Posts Tagged ‘relationship building’

Building Connections, Making Memories: Campfires, S’mores & Good Times

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 @ 01:08 PM
Author: admin


Last weekend I went camping with my son and his family. Something magical happens when we gather around a campfire, toast marshmallows, snack on S’mores and notice the star-studded sky arching overhead. Good times! It’s a total break from the routine of our ordinary, very busy lives. We relax. Talk. And when silence falls, it feels welcome and comforting which is good for the spirit, good for the body and good for the mind too. We notice the sounds and smells and appreciate the beauty of our environment with a fresh intensity.

Of course, living in VERY tight quarters also challenges one’s relationship skills. Everybody must choose to reset their needs for personal space and be intentional about finding ways to be helpful or at the very least, to stay out of other people’s way. When it comes to food, what we brought is what you can have. Makes no sense to fuss for what’s at home & not in the camper!

One maxim that serves well is, “Value the relationship more than being right.” It’s human nature to incline to a stance of personal “rightness.” This often gets in the way of getting along, of operating from a “we” perspective instead of insisting on imposing an “I” perspective. Another Intentional relationship strategy is to focus on deliberately building memories, ones that last a lifetime and become stories that get repeated through the passing years: “Remember that time when PJ spotted the mermaids in the river?” (true!–only in Florida, LOL!) and “Remember when Nana’s tube became untied and she started to float away down the river and she couldn’t swim fast enough to get back?” (That really happened; fortunately, my son quickly retrieved me!)

During this upcoming Labor Day weekend, why not plan some family memory-making activity? Can’t get away? Why not build a campfire in the backyard? Or, have a “camp out” in the house complete with a picnic meal and “tent.” (Fitted sheets draped over the backs of chairs make an easy, temporary tent.) Use your imagination. Go on a night hike. Play flashlight tag. Notice the stars while simply enjoying being together. Be intentional about creating a memorable chapter in your family’s history.

Share your ideas and let us know what you created as a family.

Everybody Is A Critic

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 @ 01:07 PM
Author: admin

everybody-is-a-criticWe’re all familiar with the old saying, “Everybody is a critic.” Feedback occurs regularly in life. People hand it out all the time. Often with negative results. Why? Because it is a skill that we rarely teach. As a result, feedback often results in fireworks, hurt feelings and damaged relationships. It should only be offered with permission and it should be free from any hidden agenda. This is especially true in families where we know each other’s hot buttons and vulnerabilities. This inside knowledge primes us for connection; it also means we know how to cut one another to the quick with a glance, a comment or silence.

And few people have been taught the essential distinction between a critique and criticism. A critique strives to analyze and evaluate, to identify merit as well as shortcomings, to strike a balance so improvement can result. Criticism, on the other hand, seeks to find fault. It can turn into shame and strike at our core identity. Most people slip into criticism when they offer feedback. It’s frequently delivered with anger or malice.

As parents, we have several chances each day to provide feedback to our spouses, partners and children. It’s important that we do so with an eye to strengthening the relationship and not on cutting the other person down. Relationships are fragile. As adoptive parents, we must attune to our children. Balance our interactions with our children. Make sure that the scale tips in favor of interactions that create connection. Spend time having fun together, creating memories that last a lifetime. Provide discipline when necessary. Share the wisdom and knowledge, coaching them on how to improve, but offer it sparingly; no one likes to feel constantly judged. (Before sharing any feedback, pause. Make sure that you are delivering information that will help them improve rather than venting your own frustration or anger.)

Before we let the words fall from our mouth we must identify our motive because it will have a significant effect on our word selection and tone of voice. These factors will shape the way our family members will receive our message. Let’s consider an example.

everybody-is-a-criticThink back to the last time you offered feedback to a family member. What was your mood? Were you “in their face” or calm? What was your true intent? How was your feedback received? How did each of you feel afterwards? Was it the result you wanted?

Now imagine a “do over.” How might you improve your result?

Before you answer, let’s explore some guidelines on how to frame feedback. First, it must be accurate, purposeful and empathetic. Second, identify your motive. Are you genuinely interested in helping them? Next, is the timing appropriate? Is the listener in an approachable frame of mind? Are other people present? Remember nobody enjoys having shortcomings pointed out in front of an audience. Children deserve the same privacy boundaries you would want for yourselves.

Before you dish out any feedback, set the stage for success. Choose a time when your child or spouse is like to feel receptive and open. Select a place that is conducive to having a sensitive conversation. Secure permission. Uninvited feedback is likely to be rebuffed or ignored. In fact, it’s apt to trigger conflict.

everybody-is-a-criticOnce you’ve ticked all these boxes, consider how and what you will say. Think H2O*. Begin and end with something positive. Be genuine. Then share your insight. Always conclude with something that is positive. Tackle one thing at a time, piling on the critiques is discouraging and counterproductive.

When offering your critique, follow the “FORMS” method. Ensure your feedback is Factual, Observable, Reliable, Measurable, and Specific. Base feedback on the current event and present moment not on past failings or actions. Avoid language such as always and never. Speak calmly and neutrally. Then let it go. Give them time to evaluate and absorb the information.

everybody-is-a-criticParental behavior provides a clear model for children to follow. In order to teach them how to provide feedback, make an important distinction. Are you offering criticism or a critique? Be brutally honest with yourself. Motive matters. A lot.

Like all skills, successfully providing constructive feedback takes practice. Create opportunities for children to do this. For example, name one night each week “Food Critics Night.” Tell them you want mealtimes to be better for you and them. (Mutual goal!) Remind them that they must frame their answers with kindness. (Empathy!) Pass out notepaper and ask them to rate the food. (This shows them you value their opinion.) Provide categories like, eye appeal, flavor, what they liked most, what they liked least, and if they’d like to have it again. (Helps them focus on specifics.)

Your response to their answers will show them how to receive feedback. Keep in mind that your request for feedback demonstrates that it is not to be feared. In fact, it can be a welcome and useful way to gather information. “Negative” feedback is one person’s perception, not an attack on you personally. Feedback is not good or bad, right or wrong. It is simply information about how we are in the world and how someone perceives us. Listen to the feedback. Evaluate it. Integrate it. Or, toss it!

Of course, if you receive similar feedback from several people, that might suggest an adjustment would be appropriate.

*Adapted from material    © 2003 Resource Realizations

Healthy Relationships Grow from Intention and Commitment

Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 07:04 PM
Author: admin

Healthy Relationship Grow from Intention and CommitmentI am meeting my fellow GIFT coaches this week in Sedona. Because we reside all across the US,  we believe it is important to gather in person at least once a year. Our periodic retreats are our way of practicing what we preach in terms of maintaining healthy relationships as business partners and colleagues. We recognize the importance of being together, of listening deeply to one another, and of sharing conversations with each other that reinforce the importance of our mutual relationships.

In our most recent blogs, we’ve emphasized how vital it is for family members to make the time to have conversations that expressly say what we feel about each other. Through our GIFT partnership, we have created a “family” of sorts–one that each of us values, depends upon, and works to sustain. We know we can depend on one another as friends and as business partners. That knowledge and trust is the fruit of intentional effort and committed actions.

This has served us in good times, challenging times, and in sad moments as well. Over the years, most of us have experienced a family bereavement. While we understood that we couldn’t take away another’s grief, we did offer shoulders to lean on, ears that listened without minimizing or silencing her anguished words. We did not offer saccharine reassurances or rush to plaster a happy face over sadness. Our response was to walk hand-in-hand and serve as witnesses to a friend’s pain. We expressed confidence that she could cope with the trauma.

Now our thoughts turn to happier moments. For three days in the Arizona sunshine, we will have fun together. Those good times will reinforce our connection and renew our sense that our relationship is healthy, safe, and trustworthy.

What actions will you take this week to build connection with your family? What conversations will you hold because it is too important to put off until…whenever?

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 @ 06:04 PM
Author: admin

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems, expectations influence perceptionsOur last few blogs have concentrated on ways to establish and nurture deep connection within our families. Now let’s take the time to review our efforts and identify the changes that have resulted. (Notice I did not say “if” any change occurred; I presupposed that change happened which means I will be zealous in my effort to spot it.) Our presuppositions strongly influence what we allow our brains to see.

It takes determination and persistence to upend the status quo. When change does not come rapidly, it is easy for discouragement to overtake our intention. Too often surrender quickly follows. Our goal to build healthy, enduring, and dynamic bonds within our families is far too important to allow failure. How can we prevent that?

Since we know the slow pace of change often contributes to the abandonment of the effort to improve, let’s address that. One important strategy is to ensure that every shift in behavior is noticed—even the tiniest advancement. Any change is worthy of notice. The first element of our working strategy is to amplify our noticing.

This goes for adults as well as for children. (Many marriages, friendships, and jobs fail when we feel underappreciated, unnoticed and taken for granted.)

When we set the intention to be on the lookout for evidence of change, this “noticing” lens influences what we see, just like when we adjust a camera it frames the picture with an intended point of view. If we focus on the mountains, the flower-filled meadow in the foreground becomes blurred.

While it is important to keep our eyes on our big goal, remember to notice the incremental changes accomplished on the way. This helps us avoid discouragement, spurs appreciation for effort, and recognizes that change is a process that includes progress as well as occasional backsliding.

As always, we want to bring an attitude of neutral curiosity to the scrutiny of our progress. Once we notice, we want to find out why and how we succeeded. Let’s find the aspects that encouraged progress towards our ultimate goal as well as those factors that distracted us or challenged us or actually were counterproductive. All the data is valuable.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we want to continue to do the things that advanced our goal and we want to eliminate any obstacles that got into our way.

Next, let’s commit to another priority: acknowledge progress. This crediting process must include acknowledging ourselves as well as each family member. Sure, people may often brush off the compliments which we expressed.

The important thing is, they have been heard. Once heard they cannot be unheard. This might be judged a silly observation. But consider how often you replay dialogue between friends, family, and coworkers. Whether it’s an argument, and intimate moment, or a laugh human beings love to replay our audio tapes. Let’s commit to saying something that will warm their spirits when they replay it.

Updating our observations is important for another reason. It keeps us within the realm of reality. It also reminds us we don’t want to operate from an all or nothing mindset which tricks us into believing unless everything changes, we’ve failed. Any change regardless of size has value. As long as we have breath, we have the opportunity to keep plugging away.

In addition to noticing with our eye, we must also see with our inner awareness. It will need updating as well. We must regularly update our inner templates of how we think of our children within our memory, our hearts and, our minds.

Otherwise, our familiar “box” that defines how our child or spouse behaves will blind us to the new person whom they have become.  When we continue to live as if nothing has changed, the newly-born change will wither and die.  Instead of thinking  Johnny never or Johnny always… pause to remember in recent weeks when he broke the pattern—once, maybe twice, or more. What we expect to see influences what we allow ourselves to see. We must not allow habituated thinking patterns to override emerging change. It is essential that we live in the realm of reality not in the realm of assumption, especially when those assumptions keep us boxed into old behaviors and identities. We must not imprison people in “boxes” from which we never release them.

Since noticing and updating serve such pivotal roles, how can we improve these skills?

When thinking about a family member, pause to ask ourselves: Is this thought based on who they were or who they are? Then consider how they also might benefit from updating their template of Who and How you are. Discuss this idea as a family and begin making it part of a regular practice of acknowledging one another.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers, Building Connections

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 02:03 PM
Author: admin

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Love connects families across time and distanceBy the very fact that you chose to take the time to open this blog, you have demonstrated a commitment to being the best parent you can. Posts like this one help us identify leverage points from which we can better guide and connect with our children. Today as I write this blog, tragically, another school shooting has occurred. This is another reminder of the fragility of life. In recent weeks we’ve concentrated nurturing our relationships within our family context. Strong, connected relationships form the foundational bedrock of healthy families. They do not happen by accident. They grow from a consistent commitment of words and aligned actions.

As Intentional Parents we have committed to a goal: to parent in a way that reflects our deeply held values and which helps children grow into happy, healthy adults with strong “roots” and sturdy “wings.”

So, let’s consider a few questions.

(First, identify one specific attempt you actually made to reinforce your relationship connection members of your family. Then repeat this series of questions regarding at least one attempt you made to connect with each of the remaining members of your family.) Let’s explore what you can “data mine” about your efforts.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Keep reaching until you connectHow well was it received? What did it accomplish?  How did their response affect your emotions?

How have you reminded yourself each day to ensure you fulfilled your intention to make a daily connection?

Did you think to consider taking advantage of each family member’s “love language?” (If you need a refresher, reread this blog.)

What did you notice within yourself as the interactions occur?

 What happened when those efforts “landed”?

If your effort was rebuffed, how did you respond? (Think of both your external reactions and your internal emotions and thoughts.)

What can you do to help identify additional ways of connecting? How can you make them more effective?

How did timing, location, and the presence–or absence–of others influence whether or not connection successfully occurred?

Now run an instant replay in your mind WITHOUT any soundtrack.

What role did body language play—yours and theirs? How did they play off one another?

Now run ONLY the soundtrack. How did word choice influence the result? How does your wording influence the communication, for example, when you speak saying “you” versus “I”?

What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about individual members of your family?  Decide what actions you want to repeat and which ones need further revision or a totally new strategy. When unable to connect “in person” what other ways might you try? Notes? Text messages? Get creative. Instagram? Letters? (the snail mail kind!) The bottom line:

Sustain the intention and

Develop the effective strategies

Implement systems that remind you to follow through.

Approach this effort one day at a time. What will you do today?