Earl Nightingale once said the most important word to success was ‘Attitude’. I agree although I think it ranks right up there with gratitude, of which we will discuss tomorrow. Much like in the world of business success, in the world of relationships attitude can be everything. This is true in any kind of relationship, but since we are looking at romantic relationships let us focus on that example although the tactics here are basically the same. While having a discussion about this particular blog with a very close friend of mine I was explaining to her that what I post here I have learned by both studying the experts in a particular field as well as real world experience. In my life, as may be true in yours, experience can be another word for making mistakes. Many people, myself included, often fear making mistakes. This is often true in relationships. People are often so afraid of doing the wrong thing it prevents them from taking any action at all. In an earlier post we discussed that you are either growing or dying. There is no standing still in life or in relationships. Here is the beautiful thing, even if you make a mistake or hurt your partners feelings it can be a great source of growth. The secret is the actions you take leading to and following the upset. I used to fear making mistakes in my relationship. Nobody likes their feelings hurt or to hurt anyone else’s feelings. When there was a miscommunication in my relationships in the past I would often focus on what was lost. Have I lost trust in this person? Have they lost trust in me? Is there now a lack of closeness or intimacy? To thinking even worse things such as Is the relationship ever going to be the same? Will the relationship end because of this? It is easy to think this way especially when you are dealing with such intense emotion. this very reason highlights the need to think about how you handle relationship challenges before they occur. My attitude now is “Ok, things are not going well. What am I going to learn about my partner or our relationship through solving this?” Now there are two very important differences to notice here. One, I have changed the focus to what has been compromised in the present to what can be gained in the future. Now if the thing you come up with that you can learn is that your partner is a jerk, you may need to try to do a little refocusing. It is true that they may have done something that upset you, but in a healthy relationship partners rarely do anything to hurt each other on purpose. Instead focus on why may have done what they done. If you can still only come up with “They did it because they are a jerk” we may need to take a deep breath and think of another important factor. Always consider this very important point. In a relationship there is only one person you should try to change, that is the person in the mirror. We have no control over others and in a healthy relationship we should not even desire such things. Are there things about your partner you may not enjoy? I bet the answer to that question may be the same as it would be for them. Let us say you are upset because your partner never seems to listen to you and what you say. Instead of trying to come up with ways ‘to make your partner listen to you’ ask yourself “Is there a way I can more effectively communicate so that my partner is more likely to hear what I am trying to convey? Ask your partner, remembering to always make the effort about yourself. Something like this “Sometimes I feel what I am saying doesn’t always come across the right way to you. Is there a more effective way I could communicate with you?” will surely have a more productive result than “What can I do to finally get you to listen to me?” Remember working on changing your approach will quite often be the quickest fix to addressing an issue that may not thrill you about your partner. This will not only lead to a happier relationship, but to a happier you. The second thing I did was change my focus from the problem to the solution. In business there is an axiom that you should spend 20% of your time focusing on the problem and 80% of the time focusing on the solution. This is the same in relationships. You first need to focus on the problem to make sure you both have an understanding of each others point of view and what the problem truly is. I cannot tell you how many relationships have had arguments because both parties didn’t have a clue as to what the other was upset about. Not your relationship I’m sure, but it is good to make sure you understand what is bothering each other. Once you have that knowledge it is important to then immediately shift to the solution. Instead of dwelling on how mad it made you that your partner made you late for something, focus on what you can do to prevent such things in the future. Again remember only focus on what you can do. If you are expecting your partner to change it will only lead to further resentment. In the case of your partner making you late. Perhaps you could work on better conveying your desire to be on time. Or the fact that the event was scheduled and that is was important that you be there at a specific time. Maybe even ask them to be ready a little earlier than you need them so you can allow for a little extra time. So the attitude you bring to any situation with your partner can be the difference between growth and pain. Remember to focus 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution. Also remember the only person you should try to change in a relationship is yourself. Tomorrow we discuss another magical word in the world of relationships.