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Ralph Teller

What are the Secrets of Good Relationships?

by Ralph Teller

What Makes Good Relationships Work

It's well established that having positive relationships is important to good mental and physical health and longevity. There are strong correlations of long lasting conflict to illness and social, emotional and intellectual under-functioning. Researchers have found that adults in a healthy long lasting marriage are healthier and live longer.

What are the secrets of good relationships in marriage and among friends, parents, children, coworkers, bossess and employees, business partners and neighbors? That is an age old question. Dr. John Gottman, a University of Washington professor of psychology, put that question to scrutiny in an interesting research project that has been ongoing for over 30 years. Through his extensive research, Dr. Gottman has isolated certain factors which help determine good relationships. Through these factors, he has been able to determine with 94% accuracy whether a marriage relationship will survive. These factors are common to maintaining all good relationships.

His research found that the one factor that had to be present in all successful relationships was the 5 - 1 ratio of positive to negative experiences.

How to Create a 5 - 1 Ratio of Positive to Negative Experiences

People that have 5 positive interactions with another person to 1 negative interaction have better relationships, whether they be with spouse, friends, parents, coworkers, neighbors or within the work or business environment. Accomplishing this 5 - 1 ratio takes time, effort and focus. Here are some factor which will help you accomplish this 5 - 1 positive to negative experience ratio:

  • - Maintain an Internal Positive Life Attitude. Maintain a positive attitude about your life and prospects for your future. Your positive attitude translates into creating a positive environment to develop good relationships. Life has its down and losses. Many things out of your control can cause loss, grief and sorrow. However, your attitude in how you deal with life's setbacks is completely under your control. Is your glass half full or half empty?
  • A positive attitude is easier to maintain when you recognize that the trials and challenges we all face are the maturing process that we all must go through to grow. Feel life's feelings, the good one and bad ones. Learn from your trials and mistakes and when the time is right move on.
  • - Create a Safe and Playful Environment. A sense of humor and playfulness makes for safe environment where people can relaxed, open and engaged when with you.
  • - Nurture Fondess and Admiration.Nurture the good characteristics in your marriage or friendship or work partners.
  • - Emotional Banking System.We are driven by emotions. Connections are made at an emotional level. Relationships are kept positive and viable when positive interactions are deposited and stored in another person's emotional bank. When negative interactions happen, their emotional accounts are not emptied or overdrawn.
  • - Create a 'Love Map'. Pay attention to what people are interested in, love and enjoy. Gain insight into other peoples needs, hopes, concerns and goals to see how you may be of help. Take time to get to know someone.
  • - Place a 'Bid'. A 'bid' is the fundamental unit by which we make connections. We bid to be included, gain a sense of control and to be liked. Placing a bid involves taking an emotional risk to make a connection. Fuzzy bids are bids that are unclear and are a defense mechanism to lessen emotional risk. We should be encouraged to take risks and make bold bids.
  • - A Little Negativity is Positive. Relationships are good to test. A little negativity keeps a relationship vibrant and challenging.

Negative Interactions

Keeping a surplus of positive interactions and connections going is important. However, certain negative interactions can be destructive on an ongoing basis. These negative interactions include:

  • - Complain Instead of Criticize. Criticism usually involves attacking a person's personality or character. This attack usually begins with "You" and is a judgment about that person. Criticism is very different from a complaint which is simply a negative statement about something you don't like and wish to change.
  • - Defensiveness. A defensive reaction- making excuses, denying or counterattacks - will more likely either escalate or prolong the conflict and does not solve the problem.
  • - Contempt and Insults. Contempt and insults are an attempt to psychologically abuse another person.
  • - Stonewalling. Stonewalling is a behavoir that signals withdrawal from a relationship.
  • - Negative People. Some people are just much more negative than positive in their life outlook. It can be difficult to maintain positive relationships with negative people, no matter how hard your try or how positive an environment you create. Choose positive people to connect with.

It this author's opinion that forgiveness also goes a long way in building long term relationships. Forgiveness builds acceptance and trust. Having a forgiving personality is also beneficial to emotional and physical health.

More about Ralph Teller. See Ralph's 1Vigor Log Calendar.

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