Communication Management

Relationship conversation

“The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

When lines of communications are not open or are not clear it is common for misunderstanding to become exaggerated and overly hostile, developing distrust, fear and anxiety within the relationship. There’s a certain amount of inertia that then must be overcome to start communication which was already difficult to begin with and issues are then addressed at the damage stage, rather than an informative or awareness stage. We simply don’t start to communicate until damage is actually done and resentment has built to the point where avoidance is no longer an option.

So too when we start to evade issues and topics from our partner, when we speak in half-truths or hold back in being honest, open and sincere, we start to drift into a soft form of dishonesty and are shutting down a channel of communication that is critical for the health and welfare of any relationship.

We need to have more than just an ‘open door’ policy with our partners. We need to have already shown and exhibited a forum and willingness to talk about issues of the day, as well as the operations of our relationships, prior to when we actually have a real issue, problem or challenge to overcome.

Nature of Management

Management is about doing systemized methods of time-tested and proven behaviors repetitively over time to get desired results and maintain relationships. Often they tend to be boring and mundane, until the time that they’re not, which is when they are most needed and become so valuable. Communication management is about insuring that interpersonal coordination and interaction with your partner is taking place to resolve issues, stresses, tensions or challenges that the relationship is currently facing, to make sure that the relationship is working effectively and efficiently.

You need to Lead

As a man, it will be up to you to initiate, lead and to manage this line of communication (amongst several others). While we can recognize and appreciate the fact of gender equity between the sexes and should thus come to expect women to be equal partners in managing the lines of communication, a simple fact of biology remains in opposition to this; Hypergamy… and when social conventions and biology clash, biology surely is to win out (nature always wins). Specifically a woman’s sexual attraction trigger of social dimorphism the behavioral traits associated with masculine behaviors of leadership, assertiveness and assuredness, will prevail over her social conventions and desire to be co-equal partners in managing the relationship. She will expect you to lead and will be naturally attracted to men who do. Do not lose out on establishing and maintaining this critical point of attraction within a relationship.

SHE IS YOUR TEAM!

It is critical of any manager to know and understand their team and staff. Make no bones about it, your partner is your team! Let me say it again; SHE IS YOUR TEAM. If she isn’t, if she isn’t someone you would go into business with, someone you trust to represent you, to speak for the relationship and to conduct the business of your relationship in public, you’ve chosen poorly, very poorly and need to reinvestigate your actions leading up to that decision. If she is, you need to acknowledge and validate that by treating her as though she is an essential asset and part of your life, by making time to hear and understand what is going on with her and her world as it relates to her and that she means more to us than being a life accessory in our lives.

Weekly Staff Meetings

One of the most important things a manager will do during the course of the week is to meet directly with their staff and team conducting the planning, organizing, managing, monitoring and decision-making that is required to run the operations of a business, as well as the personal interactions that makes your team feel connected and informed. As a business manager it is incredibly important to go beyond this and make a direct connection and develop a personal rapport with your team members individually. We have to go beyond the basic awareness of someone’s life, to really having a personal understanding and investment with our staff, before we can expect them to truly have one with us. As such there is an amazing difference between asking a co-worker about their weekend and asking them how specifically how ‘Johnny or Jane’ did in their specific after school activities, or whatever it is that is really important to them. We have to know and relate to what is important to them before they will relate with us. We lead by example.

Weekly One-on-Ones

Relationships are no different, except we get the methodologies backwards… we typically know to spend quality time with our partners, talking, sharing, listening and validating them, but rarely do we take a businesslike approach to the business management portion of our lives and the relationship by planning, organizing, managing, monitoring and making decision that needs to take place within the relationship to run smoothly. It is important that we do so and conduct both, separately. Do not mix one with the other, as it is too easy to mistake one emphasis for the other. Quality time is quality time. Business time is for business. Part of management is knowing when to share, bring up or discuss what, at what times and places. It is for these reasons that I believe it is important to set aside regular time each week to solely have a business relationship one-on-one with your relationship partner.

Reservoir of Goodwill

By holding and conducting regular one-on-ones with your partner you’ll develop a reservoir of goodwill, understanding and sound connection prior to needing it. When it’s needed is no time to start figuring out the dynamics of interpersonal communication nor to foster the good will required to sustain it. If you don’t, you are establishing a relationship culture to managing through crisis and conflict management… that’s poor management on your part and likely to be highly unsuccessful methodology, as most failed relationships will attest.

Present, Tested, Vested

Lines of communication must already be present, tested and vested… Those early established communication efforts are a proven commodity, building trust, respect and confidence in future communication needs and requirements, such as time when we need to give feedback or as importantly when our partners need to express a measure of it. Who would you rather talk to a serious issue about with; a partner you’ve never had a serious discussion with, or one who has been open and receptive to a variety of relationship type discussions over time with you?

Pattern of Behavior

Doing so establishes patterns of behavior… regular one-on-ones develop that pattern, provide that opportunity for communication, and can be relied upon to exist in the near future (because our partners can’t always rely on our powers of perception). Small issues can be discussed early, before they swell up into larger issues, due to neglect, ignorance and the age-old issue that problems tend to multiply if left unaddressed. By holding regular one-on-one our partners know there is an open forum for them to bring a topic up in the very near future, relieving the potential for built up tension, frustrations and anger that will ultimately result in a critical confrontation, one which will likely go very poorly if she doesn’t have the skills to hold a minor confrontation, let alone a critical one.

First Step

Opening lines of communications is also an amazing important first step in de-escalating conflict. Just by establishing communications many misunderstandings can be cleared up, understood, corrected and avoided. Trust and respect can be preserved, which should be the cornerstones of any healthy relationship.

Silent Treatment-Word of Warning

Along those lines couples should never give the other the ‘silent treatment’. This will only hinder and deteriorate the relationship by blatantly showing disrespect and invalidating your partner. In a healthy relationship, partners should be able to come together in good times, and bad… We may be angry, upset, & hurt, but our partner should be our emotional safe place to go to. If not, the relationship is in serious trouble and ill-health.

It Works…

While it may seem obtuse, overly simplistic and incredibly boring to make regular time to sit down to lead and discuss the business management of our romantic lives, it does provide the incredibly important frame-work and forum needed to accomplish our relationship goals, to help it move more smoothly and effectively through the rigors of life. Is she not, is the relationship not, are we not worth having a five-minute discussion to clear the air and to manage the life we want?

Providing Validation

Providing validation image

Love is validated in the memories of the past…

 

“I see, I hear, I get”

Emotions heal and anger is soothed when they are heard and validated. So too are the people and the relationship they’re in. Validating is about “not only do I hear what you’re saying, but I get it, I get you.” You are in essence saying to your partner “I see you, I hear you and you and our relationship together have meaning to me.”

Beware the extremes

Communication is an emotional event, especially when emotional needs or personal boundaries are at stake. It is at these times that relationships can come to an inflection point in value and how they are perceived by our partners. While at these points are polar extremes, validating our partner on a regular and continuous basis is at the heart of any intimate relationship.

Even when we disagree

Even when we disagree, validation provides a way for us to communicate the common ground between us. Providing emotional validation shows the speaker that we’re not only accept them, but they are safe and secure in expressing themselves and their thoughts and ideas free of ridicule or disdain.

It’s about leadership

As a man we’re culturally taught not only to provide but to also protect, typically from an external threat, but what happens when the threat and injuries are internal, that originates from within the relationship and by us? When our actions indicate blaming, judging, denying and minimizing our partner’s emotions, we are invalidating not only their emotions, but them as well. These actions leave psychic and emotional wounds which leave our partners feeling rejected, ignored or judged. What does it say about a man’s leadership ability when he makes his partner feel this way on a continuous basis? Should he be surprised when she seeks out comfort, security and acceptance from another man in the casual sex quadrant of life? Do you really think it will stay casual for long? Are we not aware of hypergamy by now?

Relationship cancer

Invalidation disrupts relationships, creates emotional distance and alienation with our partners. It is a drain on the emotional bank account we have established, and one that typically fuels a relationship’s demise. Combine invalidation with a negative feedback loop and the relationship is in a certain death spiral.

‘Knowledge-Doing’ gap

While this knowledge is mostly likely very common, what isn’t is acting on the actual behavior traits of validating our partners on a continual basis. It’s what’s known as the ‘Knowledge-Doing’ gap. We may know something, but there is a big gap in habitual behaviors which are destructive to our relationships.

When listening is an investment

Most people stop listening when they think they already know what the other person is going to say. Other times they stop listening when they’ve gotten the information they wanted, but that’s not why your partner is talking to you… Active listening is when you’re able to accurately repeat in your own words what it is that your partner is conveying or trying to. If you’re not sure, you ask clarifying questions to seek their intent. Validating goes beyond active listening and combines developing empathy and emotional support skills in recognizing that your time, energy and focus attention sends the very real message that your partner is important to you, and what they are saying is important to you, as a consequence. When you listen to build and reinforce a relationship, you’re investing in the relationship and your partner. That’s the validation we’re talking about.

Striking a balance

However there’s a balance to be struck between empowerment the ability to change your state of being, including your feelings and behavior and emotional validation. Men tend to focus on too much empowerment and women tend to stay in emotional validation too long, which inhibits progress in both cases. If you don’t validate sufficiently, your partner will resist your efforts at assistance. If you validate too much, your partner will begin to identify with their issue or symptom (victimhood mentality). Emotional validation without empowerment is ineffectual pity and empowerment without emotional validation leaves your partner feeling that you don’t get them.

 

Providing Feedback

“Without feedback you’re operating in a vacuum”

We live in a world and age of constant feedback, most of it subtle, others not so much. We recognize intuitively, if not rationally, that there is a direct correlation between performance and structured feedback, yet in an area as critical in our lives, such as an intimate relationship, we tend to provide little leadership and guidance to our partners, until a boundary has been breached. A strong, healthy relationship will be one in which both parties are able to grow and develop within a safe, secure and trusting environment. That growth and development will be fostered in part under an observance and guidance of well-meaning and appropriate feedback, geared towards removing conflict and improving the relationship bond.

Checking your relationship altitude

To perverse goodwill and not risk alienating our partner, structured feedback should only occur if there is truly a constructive purpose for it and you have a surplus reserve of emotional goodwill in supply. (There is a major difference between providing your partner feedback and becoming her parent.) You should be well versed in the 4:1 praise-criticism ratio where this is the baseline between respondents stating that they feel “OK” in their relationships and not being “OK”. Going below this ratio level and we are at risk of alienating our partner and ultimately bankrupting the relationship. This simple form of social diplomacy should be a basic guide and indicator of how much emotional reserve is available and potentially how well received your feedback will be, prior to deciding to initiate any structured feedback with your partner. If need be, build your relationship and partner up prior to putting any additional pressures on them or the relationship. Note: this does not mean metering our praise like a ‘yes, ladder’ just prior to going for your ‘sale’ of providing feedback.

A.S.A.R.

Providing feedback in real-time may not be to everyone’s, nor the relationship’s best interests or option. Even though any incident or concern may be fresh in everyone’s mind, discretion is the better part of valor. Rather than focus on a general policy of ASAP in addressing an issue, a better and more appropriate approach of ‘As Soon As Reasonably Ready’ (ASAR) should be considered. This gives you enough time to collect your thoughts, prepare them and to initiate the discussion in a calm and reasonable manner, aka ‘like a man’.

Value Follows Energy

How you approach a critical conversation, how you initiate it, the tone and attitude of your words and the nature of your body language matters more than what you say to your partner. The first few seconds of the interaction sets the tone for everything that follows, whether your partner feels under attack or is being guided and received by a loving and caring hand. It is important to remember that value follows energy. Where is your emotional state when addressing your partner? Is it loving? Is it controlling? Is it angry? Is it upset? Is it condescending? Learning to control the emotional state of the conversation will do more for helping to direct the consequences of your conversation, than your words ever will.

A Spoon Full of Sugar

Un-prepare content is rarely palatable. In conveying your thoughts make sure to infuse and express appreciation for your partner. Doing so not only takes off the rough edges of the topic but adds fuel and incentive for initiating change. It is also important to express concern regarding the nature of relationship, as this discussion is about avoiding breaching potential boundaries or failed expectations, which will have a much greater damaging effect to the relationship if left un-addressed. You must be sincere in this regard. It communicates that you care and have respect for your partner. Without it you’re unlikely to foster and empower change.

The Power of “I”

Before launching into the specifics of your concerns it is vital that you place it in context. This is about how you feel. This is about what you have observed. This is what you are noticing. These concerns are about your perceptions. Make sure your partner understands that, by addressing your concerns with “I” statements. Once you have done so, then you are free to address your specific concern, while focusing on the behavior or actions in question. It is important to never make this about your partner, but upon specific behavior or issues. No where during this is it appropriate to bring in snarky comments, sarcasm or character attacks. Lead the relationship by example.

Channel Dr. Phil

Having just communicated the issue of concern, but before actually making your request for change, elicit your partner’s input into the situation. What’s driving the behavior? Why do they feel it’s appropriate? Are they aware of how this makes you feel? In conducting any emotional needs communication it is important to be honest about your own needs, while at the same time validating your partner’s, by providing respect in understanding them by applying the techniques of active listening, prior to soliciting change or proffering specific suggestions of alternative behaviors and collaboration in doing so.

The Cornerstone

Only after your partner has been heard, understood and re-affirmed are you truly free to make room for change. Having done so, frequently people will fail to verify acceptance or understanding back from their partner in exchange. Confirming that your partner hears, understand and recognizes the importance of what you have expressed, after-all, is the cornerstone of the entire conversation. Check their understanding not only of the issue at hand, but their commitment and agreement to amending the issue.

Bring it together

In going through the conflict management points of determining the context, setting the tone, taking perspective and discussing emotions it is vital to resolve any emotional needs communication with re-affirming your belief in your partner as a person and the value you hold for the relationship in general. We started this process with an understanding of the hazardous half-minute, end with the same sensitivity, caring, affection and appreciation.