COMMUNICATION: 5 STEPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE

5 STEPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATION

STEP 1
TAKE OUT TIME FOR EACH OTHER:
Time must be invested in any relationship that will work.
Time, although a highly expendable resource, is an invaluable one.

We usually exchange our time for what we place value on.

If you are on a 9-5 you exchange those work hours for a salary at the end of the day or month. So, invariably you are paid for your time, and your worth to your organization is determined by how much your time added value to them and the attainment of their objectives.
So in a sense we can say “Time is life”. If this is true then it is true that I cannot claim to commit my life to someone if I cannot commit my time to her, and the truth is that I will never get to know who I do not spend time with. 

If I really want to have a productive relationship with my beloved I will need to have unhindered communication with her, and if I am going to have that sort of unfettered communication I must first know her, I must know her thoughts and be accustomed to the vibes she emits.
There is no way I can know this if I do not spend time with her.
The first step to better communication and a relationship that works is- make out time for each other.

STEP 2
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNICATING YOUR THOUGHTS & FEELINGS:

Clearly express your thoughts yourself.

This is a critical point and is not one that can just be wished away. 
Do not say things like “she should have known what I meant” or “we’ve been together long enough for him to know what was on my mind.”
As romantic and appealing as some of that sounds we need to understand that the responsibility for communicating our thoughts, feelings, and emotions is no other’s.

Take responsibility for saying and expressing exactly what you mean.

I cannot underscore this point enough because if I tried to tell you how many times I have seen people trying to shift the responsibility for conveying their message to those that are meant to be recipients of the message I probably would lose count.

STEP 3
REALIZE THE DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTIONS:

Every human being is different. We all have different mindsets, personalities, and orientations, and in order to have meaningful conversations and communication with others we must put this into consideration.
 Do not condemn the other person for being different; rather put yourself in a position where you can understand and utilize this difference. Most times others see things about us and in us that we ordinarily are unable to see ourselves. So don’t be the sort of person whose attitude always seems to say “It’s either my way or the highway”.

Realize that views are meant to be complimentary as no one person sees everything he/she needs to know at every point in time.

STEP 4
BE AN ATTENTIVE LISTENER: 

There are three different ways to listen while someone is talking to you. 

These ways are attentive listening, passive listening, and selective listening.

* ATTENTIVE LISTENING :- In this sort of listening full and maximum attention is given to the speaker. When you listen attentively you put your whole being into receiving the message the speaker is trying to pass across to you.
This is the most effective type of listening but it is also the one that demands the highest amount of effort.  It takes practice, patience, and respect for the other party to get yourself to the position where you listen attentively to them every time.
A person that listens attentively will always hear.

* PASSIVE LISTENING:- This sort of listening implies listening to what is spoken yet not necessarily tuning in to it. Let me say it this way- looking is to seeing what listening is to hearing. 
So it is not everything you look at that you see, in the same way it isn’t everything you listen to that you hear. Passive listening is listening without hearing; it is a situation where a person listens without paying attention and so ends up missing the message.
An example of passive listening could be when a man’s wife is talking to him during a football game or some other thing that has his full attention; he could be listening to her without hearing anything she would be saying because his full attention would be on his game.

* SELECTIVE LISTENING:- This type of listening is what happens when a person gets to hear only what he/she wants to hear. 
There are those circumstances and situations where some people either listen only to get points to fortify their positions or listen to get ammunition they can use to attack others; now you do not want to be in that position if you genuinely intend to have good communication and a fruitful and productive relationship.

STEP 5
CONFIRM WHAT YOU HEAR:

The final step to better communication is to confirm what you hear.

As much as it is the other party’s responsibility to pass across their thoughts and feelings it is also important that you confirm what you think you have heard.
This is because there are many cases where there is a disconnect between the sender and the receiver of the message and this disconnect is seen in the message being transmitted.

I will explain this by breaking down a typical communication process.

Let us take a look at the 6 steps in a typical communication process-
(a) First of all is what the sender of the message intends to say
(b) Second is what he/she eventually says
(c) Third is what the recipient hears
(d) Fourth is what he/she makes out of what they heard
(e) Fifth is what the recipient decides to say in response
(f) Sixth is what the recipient eventually says

Now when we take a look at the process above it becomes clear why there can be so many potential land mines in what should ordinarily be a simple and straightforward dialogue; but most times it is anything but straightforward and it is for this reason we must confirm everything we hear.

So, before you respond you need to ask- “Excuse me, is this by any chance what you intended to pass across?” or “Is so and so what you meant when you said so and so?”

This makes life much easier for everyone. 

I trust you learnt something through this whole series.
Click on our other articles, read them, comment and ask questions, and share this site with everyone you know.

Cheers and God bless you

COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE: 3 OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

We began this series talking about Communication.

In an earlier episode we defined the term and spoke about the various carriers of communication.
Having identified them, and having resolved that Communication is the lifeblood of a successful relationship we will in this Instalment speak about the hindrances to effective communication.

There are 3 Obstacles to Effective Communication

LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS:- Marriage is built on trust.
Trust is easily one of the most important factors in successful and effective relationships; once there is a breakdown of trust there will be no openness and this will make the communication process strained and laborious.

Now there can be no trust if there is no truthfulness. Trust is the first casualty in duplicity and a lack of honesty.
So each time trust is violated a new impediment to an otherwise fruitful relationship would have been introduced. 

Most people will evaluate others and decide how much to open themselves to them using a mental frame of reference and appraisal that is mostly contingent on either their past experiences with the individual in question or with people the individual reminds them of. 
So Miss A is inclined to relate with Mr. B either on the basis of the outcome of their past interactions or of her interactions with Mr. C who happens to look like Mr. B or come from the same place as he does or sound like him, and so on.
Now if those interactions are anything but memorable a lack of trust would immediately become an inhibition to further communication.

This happens even in already established relationships.

If a spouse is economical with the truth while dealing with the other and it turns out that the other eventually discovers it would be an issue because trust would have been violated, and where trust is violated the free flow of communication will be hindered.

Most of us have either seen or been in a circumstance where trust was violated.
It could be someone who betrayed your trust or possibly someone whose trust you betrayed; it could be someone you are dating who is yet to recover from the hurts of the past relationships and so transfers the aggression to you, or it could be you who has chosen not to move ahead from the trauma of past infidelities.
Whichever way it is the point still remains that a violation of trust hinders free flowing communication.

MISMANAGING CONFLICT:-

Conflicts are inevitable in marriage.

I wish I could say this a million times over until it gets stuck in your head and subconscious.

There is no way two people of different genders with different backgrounds, and in most cases conflicting or divergent interests, will not have friction and disagreements.

The good thing about it is that if the conflict is channelled properly it will end up leading to better relationships. Bad conflicts mess everything up because they end up turning attention to what should not be given attention.

When conflicts are mismanaged they make us focus on the person rather than the problem. When we do not manage conflicts properly we try to fix the person and not the problem.
This sort of thing will inevitably lead to the next obstacle to effective communication.

DEFENSIVENESS:- The first law of nature is Self-Preservation.
Many people give into the law of self-preservation and defend/protect themselves, and they would naturally do so if they felt they were being attacked.

 Most people are prone to not accepting wrongdoing when they are attacked.

So it’s a two way street here; if you want honest and productive communication with your spouse or your intended you need to learn how not to come across as though you are on the attack.

Even if someone has done something wrong you want to put yourself in a position where you can address the issue without making it look like you are on some sort of mission to take the other person out.

And on the other hand if you are the one that seems to have done something untoward you need to swallow your pride, admit your faults, and ask for forgiveness. 
It really will not take anything out of you but will instead boost your relationship and enhance your communication with your loved one.

Okay, so let’s take a look at how we can solve these hindrances. If you read between the lines I am confident you must have gotten some points that will help in sorting the issues out, however,we can glean a little more from what we read and develop a course of action to help take out those hindrances.

HANDLING A LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS
How can we handle a lack of truthfulness in our relationships? We will speak from two dimensions here.

First of all, let’s say you are the one that has violated trust, so how do you handle it?
For starters you need to be truthful about your commitment to the relationship. If you really love the other person then you want to keep them at all costs, and if you do not then there is no need to keep putting the person in a position where you will cause him or her pain.
Kindly note that what I have just said above does not cover you if you are already married. If you are already married to that man or woman then you must keep your commitment, you cannot just get up one day and say you aren’t committed to them anymore. It should never work like that.

And if you are not yet married but decide you are committed to this person and will want to take it to a logical conclusion after you have already violated trust or you are already married and acquiesce to the fact that you must make it work the only way you will be able to do that is swallow your pride and own up to what you did in the past.

Depending on the character and mental strength of your spouse or intended you may have to be eclectic in picking the details of your past discrepancies.
You don’t want to go into unnecessary details if the other person cannot handle it.
You don’t want to tell her the most minute details of your
indiscretions with several other women if she does not have a personality that can handle it.
You don’t want to tell him how your boss held you or what position you took while he had his way with you.

You must take responsibility for what happened and go over how it happened to the extent that you and your spouse can work together to plug the holes in a bid to ensure the occurrence is not repeated.
And after you have done that you will need to make a commitment to ensuring it doesn’t happen again and then take the further step of being accountable to your spouse.

Now if the reverse is the case and the other party has violated your trust you will need to FIRST forgive them. After you have done so you must decide whether both of you are committed to the relationship. If you are and if the other party is repentant for what they did you will need to work on re-establishing that trust.
One way you will not be able to re-establish it is to keep reminding him/her what they did to you at every turn. You will only push them further away.
The way to do it is to make them feel they can trust you enough to tell what their issues are at anytime.
After forgiving you must reassure the other party and make them see you are not going be victimizing anyone.

This is imperative to get everything back on track.

HANDLING A MISMANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTS
If encounters have gone South between both of you and you see that you have allowed your disagreements become crises you can remedy the situation by dialogue.
This dialogue is to find out what stimuli provoke you both and end up making you lose the lessons you should get from the friction.
You want to be sure that it’s not just destructive friction and a toxic environment you generate when you have disagreements, and if that is the case then maybe you are just not compatible (We will be treating “Compatibility” in a later article) and you may need to part ways.
If it just is not working and try as you might you are unable to pass your message across or get the other party’s message objectively then you might just need to call it quits.
If you are already married then I can only tell you that as long as that conflict does not degenerate to any form of abuse you must work on it, and even when it does lead to abuse a separation should only be considered when it becomes physical.

HANDLING DEFENSIVENESS
The first thing to do here is take responsibility. If you are involved in deflecting blame or abdicating responsibility you will only end up causing a festering of problems.
No one will get an award for winning an argument. You might even have noticed that if you are inclined to winning arguments even when you are wrong you have won several of them and afterwards looked at yourself and asked yourself what you have gained.
You might intimidate your spouse/intended through your verbosity or eloquence, or if you are the loquacious type you run them off course by talking nineteen to the dozen, but afterwards you scratch your head and wonder why you have a sense of defeat on the inside even though you were victorious in the argument.

You need to understand the maxim “live and let live”.
You need to always remember that in a marriage relationship it is more important to be in agreement than it is to be right.

We will continue later with the last Instalment of this “Communucation” series.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments section.
Then go read the other articles on this blog and share the site with your friends and loved ones.

Cheers and God bless

UNDERSTANDING THE 7 LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIP

7 LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIP

Have you ever heard where two people who did not know each other got hooked to get married by a third party/mutual friend?
I know I have. In my line of work I have seen quite a number of these sort of relationships.
Some of them are long-distance relationships and they are so distant they never met before they got hooked.
Some others get intimate on social media without even meeting each other. In some cases these kind of relationships work, but from my experience I have seen that this is the exception and not the rule. 
To build anything on the exception is usually a recipe for disaster.
So the rule of thumb is you pass through a trajectory of different cadres or levels of friendship that will then culminate in marriage.
There are 7 levels of friendship on the curve that leads to marriage.
In this article we look take a detailed look at each of them.

LEVEL 1:- STRANGER
A person at this level is not obviously not a friend, but considering that everything going forward is built on it it is a good place to start.
Considering that everyone you have ever met in your life started off as a stranger we might as well add this as the first.
We meet people at different places; on our first day at school or in the class where we attended a professional course, on the airplane or in a taxi cab, in a shopping mall or at the hair salon, we meet people everyday and most of them are total strangers to us. 
Usually some of these strangers fit into an appraisal system we have coded in our minds that we instinctively deploy when we see people we do not know. 
We tend to unconsciously pass everyone we encounter through this mental appraisal mould and we run them through the parameters of our specifications.
If for instance you are a man (full blooded man that is) or a woman and you saw a lady or guy you did not know you would appraise her/him on the basis of your preferences with regard to her/his  height, build, face, shape, the way she/he sounds, and any other standard you hold. In a matter of seconds she/he  would have been weighed on your mental scale and on the basis of your appraisal (many times on a scale of 1-10) you will decide whether the individual is worth a second look. 
There might be times when the situation does not give you the time nor latitude to properly appraise the person at first glance but  generally everyone starts at this point.
Depending on what the chemistry is like and the terms of engagement you might exchange numbers, addresses, and other personal details

LEVEL 2:- ACQUAINTANCE
This level is the second and although the person is not quite yet your buddy and still has a way to go before he/she can become your chum you can at least identify him/her as an acquaintance. An acquaintance is a person one knows slightly, such a person is a contact but is not qualified to be referred to as a friend. 
They might be people whose personal details you may or may not have, but they are definitely people you will recognize and be familiar with. It could be that lady you always “run into” at the hair salon (we probably need to start asking you what in the world a full grown man like you keeps looking for at a hair salon, she probably wonders too, or doesn’t) or at the shopping mall. It could be that guy you see every now and then when you are hanging with your girls at your favorite place. The thing that is usually a common denominator in all such cases is that you know or at least can recognize them.

LEVEL 3: SPARSE FRIENDSHIP
I call this level a sparse friendship because it is the sort of friendship where you meet up with someone today and after a really long while he/she is out of the picture. This person is never really in the zone and is more like a kind of “now you see me now you don’t” kinda person, if you know what I mean.
You bump into this person when you happen to be in his/her city or area, and this bumping into each other is mostly accidental.
Now sometimes it might not be accidental as one party is really trying to see if something can come out of it but the other party is not as committed to or interested in what the first wants.
So if you are at this level of friendship with someone you both might have gone beyond the acquaintance level but there still is work to do if either party is interested in pushing it.

LEVEL 4: CASUAL FRIENDSHIP
So at this level the ice is thinning but there is no heat just yet. You are at the point where you say- “Who knows? Let’s see how things go”. And so you and your target (some of you probably feel like you are hunters now) are casual friends; you can call ourselves pals at this point and you probably know some stuff about each other that is more than just objective. You know some of the other person’s likes and dislikes, you know their hobbies, favorite sports team, political affiliations and so on; you know at least enough to have a decent conversation.
At this point I will bring in a brief interlude here so I can talk about something that is really important in friendship.
It’s called Disclosure. In every relationship there must be disclosure but this usually happens at different phases that are mostly in consonance with varying levels of friendship.
Let me explain. There are- 3 STAGES OF DISCLOSURE
I call them- the vision stage, the retrospect stage, and the moment stage.
Whoever you are disclosing to would ordinarily have to qualify for each succeeding stage of disclosure. Each stage of disclosure corresponds with some levels of friendship.
The vision stage is usually a disclosure of what a person wants to do in the future. The retrospect stage is the disclosure of certain things that have happened in the past. Then the moment stage speaks entirely about what is presently happening in a person’s life.
**There are requirements for each stage of disclosure (see the end of the page)

LEVEL FIVE: CLOSE FRIENDSHIP
This is where you guys are really chummy with each other. You are close friends and have hit deeper levels of disclosure. You know lots of subjective stuff about each other and might have gotten to the point where you are ready to take the plunge; however you must at this point also ensure no one friend zones you without being ready to make the big commitment. If you are a girl and the guy isn’t ready to pop the question or y’all just have not gotten to that stage where you are both ready to commit then he shouldn’t be taking you around everywhere like a colonial master.
However the truth is if you have a group of people from the opposite sex who fit the profile of close friends then you have a beautiful pool to pick from when it’s time to get settled. It really is a good place to be.

LEVEL SIX: INTIMACY
The etymology of the word “intimacy” points us to the Greek word “intimos” which literally means innermost. At this point the friendship is where people are “naked and not ashamed”.
 Usually when we hear the word “intimacy” most people think of sexual interactions but there are different types of intimacy that would eventually lead to sexual intimacy that will be worthwhile.
There is spiritual intimacy and emotional intimacy, before physical intimacy. At the level of intimacy both individuals bare all to each other and it’s a union of hearts as both beat as one. There is a level of understanding that comes at this level and this understanding is so deep that each party is able to predict the other’s next move.
There is such an amity, a kindred spirit, and affinity between both people at this point that the level of detailed knowledge each has of the other will lead very logically to only one conclusion.

LEVEL 7: MARRIAGE
Marriage can occur before any form of intimacy is built, and more intimacy will definitely be built as the proper building blocks are laid so it isn’t necessarily as though intimacy preceding marriage automatically translates to no intimacy after marriage. If the marriage is properly established intimacy will keep increasing, and it should too because it is expected that the couple will get closer to each other as their love matures.
 Although we have not said that any marriage that does not go through the 7 level sequence will not succeed it goes without saying that those who follow it are more inclined to have a good marriage than those that do not.

I trust this article was helpful. I am looking forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions. Help spread this blog to all your links and friends.
Cheers and God bless.

**When you attend any of our “Life on Target” relationship life class conferences or buy our “Life on Target” relationship life class materials we will help you run these tests and tell you in a much more detailed form exactly what these stages entail and which level of friendship they correspond with.

5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP

LEADING FROM THE MIDDLE: 5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP 

There are 5 levels of leadership. The level you are on determines the degree of effectiveness of your leadership. 
POSITION: The first and lowest level of leadership is the level of Position.

In reality this is not actually leadership, it is more an opportunity to get leadership. 

If we understand the nature of leadership we will understand why Position is not really leadership. Why it isn’t leadership is that positions are given but leadership is not given, it is earned.
Positions come through a variety of ways, but leadership comes through just one way.
Positions can be given in organizations for instance; if a person has developed his capacity to the extent where he can function consistently at a certain level in his industry he will naturally fit into certain types of posts or positions. 

But leadership cannot be given in and by any organization.

People can be given positions by birth.
For instance the monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth, has her first son Charles, as the Prince of Wales.
He did nothing to attain that.
He will become monarch after her death. 
He did nothing to attain that.
That is the nature of position; but that is not the nature of leadership and as we will see position does not mean leadership.

To illustrate the above point might I ask you a question?
 “Have you had a teacher at school when you were little, or a boss at your workplace who you didn’t like very much but whose instructions you nevertheless carried out because he or she was ahead of you?”
Maybe you have, and if you did obey them it would possibly be because you felt like you had no choice.
Now envision a scenario where you meet that same person again, let’s call her Mrs. Brown; so you meet Mrs. Brown but this time outside of the usual environment, probably after you left your previous workplace where you had her as the obnoxious boss; and let’s say you just managed to bump into her someplace else, in a mall or other public place. 

Now what would you do if she gave you the same sort of instructions and in the same tone as she used to give while you worked under her? 
If you were a polite person you would probably just smile and walk away, and if you aren’t you would give her a piece of your mind; most likely a huge chunk that she wouldn’t forget in a hurry.
The reason for this is quite simple; what she had over you was a position and not leadership. She lost her position and so lost the ability to give you any instructions. 

This is why people who remain on the level of Position find it difficult to work with volunteers; volunteers know they are not duty bound to follow just anyone and so they will only follow those that have influence (more on that soon) over them.
Now if all you have over a person is a position then you don’t have leadership. 

PERMISSION: This is where genuine leadership begins and is the point at which influence is exercised.
If you remember our discussion on “Understanding Leadership” you will recall that we defined leadership very simply as “influence”.
 The level of Permission is that point where people begin to willingly follow you and submit to you of their volition. It is that point where you have started exerting influence over them. 
The level of Permission is based on relationship. At this level people will follow you because they like you and because you have influence over them. 

Most of us are usually influenced by people we either aspire to be like or by people who show care and concern for our welfare. We tend to model ourselves after people that inspire us and trust that those who show concern for us have our interests at heart and so we normally won’t have any reservations following them or listening to their counsel.

A leader on this level works to connect with his people, and he does this by increasing his emotional intelligence; as he builds this he gets to create more positive energy in the environment and people tend to gravitate towards him. Trust usually grows at this point and as it does it leads to respect.
So when a person begins to influence other people he has entered this level of leadership.

This is basically what permission is all about, and this is really where real leadership begins.

PERFORMANCE (PRODUCTION): 
The next level of leadership is production. People will be comfortable with you when they know you have concern for their welfare, and they might attempt to emulate you if you inspire them, but they will only respect you if you are productive. 
Most people do not argue with results; they respect results.
So what this level of leadership speaks of is RESULTS.
People will follow you at this level because of your track record.
How many times have we seen people that call themselves leaders but are all talk and no action? I am sure it is something you have seen a lot of, “leaders” who do not walk their talk. It is quite hard to respect a person who doesn’t produce results in any field he aims to command loyalty in; you realize that when a leader produces results he builds credibility and this is instructive because there are two components of credibility/trust- they are character and competence; if a person has character you can bank on his words, but then we also realize there are times when only character will not suffice; there are times when we must go beyond words. 
If for instance you are trustworthy in character I will have no qualms in handing over to you something precious to me in order for you to keep it safely for me, but if you have character but are not a competent driver it is not likely that I would give you my 2017 Sport Utility Vehicle to take out for a spin.
This applies in practically every endeavor in which we engage and so in politics for instance we can also  understand this if we see that as much as we might like some candidates in a particular election because of their mannerisms and charm,or even because of more serious things like their sense of probity and moral rectitude, when we want to elect leaders that will get the job done we look towards track records. We look for their competence and commit our trust to them on that basis. 

At this level of leadership in organizations work gets done and as a result motivation increases, profits improve, stagnation gets kicked out of the window and everyone gets more committed to the task at hand as they see the commitment and performance of the leader.
Everyone works seamlessly as a team and overall effectiveness goes up at this point.

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT:-
This is leadership by reproduction. At this level the leader realizes that his successes will be measured not by how much he has personally accomplished but by how much the people that work with him have accomplished, and so he works at this point to raise manpower.

Someone once said “It is called ‘manpower’ because where there are no men there is no power”. 

A real leader knows that in order to expand his followership base, whether in boosting his clientele or subscribers or audience, he must first expand his leadership base. So his goal at this point is to identify and develop as many leaders as he possibly can by investing in them  and helping them through their growth phases.

A good leader knows it is more honorable to be a coach than it is to be a player. 

It is also much more productive. The reason is easy to grasp you see- when there are more leaders more of the overall objectives of the organization will be accomplished. Also where there are more leaders the top dog will be able to grow into other things as he will no longer be restricted with performing the tasks he has now developed people to handle. 
As you invest in people you will command a much higher level of loyalty as people will begin to follow you for what you have done for them. 

PERSONHOOD (PINNACLE): At this level of leadership the leader has become an institution and people will follow him for his reputation. People will follow you at this level because of the legacy you would have set.
This level requires you to stick with your principles at all costs; it will require you to give up a lot and sacrifice very much because this level of leadership focuses on posterity.
So what this means is that at this level a leader thinks generationally. He thinks in terms of what structures and systems to develop for succeeding sets of leaders as well as ways to ensure the organization remains relevant even in his absence and for many more years ahead. 
By the nature of this level of leadership there are many instances where the philosophy of leaders at this point become schools of thought. 
Think of Chairman Mao Zedong of Communist China and his Maoist movement. Maoism is today a political theory derived from the teachings of Mao Zedong and a substantial proportion of the Chinese ruling class are adherents of this philosophy.
There are so many other examples to draw from but I assume the point has been made thus far.

So, what level would you say you operate in?