Here are five sure-fire-never-fail ways to make your relationships more effective.  And remember, that changing my behavior – working my side of the net – will impact the dynamic of the relationship, even if the other person keeps doing the same unproductive thing over and over.   

1. Shift from Complaint to Request.

Move from a negative and past focus to a positive and future focus.  Criticism is demeaning and one-upping.  Instead, ask for what you want differently.  Make your requests specific, behavioral and reasonable.  Use language that is direct and respectful such as … “I would like it if you would …” or “I would like to make a request.”  Your partner will feel more willing to want to help and thus, you are more likely to get what you want. 
2.  Speak with Love and Savvy. 

If one person in the relationship is in disharmony, than the relationship is in disharmony and is in need of repair.  Ask your partner to engage in the repair process.  Tell your partner what you experienced, what you made up in your head about what you saw or heard, what you made yourself feel about it and what you would like differently in the future.  Once you have done this, let go of outcome.  You have a hit a good ball on your side of the net and you cannot micro-manage or control your partner’s response.   

3.  Respond with Generosity.

Relationships are not a zero-sum game.  Unless I am a boundaryless codependent, if I give to you, I am not depleted.  There is still plenty left for me.  In fact, there may be more left for me.  I do not have to engage in endless bean-counting because when I help you, I help the “we” which helps me.  Thus, assisting my partner from a place of generosity is an act of self-care.  When my partner is in disharmony, I listen with the intent to understand.  I then swallow some humble pie and own my contributions, however minimal they may have been.  I consider his/her request for the future and give whatever I can give. 

4. Practice Gratitude.

Acknowledge the gifts that your partner has offered, even if it is less than or not exactly what you wished for. Learning to grieve what we are not getting allows room for appreciation for what we are receiving.  Ask your partner what you can do to help him/her meet your request. 

5. Cherish the Other.   

This is your partner.  This is your lover.  This is your child.  This is your parent.  This is your neighbor.  This is your business partner.  Remember the gift that this person is to you and relish in the abundance that this person provides in your life.  Like you, they are an ever-evolving, imperfect human being with a back story.  Learn to nourish them and your relationship with time, energy, effort and compassion.  For, it is the sweetest juice of life. Enjoy!   

Which of these behaviors can you begin to practice today?