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Life coaching: Top 5 keys to having successful relationships

When a relationship that we care about isn’t going well, it can significantly impact how we feel on a day-to-day basis

Zeta Yarwood

Published: Updated:

One of the biggest sources of stress we face in our lives is our relationships. Whether it’s with our spouse, family members, friends, colleagues or with ourselves. When a relationship that we care about isn’t going well, it can significantly impact how we feel on a day-to-day basis.

So what are the keys to having successful relationships?

1) Letting go of control

Trying to control or change another person’s behavior, values or opinions is a recipe for disaster in any relationship. Recognize we are all different and the people in your life are entitled to be who they want to be – not who you think they should be. Learning to accept that we cannot change other people – nor do we have the right to - is a crucial step in having good relationships.

If someone is demonstrating a behavior that is upsetting you – you have two options. Either take ownership of your own emotions and learn how to assess and manage your reaction to their behavior (a life coach can help you with this). Or, particularly if the behavior is harmful or goes against your values, you can choose to leave the relationship or limit the amount of time you spend exposed to that behavior.
If their behavior is harming either themselves or those around them, communicate your observations to them – recognizing that the choice to get help is theirs. The choice to stay or leave is yours.

2) Active listening

Feeling heard and understood is important to anyone in a relationship. Often we are so focused on what we want to say and getting our point across, we don’t listen to the other person. Demonstrating good listening skills not only facilitates good communication but helps the other person feel respected – key to any harmonious relationship.

3) Learning not to react but to respond

Quite often, when someone says something or does something, we interpret it in a way that triggers an emotional response in us. This causes us to react instead of respond.
Let’s say your spouse comes home and says “The house is looking messier than when I left this morning.”

If you interpret the comment as “not being a good enough wife or husband”, you might find yourself reacting to that interpretation instead of responding to the original comment.
A healthy response could be to look around the house and see if what your spouse is saying is true. If the house is messier, then responding would be, “So you’re saying the house is messier than when you left this morning. Looking around, yes – you’re right. It is messier than when you left this morning.”

If you believe the house is just as messy or even less messy, a healthy way to respond could be, “I hear you saying you think the house is messier (demonstrating active listening). I did spend time this morning tidying and it seems tidier to me. I appreciate it is possible it might not look that way to you.”

If you have a tendency to react through giving other people’s words a different meaning, a life coach can give you the tools to work on this.

4) Seeing things from their perspective

Always looking to see things from the other person’s perspective encourages our ability to respond instead of react. Whatever is going on, they will have their own fears, emotional pain, values and beliefs driving their behaviour and what they are saying. Once you can understand where they are coming from, you will be able to figure out how to respond appropriately.

5) Developing your emotional intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage our own emotions, and recognise how our behaviour might affect others. It’s being highly conscious of our own emotional states, personality, strengths, areas for development and how we could come across to others. Research has shown that people with high emotional intelligence experience happier and more fulfilling relationships.