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Relationship Optimization

In our previous post, we talked about why family relationships are important for Warfighter performance. This week, we’ve identified strategies for enhancing one’s relationships, based on the latest research we’ve read. Just like our bodies, relationships can be made stronger with training.

Think about adding the following strategies to your “relationship fitness plan.” They can be used in any close relationship: with your partner, your child, other family, or friends.

Relationships need work before problems arise.

Many programs, like the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program and the One Shot One Kill v2.0 Resilience Program, address this concept of prevention. Just as you don’t start training for combat the day before a mission, you shouldn’t start relationship training after issues arise. Your relationship fitness plan should include practicing these behaviors:

  • Appreciate your loved ones through words or deeds.
  • Obey the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When in a fight, stop and ask yourself what the true message is behind the other person’s words.
  • Listening openly rather than reacting to angry behavior can head off an argument.
  • Communicate using “I-statements,” rather than blaming statements beginning with “you.” Start with an “I” and clearly state what you want to say from your perspective.
  • Keep negative comments and interactions to a minimum. For every one negative comment or interaction, five positive ones are needed to balance it out.
  • Soften your “start-up.” Conversations that turn into fights can be predicted from the start of the conversation. If a conversation begins with angry tones, high-pitched voices, or aggressive behavior, it can quickly escalate into an argument.
  • Keep things in perspective. Focus on the bright side.
  • Have fun. Remember to laugh together and have fun.

Relationship problems don’t go away by ignoring them.

Being proactive by addressing recurring problems can go a long way towards fewer problems and creating less stress in the long-run.

Timing is everything.

Be strategic about when you address problems. When emotions are high, you’re more likely to say things without first thinking them through. With sensitive issues, take a break and address the issue when everyone is calm. At the very least, break from the argument for the time it would take to drink a glass of water.

Practice good relationship skills during the good times, so you’re prepared in difficult times.

Just as Warfighters constantly train in order to be prepared for the difficulties they might encounter, relationship skills require practice before they’re put to the test in stressful situations.

The above strategies can help your relationships be positive forces in your life – and with less stress and more love, you can handle the rest of your life better.