By Tami Call and Nancy Stubbs
How do your relationships affect your business?
According to Inc. magazine, “Whether you recognize it or not, all successful small businesses—regardless of what they do or sell—have one thing in common: their owners know how to build and maintain relationships.”
Whether it’s your vendors, your spouse, your clients or your kids, every relationship you have can affect your business—for better or for worse.
But the truth is good relationships take work. They require focus and attention.
The good news is that small gestures can make all the difference.
Here are three simple ways you can create better relationships—at home and at work. They work everywhere, with everyone. And they work QUICKLY to change strained relationships into comfortable ones.
Tip #1: Acknowledge the Good in Others
Whether it’s your spouse leaving the cap off the toothpaste or a colleague who talks endlessly without listening, the little things can drive you crazy. When a relationship is strained it becomes easy to focus on every little thing the person does wrong…or everything they forget to do. Once you begin to focus on the negative, your relationship goes downhill from there.
So what’s the solution?
Focus on the positive and acknowledge it. ..OUT LOUD, intentionally, and often.
Here’s how you can acknowledge the good in others:
Step 1: Look for something they have done right.
Step 2: Actively notice their good behavior. (Make notes if you must!)
Step 3: Seek them out for a face to face conversation.
Step 4: Tell them specifically what they have done well and why you appreciate it.
Here’s what it looks like in real life:
Tami’s husband came home after a long day at work. But rather than change clothes and sit in front of the TV, he came straight to the kitchen and found her. He took both her hands in his, looked her in the eyes, and said (as he periodically glanced at the notes he’d made on his smart phone), “I really appreciate everything you did last night to get the house ready so we could have guests to dinner. Everything was picked up. The dinner was amazing. And it was nice that we could enjoy time with our friends.”
It was the BEST way to meet after a long day. It was a way to find comfort and safety in each other…what Nancy likes to call “a soft place to land.”
Nancy likes to wrap up her work day and be ready to greet her husband at the door with a hug and a “Glad you’re home.” Old-fashioned maybe, but why let go of what works?
She says it is about positive communication…acknowledging and appreciating.
No Hand Holding Required
Obviously you’re not going to take the hands of your UPS guy, gaze into his eyes and thank him for being on time. (At least we hope not!) But you can easily express your appreciation even without romance or handholding.
We know that not everyone finds this sort of conversation comfortable or easy. So to help you out, Tami’s husband has contributed his list of phrases, straight from his smart phone, to help you formulate what you might say to your spouse, business partner, colleague or employee.
Download the List of Appreciative Phrases HERE.
All you have to do is follow the steps above and fill in the blanks!
Tip #2: Listen Beyond Words
Communication at work and at home is often lacking. We’re all buried in our computer screens and handheld devices. Determining exactly what’s going on in our most important relationships is getting harder every day.
Not everyone is comfortable sharing how they feel, what they think or what they really want. To truly build your relationships, you have to listen to what goes unsaid.
In order to listen to the complete message people are sending, you’ll need to pay attention to more than just words:
Eye Contact. Do they look you in the eye? If not, why might they be avoiding eye contact? Is there anything that has happened between you that might be causing conflict or discomfort?
Sentence Length. When people who are naturally talkative start giving you short answers like yep, uh huh, sure, fine or great, that could be a signal something is amiss. Again, think about your previous interactions. Is there something that needs to be addressed? If they are excited and seem to go on and on, tune in to what they are excited about!
Tone of Voice. When they speak, do they sound genuine? Sarcastic? Excited? What is their tone of voice telling you?
Body Language. Do they appear open and available? Do they express kindness or affection through a friendly handshake or a touch on the arm? Or are they distant, aloof and hard to reach out to (both emotionally and physically)?
Think about the last conversation you had. Is there any message beyond words you may have missed?
Ask for More Information
In many cases, people would love to talk but they’re waiting for an invitation. When you’re not sure what’s going on, trying asking for more information:
• You don’t seem yourself. What’s going on with you today?
• I notice you’re giving short answers. Is there something I’ve done? Something wrong?
• That sounded pretty sarcastic. What’s up?
As the Bible says, “Ask and ye shall receive.”
It works in relationships too. Try it!
Tip #3: Practice Daily Devotions
According to a study published in Psychological Science, exposure to religious themes and concepts helps people exercise greater self-control and make better decisions about their behaviors. When you practice daily devotions, either alone or with your spouse, you increase your patience, tolerance and kindness toward others—great for your relationships both at work and at home.
According to the Journal of Extension, “Couples who are active in their faith are much less likely to divorce.” A simple way to practice your faith together is through prayer and devotions, which Nancy and her husband practice daily.
They like to read the Bible aloud and have taken turns chapter by chapter through the Bible. They have listened to the Bible on audio and worked their way through a few different translations.
One time they read a New Century Version Bible edited by Max Lucado with devotions on each page by different authors that went with the scripture on the page. Nancy says, “It took longer but was really interesting.”
In addition to studies on books of the Bible or special topics, they have also enjoyed some daily devotions for couples and have even read books aloud together on marriage building.
Some of their favorites are:
• 15 Minute Devotions for Couples by Bob and Emilie Barnes
• Daily Marriage Builders for Couples by Fred and Florence Littauer
• The Resolution for Men and the Resolution for Women from the movie Courageous. For study material visit www.Iamcourageous.com.
• The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman with a find your love language quiz and study guides at www.fivelovelanguages.com
• Life Overflowing by T.D. Jakes is 6 Pillars for Abundant Living from Ephesians.
On weekends and holidays they take a little more time to discuss what we are learning or may use the time for some of the difficult communication that is necessary for a healthy relationship.
(Learn more about daily devotions for couples from Nancy at: http://www.valuethevows.com/2014/10/daily-devotions/)
Little Things Go a Long Way
No matter what relationship it is—spouse, employee, vendor, boss or business partner—little things go a long way. Appreciation, listening and living the gospel with patience can change the atmosphere of your relationship. They will change the way you think and feel about others. And that is a change that can begin to make all the difference in the world.
Meet Contributing Writer Nancy Stubbs
To read more about keeping your promises, download “Make, Keep and Honor Your Vows”. Nancy Marie Stubbs is the Publisher and Editor of Value the Vows–a faith based community of brides and wives striving to be all they can be and to create the best marriages according to God’s plans. http://valuethevows.com