Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend believes there is great power in recognizing and admiring your partner’s strengths.
One of the biggest impediments to creating healthier and more productive relationships is what I call the safety factor. The safety factor is the subconscious sense of safety and security that each of us feels with our partners and those we relate with. I have found that the healthiest and most productive relationships I work with have a very hearty sense of safety between the players. This safety is what creates the solid foundation upon which all other interactions and growth will be built. Safety is required for us to take risks with one another, to create closeness and intimacy, to be vulnerable, to try new things, to be adventurous, to learn and to be willing to change our behaviors that need changing. When we recognize the good things that our partner is doing, we reaffirm to our partner that we do “have eyes to see” and we increase their sense of safety in the relationship. When we know our partner recognizes our efforts, it makes us feel more safety and our willingness to try more increases.
Motivation is Magnified
We all know that you get more “flies with honey than some of the other ‘negative’ things that might attract the pests,” so why aren’t we always spreading more honey to our honey than negativity? In my experience, the fastest and healthiest way to motivate another human being is to see what they are doing well and work from there. Positivity, over time, trumps all other motivational theories. I’m not talking occasional positivity, where one randomly sends out a barrage of blind compliments, hoping that some will stick and will somehow get someone to change. Instead, I’ve found that sincere, specific and consistent compliments about what your partner is doing well creates a ground swelling of motivation to do more good. As someone once said, “When we feel good…we tend to do good!” Just as the positive words of a great coach could lessen the pain of a close loss or a solid “B” on the most difficult test you’ve ever taken in your life might instill some hope that someday you might actually make it through algebra, so too can a positive compliment from someone we love make an enormous difference. When we hear sincerely, positive things said about us, our commitment is reinforced, our desire to continue the good feelings and positivity is renewed and so our motivation continues. Instead of just running from pain, we are now motivated to run toward the pleasure of accomplishing, doing and being more in the eyes of our partner.
Focuses us Forward
When we hear what we are doing well from someone we truly admire, or someone we’ve committed our lives to in marriage, it plays an enormous trick on our head. A compliment really is an investment into our partner’s future as well as our own. When I point out the strengths that my partner is exhibiting today, it subconsciously tells my partner that that is the same strength that I would like to see again in our relationships tomorrow. Have you ever noticed, that when people are telling you what you do well, you have an inherent desire to keep doing those things even more into the future. Compliments drive us forward where criticism takes us backward, back to our old fears, our insecurities, our old mistakes and moments of guilt. The best way to drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles would be by having a plan for how we want to get there and then consistently focusing on the signs that will tell us when we’re on the right track, instead of only looking for signs along the road where we’ve made a wrong turn. Proactively focusing our eyes forward, looking for the signs that we’re on the right road is a much better idea than looking through your rear view mirror pointing out all of the wrong turns you made or the things you could have done better. When the positive things I’m doing right are consistently acknowledged, I automatically want to start to incorporate them more into my future so I can keep feeling good about myself and my partner.
Hope is Restored
One of the biggest benefits of recognizing and appreciating the positives of your partner is not so much what happens to them but what happens to you because you’re doing it. When you begin to see the good in your partner it changes you. You begin to feel more positive yourself; you begin to see that there is so much more that can be created by being together. You begin to feel the stirrings of attraction you once felt in the earlier stages of the relationship. You also begin to feel the integrity that comes when you realize that you are being a positive force for change with someone that you love and care deeply about. In the end you have hope. You have hope that you can keep working together, hope that you’ll be able to finish the journey and hope that you can live up to “all” your partner is becoming.
Matt Townsend is a national speaker and relationship expert who uses his unique gift of understanding relationships to help individuals, couples and families learn the skills they need to better relate. Through entertainment and humor he teaches life-changing principles and skills empowering couples to change by learning to communicate more effectively, to stop patterns of negative reactions, and to get to the heart of important issues.
For more couple advice from Matt, attend:
Date Night with Matt Townsend
“The Art of Positive Relating”
Saturday, May 22
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan
To register call: 801-747-2121