Monday, January 27, 2014

Rating Our Relationships?

Performance reviews are a useful tool to help us evaluate not only how well we are doing in the aggregate sense at work, but also and perhaps even more importantly, how well we are doing on critical components that add up to how well we are doing overall. In our most important relationships, we tend to get black and white when thinking about how well things are going. And it is too easy to focus on a pesky frustration, rather than systematically looking at the many components that contribute to our overall experience. I have heard many a person complain about how bad things are in a critical relationship, but lack the language or the tools to break down what is not working and what can be done to make things better. A Wall St Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein explored the value of giving a relationship a "performance review." Using a method developed by marriage therapist Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, both people in a relationship give a numerical rating to key elements, and use the ratings as the basis for identifying problems and talking about how to make things better. * Is there a sense of trust in the relationship? * Do the two people experience a sense of connection and companionship in each others' company? * How is intimacy in the relationship? * Do both people feel the other listens to them and hears them? * When there is conflict, how is it handled? * When something good happens for one person, does the other person celebrate? * Can the two people work as a team on critical tasks? * Does the relationship feel boring or can new activities be injected into the mix? Asking these kinds of questions allows a level of honesty to be reached, and can provide useful information about what is working and what needs to be changed. If you don't know what is broken, it's pretty hard to fix it! Any tools that encourage open and honest communication can work wonders if both parties want to do the work to make things better! And at the very least, two people can determine if they are on the same page or not...and which page they want to be on!

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