090 -Relationship Skills: Tips to Improve Relationships
Counselor Toolbox

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Relationship Skills
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs
~    Steps for Building Empathy
~    Tips for overcoming the most common communication barriers
~    Tips for fair fighting
~    Tips for Sweetening Your Relationship
~    Tips for a Closer Relationship
~    Tips for Compromise
~    Tips for Getting Your Needs Met
~    Tips for Giving Emotional Support
~    Tips for Being More Thoughtful

Individual Differences
~    Extroverts vs. Introverts
~    Sensing (Details)vs. iNtuitive (Big Picture)
~    Thinking (True/False) vs. Feeling (Good/Bad)
~    Judging (structure) vs. Perceiving (spontenaeity)
Expression of Love
~    The Five Love Languages (Gary Chapman)
~    Receiving gifts
~    Quality time
~    Words of affirmation
~    Acts of service (devotion)
~    Physical touch

Common Communication Barriers
~    Over-explaining
~    Being vague
~    I’ll pick you up this afternoon
~    You are so insensitive
~    We never spend quality time together
~    Mind reading/Assuming (You always want…)
~    Distractions
~    “You” driven language
~    Universal statements (Always, never…)
~    Blaming
~    Only noting the negative

Effective Communication
~    One person talks and the other listens…and only listens
~    Stay seated
~    Talker
~    Owns feelings, desires, opinions
~    Uses objective, observable terms
~    Sticks to one thing at a time
~    Listener
~    Paraphrases what is heard
~    Verifies accuracy, THEN responds
~    Repeat the process until the issue is resolved
Tips for Sweetening Your Relationship
~    Love is a combination of emotions and actions including talking, compassion and trust.
~    Rewrite your vows/promises
~    Have a re-commitment ceremony
~    Imagine what life would be like if your partner were gone
~    Communicate to your partner in his or her love language
~    Receiving gifts
~    Quality time
~    Words of affirmation
~    Acts of service
~    Physical touch
~    Make an effort
~    Write down a list of things your partner could do that would make you feel loved/happy and exchange them.
~    Remember (or get Google to remind you) of birthdays, anniversaries, or just happy occasions and celebrate
~    Celebrate for no reason
~    If you have a disagreement, take a step back and try to see it from your partner’s point of view

~    Don’t let fear of being vulnerable or abandonment undermine you
~    Share hopes, dreams and fears.
~    If becoming vulnerable makes you also become critical and defensive, identify and work through the reasons
~    Think back to hopes and dreams you shared when you were dating…make it happen
~    Remind you partner of the qualities you love about them.
Building Empathy
~    Empathy vs. sympathy
~    Put yourself in their shoes (with their experiences)
~    Identify 3 alternate reasons you partner may be feeling/acting the way he or she is
~    If your child was going through this situation, how would you feel?
~    Remember that what you would want and need is not necessarily what your partner wants and needs.
~    Allow yourself to listen as if your only job is to understand
~    Without preconceptions
~    Knowing that you know nothing
~    Free from trying to create consistency between your feeling/perceptions and your partner’s feelings and perceptions… for now just focus on understanding the unique experience of your partner.

~    Think of a difficult time that you experienced and answer all the questions
~    What was your perception of the occurrence?
~    What was troubling about this occurrence?
~    What were the emotions that you felt at the time of the occurrence?
~    What emotions are being expressed in this moment?
~    What do you need from you (which is often just to be empathetic)?
~    Start by taking time by yourself to practice using these skills on yourself… your ability to understand your own emotions will directly affect your ability to empathize with your partner.

~    When your partner is relaying a difficult experience, listen to be able to understand:
~    What was his/her perception of the occurrence?
~    What was troubling about this occurrence?
~    What were the emotions that he/she felt at the time of the occurrence?
~    What emotions are being expressed in this moment?
~    What does he/she need from you (which is often just to be empathetic)?
~    This can also be practiced in group or at home using media clips of people arguing.
Tips for a Closer Relationship
~    Use relationships to teach you how to be whole (and not require another person to complete you)
~    See (and accept) your partner for who he or she really is
~    Be willing to learn from each other
~    Be willing to compromise
~    Get comfortable being alone (address abandonment issues)
~    Develop awareness of why you fight (your stuff, his stuff or y’alls stuff)
~    Own who you are
~    Embrace ordinariness
~    Let go of expectations and embrace what is
~    Converse…Plan conversation starters

Tips for Compromise
~    Create a win/win
~    Compromise based on priorities
~    Compromise based on needs
~    Compromise between extroverts and introverts
~    Compromise between detail oriented and big picture people
~    Compromise between rationally focused vs. emotionally focused individuals
~    Compromise between structured vs. spontaneous people

Tips for Getting Your Needs Met
~    Know what you need and define it in observable terms.  “I want to be happy,” isn’t helpful.
~    Don’t expect mind reading
~    Assertively state and own your feelings wants and needs
~    Communicate in the person’s preferred learning style
~    Remember it is about balance.
~    Sometimes you have to meet your own needs

Giving Emotional Support
~    Not everyone is comfortable with feeling words.  Reflect their vocabulary.
~    Don’t assume you know why someone feels a certain way.
~    Emotional support can be shown through actions, not just words.
~    Help eliminate vulnerabilities
~    Ask!  (Brooklyn 99  Terry & Rosa)

Being More Thoughtful
~    Pay attention and ask what he or she likes (and dislikes)
~    Do things you don't want to do
~    Keep a running list of gift ideas
~    Write sweet notes/sms, or just a thank yous
~    Remember important dates
~    Truly listen to what your SO has to say
~    Be there during tough times, even if you're busy
~    Start some personal rituals for the two of you: Daily, Weekly, Annual

~    Relationships are complicated.
~    Basic areas to focus include
~    Compassion/Emotional Support
~    Effort/Thoughtfulness
~    Compromise
~    Embracing what is good instead of focusing on what is wrong.

Recommended Readings

~    Empathy Building Exercise  http://www.thoughtsfromatherapist.com/2011/06/08/empathy-building-exercise-%E2%80%93-learning-to-be-empathetic-%E2%80%93-increasing-emotional-understanding/
~    Improving Relationships: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-to-create-a-strong-intimate-relationships/

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