Toolbox | Why Love Isn’t Enough & the 4 Skills You Need for a Healthy Relationship

In today’s episode, we cover how to keep the romance in your life fresh.

Unfortunately, many of us believe relationship myths as truth which can set us up for failure, so what are the biggest relationship myths, what else do you need besides love to make a relationship work, and what skills can you start working on today to improve your relationships?

What to Listen For

  • The Biggest Relationship Myths – 5:50
  • What are the biggest myths surrounding relationships and why do we believe them?
  • Why do some people fall in love with falling in love more than they fall in love with actual people?
  • How are dating apps making it more difficult for you to find a healthy relationship and what should you do to avoid falling into the swipe life trap?
  • What are the 2 human traits that work against us when it comes to dating apps and how do we overcome them?
  • The Tools for Strengthening Relationships – 15:45
  • What are emotional bids and how can you use them to deepen your relationships?
  • What is the DEEP framework and how can you use it to understand the differences between you and your partner?
  • What question can you and your partner ask each other to develop actionable goals to be more supportive for one another? 
  • What 4 skills can you start working on today to keep your relationship fresh?
  • What simple exercise can you implement every day or week to improve the communication in your relationships?
  • What are the 3 levels of listening and how can your knowledge of them help you strengthen relationships? 

A long lasting happy relationship requires more than just love. If you don’t have the skills to navigate all of the issues and challenges that inevitably arise from two people spending time together, love won’t simply solve all of your problems. Fortunately, the skills necessary to forge healthy relationships can be taught and learned, but you must be willing to grow.

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Resources from this Episode

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Speaker 1: Uh, thank you everyone for tuning in let's kick off today's toolbox episode. That's right. It's toolbox time today. We're bringing our head coach Michael on board, and we're going to talk about why maintaining a solid romantic relationship can be tough. And we'll give you four strategies, ways to deepen your connection with your partner. Welcome back to the show. Michael, we're so excited to kick things, things off for many of us, you know, we've been sold this idea that there are these perfect people, perfect matches for us walking around, and if you find them, everything will just fall into place. And it'll be a great relationship with minimal to no effort. And if there is any effort, then you're in the wrong relationship. And I think that myth really needs to be dispelled. And I think the big part of it for me around this whole thing is just how important Asian really is and how we view our own communication versus how we show up in our relationship with that communication.

Speaker 1: And being able to have someone in your life who can point out these things and can work together to strengthen your communication. That's the view that I have, and I, through a series of failed romantic relationships, I've learned a lot about my behavior patterns around managing stress and communicating and conflict. So I have been excited to discuss this in this toolbox format because it's something that I've realized a lot about myself in the way that I viewed romantic relationships. So we started the company over 10 plus years ago, the myths that I brought into my relationships and sometimes the success that lack of success I've had in this area, certainly colored my view on communication and having happy, healthy, romantic relationships in my life to kick things off. I definitely want to talk about some of those myths that I know that I bought into, and many of our listeners have probably bought into as well around finding that partner and finding someone in your life to share romantic relationship with.

Speaker 1: Now, if you've been a fan of this show for the last decade, plus, you know, when we started it, we were younger, very focused on dating success and being the most attractive version of ourselves and having plenty of options. And that's probably why many of you found the show back in the day and as I've grown as a person, and of course, as our clients have come to work with us, for the most part, everyone's come in with this mindset of how can I have a healthy, romantic relationship by not being someone I'm not being fake. And I think one of the biggest myths that we hear time and time again, is that there's this perfect partner for us. And that once you find that person, everything just falls into place. It's no work, there's no conflict, there's no drama, naturally all of your passions and pursuits align, and it's just happiness. And as I've come to realize in my own career and life, that that's not the case, romantic relationships are like any relationship in your life and there's going to be growth. There's going to be changed. And there's going to be a whole lot of communication that we want to talk about. So in preparation for this, we wanted to first just kick off by talking about some of these myths. And I know Michael, you have some opinions as well around the myths when it comes to romantic relationships, this is

Speaker 4: Always so, so funny to see in core confidence when we have like 10 guys and gals come together and talk about what they want to achieve. And very often you'll see this pattern where, you know, I, I want to partner and once I'm, you know, successful in dating and I have someone I love and spent my life together, then everything is easy. And then the next person introduces similar herself and it's like, yeah, I'm in a relationship and I'm struggling. And the other person who, what I thought it's downhill from then on out, right? So the spelling, this myth that we all seem to have, and we can go into why that is the case, that once I have a partner where their spotter flies and these pink glasses, and that person is just perfect, then, then I'm made right then it's, then it's downhill.

Speaker 4: Then I can chill out. Then I can be happy for the rest of my life and what people will very often realize then as well, now you have a partner and that's really good and healthy, but now you're playing a different game with different challenges where you need the new things that you need to pay attention to. And it's not necessarily easy. And now, instead of working on a challenge by your own, you work on that challenge with your partner together. So you have even more moving parts in there than before. And the first couple of months were, were amazing. So how come this suddenly becomes difficult?

Speaker 2: We see it in Hollywood, right? We see it in movies. That's probably the easiest one. The guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. And blah-blah-blah, if you believe that myth and it's, isn't that pretty, isn't it great. Wouldn't everything be so much better if that's the way the world works well. Sure. But what happens when reality doesn't match up with what we've been bought and sold? Well, that has an impact on our own wellbeing. Not only does it have an impact on our own wellbeing, it has an impact on how we go into relationships. If we've been bought and sold a bill of goods, that isn't reality will then what is the behaviors that we go into the next relationship with that protect ourselves that then now hinder our relationships from blossoming?

Speaker 1: Absolutely. And I think a big part of this is that life is challenging and those challenges come into your relationship, especially your romantic relationship. One of the big myths around lust and romance and getting really emotionally connected with someone in the beginning is you have this burst of vulnerability, of this burst of great chemicals and that honeymoon phase, as we like to call it, well, it wears off. And the science, I don't think is really clear on what that period is for each and every individual, but we've all been in those situations where it's red hot in the beginning and it's, it's new, it's exciting. We're learning about this person. They're opening up to us. And then there's a little bit less of that and a little bit less of that. And, and if you get caught up in these Hollywood myths or these romance novels, or what your parents shared with you about relationships, well, it's easy to feel like I'm doing something wrong and with a plethora of options, it's easier to feel like, well, that perfect person is just the other side of this relationship. So maybe I should give up

Speaker 2: AGA the word that you're describing is one that we've brought on the show before, and it's called limerence and limerence is the mental state of profound, romantic infatuation. It was defined in the 1970s by psychologist, Dorothy, 10 of and to come back to this idea of where certain myths are perpetuated. We just discussed this in our X-Factor program with some of the guys over this idea of online dating and online dating. I want you to use their app. They want you to be in constant chase of the perfect match. They're going to perpetuate the idea of the perfect romantic relationship, because that keeps you chasing for it. They're even going to tell you that limerence is the feeling of being in love and that when that dries up, that the relationship has dried up. Now, what we're going to be discussing on this show is that why that's not the end of the ride. That's just the end of that part of the ride. And then a better relationship comes on. If you have the tools to be able to cultivate that, which we're going to be doing today. But once again, not only do we have all these dating apps and how many are there now, I can't even keep track. And we've been a company that has tried to stay on top of that for as long as possible. It is just too out of control at this point. I don't even know how many

Speaker 1: Look at the names. Tinder, what does Tinder do? Light a fire, right? We think of a burning hot flame. Okay. Cupid. Oh, my angels fallen from the sky match. It's the perfect match based on the algorithm. So even their names proliferate this myth that the perfect person is just around the corner. If I search hard enough, exactly. They don't say, Hey, Jay, you got to change. Hey Johnny, in order for you to find Cupid, you got to reach your full potential,

Speaker 2: Trying to get you to buy into a reality that the perfect match is out there. If you just find it. And they're trying get you to buy into a reality, which we discussed yesterday, which was called swipe life, which is you're going to find your perfect badge. And then you have infinite amount of opportunity to go dating and taste all the flavors of the rainbow until you find the perfect person. And don't worry about it because swipe life is fun.

Speaker 4: We have two factors here working against us as humans, as homo-sapiens. And we need to give ourselves some Slack for that. The first thing we're battling is that we are the first generation to deal with this with the first generation that can take out the phone starts wiping and find someone air quotes better. Right? Our parents didn't deal with that. Our grandparents didn't deal with that. We can't go and go like, Hey grandma, can I get some advice? Because for her, it was like a dude, like there were three men in my village, you know, I picked one and I made it work. Right. And here you are, I don't know, 20, 25 years old while there's Tinder. Let me swipe again. Right? And the second reason that ties into that is just our biology and how our hormone system developed to like, make all of that stuff like kick in and the butterflies and that the pink glasses, and we're going uphill here.

Speaker 4: We're going no against the stream. And we need to consciously work on that and be aware of that and give ourselves some Slack. Like this is difficult. And we have very few people we can turn to, to ask for advice. And that might be the biggest myth that we need to dispel here in this toolbox episode, because here's what happens when you look at couples getting married. So this is when you can tell, they really take their relationship very, very serious, right? They know, they know that statistically 50% of marriages fail. They know this, they put rings on each other finger and they know it's a 50 50, and every single couple says we will make this work because we love each other. Love will get us through the thing. However, is that it's not about love, like making a relationship, work in the longterm and create meaning and teamwork. It's not about love. It's about having the right skills to make it work

Speaker 1: And such a big part of that is communication. And the way that we have been taught communication in relationships, certainly romantic tends to be from our experience of our parents and the way that they communicated in their relationship. And I know for me, growing up in a divorced household raised by a single father who got divorced in the eighties, I did not have a very good role model to base that communication off of. And in fact, a lot of the patterns in my life have been around withdrawing because my father did just that when his relationship failed, he withdrew from future relationships. Why? Because his pattern was withdrawing from conflict. It was easier to be quiet. It was easier to pull away. And it's taken me years to realize that pattern in myself, through the relationships in the way that I was showing up or not showing up and the way that I was struggling to communicate through conflict. Yeah,

Speaker 4: Same here. My parents got divorced when I was three years old. I never had like role models in terms of communication. And even, even now with my mom and my stepdad, like, they're probably not listening to the show so I can say this, but communication is not always ideal. And I'm always like shaking my head. I'm like, Whoa, you know, I need to go a different route here because I don't think this is, you know, I would, I would enjoy that too much. So it's difficult to have like really good role models and learn like from scratch, how do you do this?

Speaker 2: We can create amazing long lasting, loving relationships if we just understand and are exposed to great tools because no matter how much you love each other, and a lot of people think there's this idea of love will conquer all. I think that's another myth as well. And Michael mentioned it earlier, but I want to hit home. The point that it is, yes, love is great. Love is a great motivator for you to learn the correct tools so that you can create amazing open and flourishing relationships.

Speaker 1: And what we're talking about is let's take some agency and some responsibility for ourselves and let's develop the right tools as we improve and reach our potential to have that amazing, fulfilling relationship that Hollywood has sold us because it doesn't have to be a dream. And it doesn't have to be a myth if we actually use science to our advantage. And the first thing that I know we've talked a lot about on the show in the past, and we're not going to go that deeply into it. On this episode, we're huge fans of his emotional beds. And recognizing when your partner is trying to connect with you, being someone who had never heard of that term before, wasn't really clear on what they were. That was pretty eyeopening for me in my communication. So we highly recommend you check out episode seven, 19 and seven 20 of this podcast. A few years ago, we went deep into those signals in your communication with others and how to connect on a deeper way. Let's, let's take it a step further around not changing our partner, but becoming curious about them so that we can explore together

Speaker 4: When it comes to becoming curious about the partner. That is really the key and like this field in, in couples therapy. So we're not just throwing some, self-help your way, like this is digging deep into the psychology, uh, toolbox and, and research and, and the gold standard that you really find there is called integrative behavioral couple therapy. And this is really like cutting edge. And in that regard, and, um, what, what this, um, ABCT in short talks about a really three pillars and the first one, and maybe the most counter-intuitive pillar is you need to understand and accept that there are differences between the partners that you and your partner are not, uh, on the same level of introversion, extroversion adventures, spontaneity, and, and here's the kicker you probably got together because you were different because that was so, so exciting. So, wow. What a rebel, you know, what's with this spontaneity, wow.

Speaker 4: I'm amazed how good of a planner he or she is. Right. And then 14 months later, it's like, what's with all the spontaneity, like, this is really difficult for me to deal with, right? Because now it's a bit, you ate it now it's normal. Now it's the, it's like what's with all the spontaneity all the time. So we can, we can dig into, um, like specific techniques in just a bit, but, uh, to, to lay the groundwork with the principles. So you need to understand and accept that your partner is different and let go of the idea that first you need to change him or her. And then it's going to be good because that is not going to work because your partner will have exactly the same plan. And that's what you're fighting all the time. The second is you need to improve how you interact with each other, that strongly ties into this.

Speaker 4: And there are a lot of like conversation skills and conflict management. And so on that, we talk a lot about on the show. So we might not have to go too deep into this. At this point, there are plenty of episodes out there that teach you this. And the third is to really highlight the positive that's happening in that relationship because we're, so we have this negativity bias of nine to one and in a normal mind, it's nine to one. And, um, and that's a problem. That's a problem, right? If you, if you spot like all the, if you only ever noticed the or comment on, on the stuff that goes wrong, you have a bit of a problem. So being able to really shine that light of attention to, Hey, we did really good there, like the dinner we cooked together, you know, teamwork. And that is really the ability to create, to purposefully create that enjoyment together. And that, that quality time together.

Speaker 1: I know that was a tough one for me. The mindset that I had in the past was, well, I'm still here, I'm in this relationship I'm committed. Is that not enough for you to see that I enjoyed the positives, but let me talk about the negatives. And it's so important. We've talked about this on previous episodes, around giving feedback to others. It's so important that we highlight those positives and celebrate those positives openly. Not just think about them, not just share a smile and make it seem so, but through touch, through actual words of appreciation and allowing each other, to be grateful for all of those positives that are going on in the relationship, we know the negatives on the horizon, or there may be hitting you in your relationship right now. And you may be facing some difficulties inside of that relationship, but really sitting there and thinking about, well, what are all those positives?

Speaker 1: And those positives should be something that are discussed frequently in your relationship, as Michael said to strengthen it. And it's so interesting, cause we we've heard that the old adage opposites attract, and it's so exciting when you see someone who attacks problems in a different manner or plans in a different manner, or has different pursuits that can open a whole new world of possibilities. But those opposites also lead us in points of stress and points of conflict to be highlighted and be held onto as a negative. And that's why I think it is so important again, to face the fact that the positives and those positive emotions will wax and wane, but the more that we can discuss them, the more that we can share them and be open about them, the more that we can see them in each other. Yeah.

Speaker 4: And I think it's very important to understand that because your partner is different. Doesn't mean they're a worse, their approach is worse. They, every one of us, uh, we develop our own learning history, depending on the family. We grew up in the siblings. We had the friends that we had and we develop over years a certain way of approaching problems. And some people might grow up in a family where problems are solved by shouting really loudly. And if you are the one who shouts the loudest and throws the most plates around, you know, you win the argument. Then another one might have grew up in a family where, you know, everyone just sulks and goes in their room and slams the door. Now you bring, you know, the offspring from those two families to gather and one starts shouting and the eyes like what's with all the shouting, right?

Speaker 4: That's a problem. And what do you want to look at here is, is called the deep framework. So those are four factors where differences are going to really be important and you need to look out for them. So D stands for the differences that the partners have. They're really normal. Like one isn't more introverted. The artist's a little bit more extroverted. One is more conscientious. The other is a little bit more chaotic, neither oneness, good or bad, but it's the difference in and off itself that, that creates that problem and sitting together and talking about like, where does this come from? Like, how come that I, I noticed that whenever we fight, like you retreat, where is that coming from? And then you hear that story, maybe that, you know, that maybe there was like really violent, shouting happening. And that person learned to retreat. And suddenly, instead of seeing it as a flaw, it's like, Oh wow. Now I get it right now. I'm willing to, now that I understand where this is coming from, I'm willing to adapt a little bit and help my partner vocalize whatever's coming up.

Speaker 1: I know for myself and, and in my relationship currently with Amy, that in those situations that learned behavior of retreating and getting quiet when there's a problem or a frustration being expressed by my partner and maybe not even fully willing to deal with it. Well, her one asking me, you know, I've recognized this in you, where, where does this come from? And to being honest with me about how that makes her feel when I do that has allowed me to work through that pattern in myself, right? So it's one thing to point out the flaw in someone else. And it's very easy to be like, you do this, you do that, you do this, you do that. But if, if we want to change and we want to grow together, it's also important to point out how it makes you feel when someone is behaving that way.

Speaker 1: And we've talked about this in boundaries episodes as well. And when you really care about someone and you realize that, wow, these behavior patterns that I have, well, I didn't even realize I had them. And they're having a negative impact on the person that I really care about and love and want to be with. Well, it gives you a stronger impetus to actually change, to work, to improve yourself. And we've been able to frankly, do that with one another and share how her behaviors make me feel. And I think that's really important as we talk about communication throughout this episode. And I know we've talked a lot in the past about vulnerability in the levels of vulnerability. Well, these are the deeper vulnerability is that many of us don't show with just a friends or acquaintances or casual relationships. But these do come up in committed romantic relationships because we're spending so much time together. We're immersed in each other's lives. And I think for me, hearing that, hearing her being Frank and honest and vulnerable enough with me around how those behaviors impact her emotionally was really key to me realizing, okay, I want to become a better partner. And here's some ways that I can change and improve

Speaker 4: Realizing that you're accepted for the way that you behave and gives you that freedom to actually maybe even change, maybe be a little bit louder, maybe be a little bit mobile. It will maybe be a little bit more assertive, right? Because now, you know, that there's this understanding and this space to do this, the ESL deep framework, the first E R um, emotional sensitivities. So some people might need that routine, right? Others might be spontaneous. I am a total control freak when it comes to traveling. And former girlfriends always were like, Oh, we just go to the airport and we'll just go somewhere. And that makes me freak out because I need to have like, everything I need to know, like what I'm having for breakfast and day number five, like I need to know that's tough. Right. And, and both are okay. We both have our reasons, maybe a past girlfriends traveled with parents or family. And they were always told like, you know, we go to Italy, we go to, uh, California and so on. And for me, like traveling with a, with a wheelchair, it's like, I need to have everything planned because only then can I relax when I realize my room is not on the third floor? And I have no idea of how I get in there. Right? So both again, make sense, but you need to understand where they are coming from. So you can develop that

Speaker 1: And that routine versus spontaneity, it's so key when we can share, Hey, you know, this is something that I really value, but I'm, I'm open and willing to try something that you really value while we're on vacation or while we're taking some time away. And it's a balance there, right. It's being open to that new experience and understanding how valuable that spontaneity is to your partner. Yeah,

Speaker 4: Exactly. We have another E we have another E in the deep framework and that's external stress because that's just going to come, right? It's not, there's some stress between the partners, but there's also like all the additional stuff that's happening out there, especially, you know, in 2021 or how I like to call it like 20, 20 plus with the pandemic with homeschooling, right? There's a lot of external stress that, that also comes

Speaker 1: That external stress it's important that we're all aware of it. And we understand and give each other an opportunity with dealing with that stress a little bit more space. I think many of us are very tied and close to our own stress and those external stresses and how they impact us. And it can be difficult for us to see it in someone else if they handle that stress differently. So for me, that stress shuts me down for Amy, that stress needs to be handled immediately and typically through exercise. So for me, it's like, you know what? I just want to unplug. I just want to throw on the PS five, play a little FIFA, just completely get my mind unplugged from this. And for Amy it's, I just want to run as fast as I can on the treadmill. Both are okay. And if there is that external stress calling it out, Hey, this sounds really stressful.

Speaker 1: What, what is it that you need to help work through the stress? Or how do you feel is the best way for you to process this and encourage that in your partner? And I know the other thing is, you know, I'm very solution oriented. I like knowing like, okay, there's a stress and here are the three steps to, to manage the stress. And for Amy, it's like, well, I just want to feel heard. I want to process the emotions. I don't need solutions and solutions right now actually work against me dealing with that stress appropriately. And we didn't just magically understand that about each other, but we started to recognize patterns in how each other deal with the stress and said, Hey, you know, is there a better way for me to show up for you right now and asking those questions instead of just defaulting to the way that you handle stress. Because as we've been talking about these differences are always present in the way that we've been and wired through nature.

Speaker 4: And was that the question you used? How can I show up to help you better? Yeah. Everyone listening, like please take note, right? This is such a powerful question to ask.

Speaker 2: I think it's important to remember that the only way that we have to make sense of the world is through our senses, which always puts us in the middle of everything. So it's easy as a default to look at things while through your own lens. And it's not to say that you are self-centered at fault. You have to condition and work to understand other points of view and other lenses. Because without that knowledge, you're doomed to view the world from your own seat. And David Foster Wallace had a commencement speech, just really famous it's called water. And there's many different points that he's trying to make to the young generation who were, who are about to go off on their own ends of the world to make a name for themselves. And he talks about the hardship of it, and he talks about being young, but also he talks about empathy and it's important to understanding how the world works and that as a young person, that you're going to need to establish some empathy.

Speaker 2: If you're going to be able to flourish, because you're going to be stuck in your own box. And it's not only that what your significant other is going through when it comes to external forces that they're stressed out about as well as the, the relational, uh, experiences, but others as well. Because if you can have an understanding that everyone is lives are so different than yours, then you're going to be open to hearing what's going on. And not only open it, you're going to be curious to want to know what is going on with others. And that curiosity is what's going to open the door, which is going to prompt you to begin asking the questions so you can get that information.

Speaker 1: The second E is honestly, I think the most important and many of our members in our X-Factor accelerator come to us after a romantic failure or dissolving of a romantic relationship, whether it's divorce or just a committed relationship. And many of them will say, it's because of the external stress. We couldn't manage all of the external stress. So if you're in a happy, comfortable relationship right now, and you're, you're checking these boxes, you're like, guys, this is great paying attention to these external stressors that are completely out of your control and your partner's control and how you can better show up in those moments, or if they're happening to you, how you can better deal with them and the way you deal them, how it impacts your partner, being aware of that. Many of us don't get that awareness until the divorce papers are in front of us.

Speaker 1: And all of a sudden like, well, wow, I had no idea with all this stress, right? I love coming home from work and just about my boss and moaning about my coworker and going on and on about how tough life is and not realizing the toll that's taking on our relationship and how that's making your partner feel and how maybe your partner needs to see you taking some agency in that stress. These are really important conversations and what we go deep into an X factor around, Hey, we have to be open and honest about ourselves to reach our full potential. It's not just about, well, you know, how can I manage the other person? And what's going on in there.

Speaker 4: I'm getting goosebumps. You, you telling that story because it brought to mind someone who went through core confidence and, and taught me later on, he said, I now know why my marriage failed. I now know why I got divorced because no one knows this stuff. Like, you know, I wish we could teach something like that in school, even though every third grade is like, wow, you're telling me that. But like, this is, this is important stuff to know, especially now with so many external stresses come up. And then instead of it's us versus the stress, it's my stress versus your stress. And that's not helping that's, that's not helping. So the P N deep framework, um, you already hinted at this, these are patterns of communication. So how do you show up when something goes wrong? How do you show up if you want something and, and be curious and how you do it. And then also be curious about how your partner does it. Like, if, if there's stress, do you retreat, do you attack? Do you blow up? Do you jump into a PlayStation five? Do you jump into the gym? Do you run away and distract yourself? Like what, what is that pattern? Because only when you recognize that what's really happening, then, then you can work with that. And then you can, you communicate it. But if you're not aware of it to begin with, well, good luck trying to work around it.

Speaker 1: That's the fun part about it. Amy knows when I put on the headset and I log in to play some PlayStation, maybe in the middle of a Workday for a quick game. Oh, it's AIJ decompressing. Or if Amy goes and outside to hit the treadmill and the carport it's Oh, okay. Amy is, is burning off some steam. And when you recognize that in your partner, you also then have an opportunity to, to better

Speaker 4: Show up for them. Right? So

Speaker 1: That's what we're getting to. We're getting a deeper understanding of ourselves, but also a deeper understanding of the people we care about.

Speaker 4: I think it's important to always set up like, this is why we're in this mess, right? This is not, this is not how you get out of it, but here's, here's how you got in. So four skills you need to learn in order to keep the romance alive. First one goes right back to those patterns of behavior and watching out for how you approach and how you retreat. How do you not, how do, how does your partner and how would you like them to, but how do you react when the hits the fan? Because Asia, you just said, you're then in FIFA for, I don't know why you would ever go into it, but, you know, it's your, it's your PS4. If you can do what you want, like, you know, that, you know, has stressed out, unwind go to the PS five and unplug.

Speaker 4: But I think that many people listening to that, they've never thought about, like, they've never connected the dots. Like this is what I'm doing when, when this happens. And you need to be aware of that because at one point you need to be able to communicate that with your partner and say, Hey, look, I've noticed that whenever I'm stressed out, I do this. So I just want you to know the reason I'm meditating for half an hour is not because, you know, I don't want to talk to you. It's my way of unwinding and recentering.

Speaker 1: Well, I want to encourage all of our listeners. If they want to retreat with me on PS five, they could find me Jay harbinger, add me as a friend and challenge me and FIFA, good retreat together.

Speaker 4: Oh, you're going to get your kicked and FIFA that's well, these nerves now

Speaker 1: Bring it. That point is so valid though, because it's given me new perspective around how not only do I process stress in, in my retreat pattern, but also has allowed me to see that there are other ways to, to handle it. That may also be helpful, right? So that, that was wired into me from the way I was raised with my dad and watching his patterns, but through experience in being in relationships and looking at these patterns and others. And I know Johnny started this conversation with, you know, how he got excited about all of this is just understanding human interaction and behavior and patterns. Like once you start to recognize this pattern in yourself, and you start to date a few different people and get experiences with their patterns, you start to recognize like, okay, now I understand why this person is behaving in that way. And we then don't have to make it about ourselves. Right? I don't have to take Amy going to run on the treadmill is like, Oh, she must be mad at age. Oh, what did I do wrong? Like an all that mental gymnastics that we do sometimes when we see these behaviors and others, when we have a deeper level of understanding about ourselves and about our partner, well, we tend not to describe these issues to ourselves. And it, it makes for a much more peaceful relationship.

Speaker 4: Mentally. I started at this place where you get your kicked in FIFA. So that's why I'm smiling the entire time. Anyway. So number two, and this is where this is where it gets really simple to implement. You need to have time in your calendar, where you sit together and you talk about stuff because most people will come into a situation where there's external stress or internal stress. And then there is this clash, and then there's the explosion or the retreat. And that is never helpful because you're, you're acting in the heat of the moment with when all the emotions of boiling up. And you need to know that maybe every Wednesday evening, there's this one hour where you sit together with music in the background and a cup of tea, and you just go like, Hey, you're a couple of things that went really well.

Speaker 4: And here are a couple of things I think we can, we need to talk about and figure out, and having that marked in your calendar gives you the accountability and, you know, well, you know, this is going to happen. I might just as well say something or, you know, listen. And it also gives you the time to mentally prepare because you know, us introvert, very, very logical thinking, very, very much like step-by-step lists and bullet lists and everything like this is the time that we need in order to make a good argument so that our needs to be blocked out. And it doesn't have to be a confrontation hour. This is, Hey, we're going to drink some tea together, eat our favorite chocolate and just discuss how the week went for us

Speaker 1: With the lockdown and, and being in a situation, spending a ton of time indoors together, dealing with these external stresses, with work from home and everything else that a major change that Amy and I did in our relationship was just go on hikes together here in Los Angeles. And I found that hiking, something about walking side by side and not being directly facing one another. And I shared this in an X-Factor session. And one of our clients also started implementing this in his life, that sharing communication while walking and being side by side, and even talking about issues within our relationship or frustrations we have with one another, it really is lowered the stress level, the emotional response level, and allowed us to communicate on a lot of deep topics that, you know, we hadn't even communicated. This is year seven of our relationship, and we've now carved out time every single weekend for that.

Speaker 1: We wake up in the morning and we go on hikes in the morning, every single Saturday and Sunday. And I know I talked in the past about this on the show, having a standing date night, where we know that we're committed to time together to be open, to communicate, to listen to one another, because let's be honest. If we rail on social media, we talk about technology. We all know what happens when we get home from work and we get home from, uh, exercise or whatever else is going on, or maybe we're just home from work already. And we pick up our device and we're half listening and we're half on social media and we're half checking our email and we're half. And for us, the ground rule has been, you know, hiking. There's no phone out at sushi date nights on Friday. There's no phone out and that's created the space to have this communication in a more Frank way. And just the opportunity to be more present with one another. It's an on demand culture. And you can't have on demand relationships because you're not dealing with a computer.

Speaker 2: You are dealing with a human being who has emotions that they have to contend with in order to communicate, when you're dealing with asynchronous communication or coding or computer language, it is on demand, you program something in, it does something, it spits out whatever information or, uh, acts in certain manner. However, uh, with human beings, we don't have that. I don't even, I wouldn't even want to call it a luxury because I, because it's, it's interfering with our relationships. And he's the example of this is my dad and being younger, my dad would come into my room and he would say, Oh, I heard something happened at school today. Or something happened with so-and-so today. Would you like to talk about it? And any teenager being put in that position is going to say, no, I wouldn't want to talk about it. And so that is an example of on demand, communication.

Speaker 2: Listen, I just got off work. I heard about this. I need you to talk about it. Well, I'm not, I don't want to talk about it because I'm a teenager and I'll talk to my dad about things and I will handle it myself. However, if my dad said, Hey, listen, I'm working on something. I got to go to radio shack. I need you to go along with me for the ride. Fine. I'll, I'll go. So now we're in this, in the van and we're heading to the mall and there's this quiet time. And that space has put me in a position then to after about 15 minutes, guess what? I'm spilling my guts about everything that happened that week to my dad. Why? Because there is a natural innate need to connect with my father, but I certainly don't want to do it on his dime on his watch.

Speaker 2: When he's ready, it's gotta be when I'm ready. Why? Well, one I'm a teenager I'm being difficult, but the other is, there's a lot of emotions going on. And with a teenager that they have to work through in order to be able to communicate any sort of feeling, just to be understood. And that's not to say that that's not happening as we get older, it's just easier to maintain, but we still have to work through those emotions. And we just can't come home from work and ask our spouse or significant other that tell me what's going on because they might not have their thoughts collected, or they might not be in an emotional space to be able to open up. And if you force them to, they're not going to be able to fully emote and articulate themselves to a place where they feel that they've been fully understood.

Speaker 2: So by creating the space, getting rid of the phone, putting on some enhancement for the, the, uh, the situation that you're setting up to relax, everybody who guess what? After about 15 minutes, everyone starts dumping their souls out on the table because they wanted to connect the whole time. But you just can't hit a button and say, Hey, I got 10 minutes spill it. It's not going to work. And if we continue to think that we can bring on demand culture into our relationships, we're going to find that we have an on-demand divorce settlement paper in front of us.

Speaker 4: I'm so glad you picked up on that, Johnny, because that was a question that was going through my mind, as HHS was talking, there might be listeners right now that are thinking y'all case. So I'm ready, but my partner's never going to go through with that. Like he, or she will not sit down and do this. Now I'm willing and eager to do this, but he or she might not. And I'm curious, what would you guys think the solution here would be? Um, what I've done in the past is I was the one leading and not leading by saying, ha I know exactly where you screwed up, but by saying, Hey, first and foremost, like this thing you did, I really appreciated it. And by the way, this one thing I did, I kind of screwed up and I'm sorry, let me know how I can do this better in the future.

Speaker 4: So I'm starting by being an example, hopefully a positive one, if not through what I did, but at least through me sharing of like, I'm opening that door and I'm stepping through first hoping that the other person follows. And even if the other person is still a little bit timid about following, they are still getting feedback. Because what I just told them is some positive reinforcement. Hey, I really liked how you cleaned up after me in the kitchen when I had to rush out for, for work. I really appreciate that. And I don't take it for granted. Now, that's, that's already feedback. That's changing the reinforcing that behavior and the other person. But I'm curious to think too, to hear what you guys are thinking about this,

Speaker 1: That exact strategy is what we use. And it's interesting cause uh, upcoming guests, we're excited to have on Dr. Teres Houston talks about, and this idea of the compliment sandwich in terms of giving feedback. Well, scientifically speaking at Harvard, they did research on this and starting with words of appreciation first allow the negative feedback to be processed and actually retained. So if we just launch into you're doing this wrong, you're doing that wrong. You're doing this wrong. We naturally go to the defensive, but we always love to hear what we're doing, right? So you start with what that person is doing, right? And you are Frank about it. Then what I love Michael, is you actually take responsibility for something you did wrong. So then you make it acceptable to have done something wrong and own up to it and want to improve on it.

Speaker 1: And, and again, asking like how, how could I be a better partner? How could I show up more in this situation I realized when you were stressed and you raised your voice, I shut down and I withdrew. And with when I withdrew that probably caused you to be more frustrated with me. And I take ownership of that. Now it's a behavior pattern in myself that I've recognized. I'm still trying to work on. Thank you so much for being patient with me. The other thing I would say, and it's really important, Hey, there are times when your partner is just not ready for feedback and also asking like, can I give you some feedback on this? Would you like to hear my perspective on it? Right? That at least gives them an opportunity to say, not now J like I'm struggling right now and I can't deal with you adding on another layer of all the things I'm doing wrong at home.

Speaker 1: That's truly okay as well. So I love that idea and that, that back and forth and that ability to communicate openly and create the space as Johnny was saying to do. So the third one, we've talked a little bit about we've danced around, but I think it's really, really, really important to talk about how these things made you feel instead of blaming the other person for their behaviors, faults, inadequacies frustrations. If all we do is point blame in a relationship and all we're doing is throwing what the other partner needs to work on. And we're never really bringing it back to how it impacted us and how it impacted us emotionally. Well, there's really no energy there or interest or reason for the other person to change. They just feel completely defensive and hurt and you don't really present another option or another pathway of like in those situations. I would actually appreciate if you just raise your voice to AAJ, let it out, yell back. That would allow me to know that you're listening, that you even care because when you shut down and you withdraw, I feel that you're not listening. And I was like, Whoa, Holy cow. That's eye opening. I'm listening. I'm hearing everything. I don't know how to process it, but maybe the other person needs you to get emotional too, to see that response, to show that you care, this is

Speaker 4: The basis of every misunderstanding out there. When people talk that we assume how we feel was the other person's intention. So what HH has said made me angry. Therefore it was his intention to make me angry. This is what's going on, like subconsciously for all of us all the time. And it's from, cause if you're trying to guess what the other person's intention was, most likely you're freaking wrong. And so instead of saying, ha ha, you know that you, you made me angry and it's your fault. Like this is already, uh, an argument that does not work. It doesn't work. But if I told you, Hey, ha, that thing you did, it kind of made me, you know, it made me a little bit angry. Now you don't ha doesn't get to say no, that's not true because it is like, ha doesn't get to tell me how I feel. Right? You could say, well, that was my intention. I didn't mean to do that. But you can't say no, Michael, that's not true. You don't feel angry. Like screw you. Like you can't, you can't. And this makes this so vulnerable and powerful because it breaks that loop. It breaks that loop off. It what's your intention. All along

Speaker 1: Now, we are huge fans of listening. In fact, we did an entire implementation session around this exact thing in our X-Factor accelerator, as part of our monthly implementation sessions. And in this conversation workshop, we dug deep into listening in many of us say, Oh, I I'm such a great listener. In fact, I can multitask while listening. I can be scrolling on Instagram and checking my email and I'm getting everything. So if that's you fast forward, no, wait, don't fast forward through this part. You probably still need to listen. So let's walk through these levels of listening so we can all improve our listening skill, Michael.

Speaker 4: Oh, sorry. Sorry. What did you say? I wasn't really listening. I was swiping on Tinder. Uh, no. Okay. So, so here are here your levels in the workshop that we did. I actually had this on a slide where on one end there was like Darth wader and the other that was Yoda. So let's start at the Darth Vader end at the lowest level, the lowest quality of listening. And this is you listen to rechecked. So I smile at you and I look at you and nod my head. And when you're done talking, I say, no, you're wrong. This is why. And yeah, I'm still listening. But the intent is kind of, you know, or the dark side of the,

Speaker 1: Of you're watching this on our YouTube channel. It was when, when Johnny was reenacting, his arms crossed with his dad moment, you know, that that listening to reject, I don't care about what you have to say, I'm here, but you can say it and I'm rejecting it immediately. We default to that when we're in tense, pressure-filled stressful situations. And sometimes that's with our partner too. But if we're listening to reject, well, that's not a healthy way to communicate.

Speaker 4: Well, let's upgrade this just a little bit. And now you're listening to give information. This is when people go like, when, when they like vocalize or have their hand, like up a little bit, it's like, this is like, okay, just, just stop. Just stop. Because I have something to say, right? And we've all been in conversations where the other person just waits for you to make a nanosecond of a pass so they can jump in and interrupt you and give you that better information they have. Right? That's a, that's good at listening. That's not making a connection. Next is, and this is, this is where we get towards the middle ground already. So now you're listening to receive information. So I ask AAJ, Hey, what do you like most about playing FIFA and getting your asking by all the future listeners that we have on the show.

Speaker 4: And now I shut up because I'm really curious about the answer that, that I give from, from him. And given that the two guys didn't have time yet to kick his on, on FIFA, where you have to wait with that a little bit. But, but that is the idea I, I listened because I seriously want to hear the information that is going to come out of your mouth, but it's still, it's very much on, it's just one level removed from what's next. And that's you listen to understand the other person's content and content means the pure data, the pure data that that comes out of someone's mouth. And for example, when I tell you, I really like tomatoes sandwiches, now the pure content is Michael likes tomato sandwiches. Right. But if you actually, is there such a thing as a tomato sandwich, I just made that up.

Speaker 4: Um, yeah, this is an artifact of the improv improv workshop with it. But now you know that if you listen to the content while Michael likes tomato sandwiches, whatever that might be. And, but apparently if you listen a little bit further, which is the next step, listen to understand the other person's emotion. Now you're like, okay, I think he doesn't like tomato sandwiches. I think that was, I think it was being in a little bit negative about that. So, and when you start to listen to understand the other person's emotion, now you're in the realm of the emotional Bates. We were touching upon a little bit earlier, and this is, this is almost the gold standard. Take it to the absolute Shaddai level. And you're listened to understand the other person. And this is, this is important enough to repeat, listen, to understand the other person with all that's going on and all that's coming into what they're saying.

Speaker 1: I like equating this cause that improv tomato sandwich example is perfect for this because when we start to listen to really understand the other person, we're not just thinking about, Oh, well, I don't like tomato sandwiches. We're starting to realize, okay, Michael is, is vegan. And he's making conscious choices around his food. And I want to get to know, well, what are Michael's core values around being vegan? Is it environmentally based? Is it health based? You know, that is a deeper level of understanding than just saying, okay, next time I have Michael over. I got to have tomatoes in the refrigerator that many of us stop at those early levels. We just exchanged data and we're onto the next thing. We're back to our phones, but the people who are really good at building deep, long lasting relationships, they search for that deeper meaning those core values, those beliefs, those morals that the other person is sharing through all of this data that's being exchanged. That's how we show up for someone

Speaker 4: And outside of a relationship like listening to the other person, you practice that skill. You'll probably not run out of things to say probably not because just me saying, and by the way, note, please note the, the, the satiric way I sat this, right. Don't send me tomatoes and sandwich slices. Um, I really like tomato sandwiches. And now we've become about the entire thing. Like there are so many favorite tomatoes. Why, where, when did you first eat this? What, what, what was the best tomatoes? We have a really weird example that we picked here. Um, I should have thought this through a little bit more, but you a dig into that and really become curious about that. And, and something that we just, this weekend we discussed in core confidence that Ixinity and curiosity, they can't really, co-exist, it's a CRO sum game. You can be really anxious about how is the person going to respond if I say this and that that's exciting, or you could be curious and say, I wonder how that person is going to react when I approach them. And I say, Hey, you like ham or something. Like, I'm just going to be curious about that. And you'll see that anxiety is displaced by, by that curiosity and, and bringing that into a conversation with your partner where it's not, Oh, I just hope I don't say anything wrong, but it's this, I'm curious to find out what I did wrong and how I can do this better the next time. And this curiosity comes in and it doesn't make room for anxiety in there anymore

Speaker 2: In a world where everyone is asking for your attention. And not only are they asking for your attention, they can make money off of your attention. Well, then your focus becomes a superpower because it's the one thing that everybody wants from you. And so if you are able to direct it to where you needed to go and where you want to Excel, well, then that's, that is that's the superpower, right? So think about how anxiety plays with curiosity. Where does anxiety force your attention inside, inside? Where does curiosity force your attention outside and present and whatever, whatever it is that you're curious about. So if you want to develop this asset that you have, that everybody is willing to put all of their resources in to get well, don't you think that you should see it in such high regard. And if you need to be able to look at it and respect it with such high regard, then it is the one thing that if used properly will get you, whatever it is that you're looking for. And to go back to a point that you made about people who feel that they're not very good with conversation well it's because their attention, their focus is in the wrong place. And as you said, if you want to get good at conversation, you want to get good at small talk. You want to get good at holding court. You have to get good at listening because all the answers, all the stories, all the emotions that you need to create captivate and connect are in the other person.

Speaker 4: And notice how we've just, I don't know if our listeners picked up on that, but we've just gone full circle. We started by saying, usually we try to change the other person. And we've arrived at be curious about what's going on, both inside of you and the other person. And suddenly those differences are while there's still a little bit of a problem, but they're not the problem. They're just something after work with. And the moment you understand them, that's when it's no longer you were sussed me, but it's us versus the external stress. And then comes, there comes the tech team and everyone has their strengths and their spontaneity or their planning. And they introversion extroversion. All of that comes together through curious

Speaker 5: [inaudible].

Speaker 2: Well, Johnny, I know 2020 was challenging for many of us in romantic relationships. We've probably spent more time with our partner than ever before, and realized some behavior patterns that we ourselves need to improve. And today's episode was all about busting that myth, that your relationship has to be perfect for it to be successful. And I love the four strategies to really deepen those relationships. For me, this show is always about relationships, whether it is your loved one, your friends, your coworkers, and everything that we discussed today, I find myself using in my everyday life as well. So don't just think that these things you need to be in a serious relationship in order to implement these things, to get the results in your life that you want this week. Shout out, goes to the kit in our core confidence program. Wow. I'm so excited to see your mindset shift and confidence grow in the group.

Speaker 2: Your lively banner kicks off each group with fun and energy. Keep up the great work. What is core confidence? Johnny it's a six week group coaching program for many women to help you grow your inner confidence to become unstoppable. This course is set up to help you learn about your cognitive processes under different environments, including difficult social pressures. The skills you'll learn in this class will stick with you for the rest of your life. And the results are tremendous in just six weeks. If you want to get into our February classes, kicking off, head on over to the art of charm.com/core. That's the art of charm.com/core. That's right. Michael leads these classes and he can't wait to join you in February. Also, can you do us and the entire art of charm team, a huge favor, head on over to Apple podcasts and rate this, show it the world to us.

Speaker 1: And it helps us get incredible guests that we share with you in our interviews each and every week, the art of charm podcast is produced by Michael Harold and Eric Montgomery until next week, I'm a DJ and I'm Johnny go out there and rock it.

Speaker 5: [inaudible] [inaudible].

Check in with AJ and Johnny!

AJ Harbinger - author of 1153 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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