastics, you need to stick the dismount. You need to provide and sincere ‘thank you’ and show your appreciation at their care and consideration, respect and support in voicing their concerns with you. You need to do the same in recognition of that fact. It’s not just good manners, it’s good relationship management.

It may be them, not you…

Not all feedback may be legitimate. You may actually disagree and that’s fine, as long as you clearly understand what your partner has tried to address, how it has made them feel and you’ve been respectful and open to their position and have taken all of it into consideration upon your conclusion. Other times you may not be as sure. At those junctures it would be wise to seek the insights and feedback from others you trust and respect, to gather more information and determine the reliability of the initial insights.

Follow up

While it is highly important to seek solutions to improve, make sure that your partner is prepared to assist you in recognizing when you’re making an attempt at change and to call attention to it while you are doing so in the form of praise, but to benchmark progress to review your performance over time to verify performance modification and acceptance. Doing so will help remove uncertainty which distracts from actual task performance, improve your motivation and lead to more efficient and healthy relationship.

Simple mind reading

When surveyed people were asked how happy they were in their relationship, which was remarkably accurate in predicting the longevity of the relationship over the course of the survey period. Short of mind reading our partners the best alternative is to solicit their opinions directly. Having the self-confidence, courage and integrity to seek their guidance, input and feedback during the relationship can help you mitigate facing the same issues, in a brutal fashion, when she leaves a failed relationship. Either way you’re going to get the feedback, one way or another.

Living in the present

You cannot flourish until you’ve freed yourself from your mind.

Forwards, backwards, with nothing in-between.

It takes a particular man to be able to not only face life’s ups and downs, but to expect them, to chart his life through them, to be able to take a woman’s hand, care for her and guide her as well, a man willing and able to rise to the occasion of being a father and raise that child to be a better individual than he was. You cannot hope to be that man if you are racked by incessant dwelling upon past mistakes, failures and let-downs, or shaken to the core fearing known or unknown risks, obstacles or threats that loom in the future. Resisting these realities is the hallmark of suffering. The only way to prevent that is to firmly be living in the present, to acknowledge reality for what it is, rather than what you’d like it to be, to make room for that reality in your life and to deal with what is at hand and what you can control and affect, while at the same time letting go of everything that you cannot.

Fear and loathing

It is unfortunate that most people require a great deal of pain and suffering to relinquish their resistance to reality and acceptance of it. The pain, anger, remorse that you create that stems from this is always some form of non-acceptance and resistance to what is. The intensity of this pain and misery depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment and your emotional and ego connection to it within your mind that you are unwilling to let go of. These feelings are a symptom of your mind, not life. Life doesn’t suck, your state of mind does.

You cannot find yourself in the past… only the lessons.

It is highly common for people to spend a great deal of time reliving the past. Reliving the past often tends to create thoughts about how we could have done things differently, or better. While it is sometimes useful to review the past for the purpose of learning and improvements by conducting a self-analysis or a relationship autopsy, undue dwelling on the ‘if’s, and’s, should have’s and but’s often leads to a degenerative mental state that compounds natural and appropriate remorse, regret and dissatisfaction with a cancerous, soul-sucking state of depression.

You cannot create the future, but only make room for it.

Equally common is the pattern of behavior associated with excessive concern in anticipating the effects of the future. Doing so is results in a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, which are precursors to outright fear. Constantly examining the ‘what if’s’ takes a tremendous emotional and energy toll with very little resulting yield in return. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t plan or understand the potential consequences of our actions, but that we shouldn’t be paralyzed in the analysis of them. To become so driven by fear that we ultimately live a life that is half lived and having missed out on what could have/should have been in the process.

Free yourself, free your mind.

Most of us are constantly looking to the past, or to the future to define our realities. The results are predictably severe anxiety, depression, stress and other negative emotional states that come to overwhelmingly affect the health and well-being of our lives in ways we often don’t anticipate. In many cases we become so focused and centered on either the past or the future that we become totally unaware of the moment and we are simply not present for our lives. We see this in men who are wrecked and are emotionally still carrying the burden of a failed relationship or the opposite, those that are making themselves physically sick over a relationship they don’t have, with women that are unavailable to them. We see this in men frozen in fear pondering the risk and responsibilities of being a man in this society, whether it’s in the form of approach anxiety, a lack of faith within themselves that leads to self sabotage or genuine fears of the SMP (sexual market place) and the dating environment that leads to relationship avoidance. When we are not living in the present we are rarely, if ever not only not accepting the world around us, but our own nobility and ability, which ultimately becomes your own personal narrative and proven case history. The result is remarkable suffering and a distorted perception of life in some form or another that will play out in every relationship we ever have.

Bring the hurt, the pain and betrayal…

In times of hurt, it is important to feel the hurt, experience the pain, release yourself to it and then let it go. You are not your feelings, but the conscious awareness behind them. In times of fear, let it wash past you without turning your aside knowing you are not defined by your fears, but your reaction to them. In times of betrayal realize that the broken promises, failed expectations and poor behavior choices were theirs, not yours and in no way reflects upon you. The actions of others say more to their values than it ever does yours. It is important to feel the feelings, learn the lessons and carry on. The past doesn’t demand that it be re-lived, only experienced and then remembered. Honor it that way.

Surrendering to the present

When one stops resisting reality, accepts it for what it is rather than what one would like, would have projected or tried to control, by letting reality in and making room for it by letting go of attachments and to truly accept what is, for what it is, one is surrendering to the present. It is at those times in which we are truly in the moment and living in the present. We are living without judgment or comparison to what we wish for and we are free from the twin tyrannies of depressions associated with the past and anxieties and fears surrounding the future. Doing so allows us to be liberated from the incessant dwelling of our mind and allows us to connect intensely to our current situation, without those debilitating distractions. It allows us to listen for the answers that a situation is really calling for that we normally would have never heard otherwise. In the acceptance of reality we are placing ultimate trust within ourselves. We do not need to seek the safety of a harbor when facing a storm. We learn to brave the seas, weather the gales and confidently sail for distance shores.