Relationship Advice – Simple but Not Always Easy

Tag: Personal Growth,Relationship AdviceNeill Gibson

Black and White Relationship Skills

No, I’m not talking about ethnicity, I’m talking about simplicity. Whenever I’m looking to improve the quality of a relationship, be more productive, or get through my next AFGO, Occam’s razor always seems to apply. “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”

In this case, I’m talking about the simplest way to interpret what I’m working on. So, for example let’s say, as is so often the case, I’m working on my ability to hear what other people say in ways that are more enjoyable, more accurate, and produce more of the results that we both want.

Does that sound like something you’d like?

I’ve learned that of the simplest possible ways to hear what people are saying is to figure out if they’re saying “I need” or “I’m grateful.” Put it another way, whenever I can remember, I try to hear whatever people say as either “please” or “thank you.”

Is it Please or Thank You?

Sometimes it’s easy to tell which is which: “Would you take the trash out before we leave?” “That was a great dinner!”

It’s pretty obvious which of these is please and which is thank you. It seems much more challenging if we hear someone blaming, criticizing, or excuse making, using statements like:

  • “Idiot! Don’t you know how to drive!”
  • “Why are you wasting time on that?”
  • “You never keep your promises!”
  • “It’s not my fault that …”
  • “I forgot to …”

Again, it’s obvious that these are definitely not “thank you,” so they must be “please.” Unfortunately, they are please said in a suicidal way. Suicidal because saying please in these ways is likely to kill the possibility of getting the underlying needs met.

1. Have Need …  2. Take Aim at Foot …  3. Pull Trigger!

The sad thing is, it seems the more important, urgent, or critical the need is, the more likely people will express it in these suicidal ways. Ways that are likely to trigger the heck out of the people they are actually saying please to.

Most reality TV shows are a great place to watch this in action and to practice identifying which times people are saying please and which times they are saying thank you. Whether you use a reality TV show, or your personal relationships for practice, notice how the more hurt and more angry a person is, the more likely they are to express please in the form of blame, criticism, judgment, excuses, etc.

Kind of sad isn’t it?

What’s the Point of Hearing Please or Thank You?

How does hearing please or thank you help me have conversations that are more enjoyable, more accurate, and produce more of the results that we both want? It helps me remember that any form of blame, criticism, judgment, or excuse is the other person expressing a need. And that the more hurt or angry a person sounds the more desperate they are for help, and scared that the need won’t be met.

And if I’m able to hear a person desperately wanting help with their need, I’m much less likely to be triggered by the suicidal way they’re saying please, and much more likely to find in me the compassion to hear their need and to offer my help.

And giving with joy is the most fun game I’ve found to play so far in my life.

What Happens if You Try Hearing Everything as Please or Thank You?

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about listening to people this way. Even more interested in hearing about your experience if you try it.

It occurs to me that some of you might be wondering which bucket you’d put “yes” and “no” in. You might be surprised to hear that I never hear people say “no.” But that’s a different blog post. :~)

Until then …

Committed to Your Success,

Neill Gibson

Little Known Ways to Rebuild Intimacy in Your Relationship – Part 7

Seven Steps that Rebuild Intimacy – A Seven Part SeriesRebuild Intimacy

Here’s Step 7. If you missed the beginning of the series, click here: Rebuild Intimacy – Part One

Step 7: Celebrate and Renegotiate.

Okay, so far you have:
• Created a Safe Space for your Open Dialogue
• Commit to the Discovery Process
• Create a Mutual Intention
• Each started asking For What You Want
• Made agreements about who’s willing to do what and when

Now what you need to know is that either what you’ve agreed to will happen or it won’t.

This is just the truth of making agreements. The typical tendency is to get upset when an agreement isn’t kept. We have a different much more satisfying option.

We suggest, each time someone keeps an agreement, that everyone immediately acknowledge and celebrate this wonderful contribution to your relationship.

However, when some agreements aren’t kept–and some agreements are bound not to be kept–this is also cause for celebration, not the wringing of hands.

Why? Because all it means is that you weren’t as clear as you needed to be to make a successful agreement and all there is to do is renegotiate.

Don’t take it as a personal affront, all it means is that something was missing from the original agreement. Find out what prevented the agreement from being kept. After you figure out what was missing, go back to your intention and use what you’ve discovered to renegotiate the strategies and make new agreements.

Rebuilding the intimacy in your relationship needn’t be difficult. All it takes is that both parties are willing, you have resources that support you, and a mutual intention to guide you forward.

With these pieces of the foundation in place, your success in building a happy, healthy relationship, filled with love and intimacy is guaranteed.

With great love and appreciation,
Beth and Neill

You Are In Control – How to Fix Your Relationship Problems in Four Simple Steps

[tag-tec]Need Relationship Advice[/tag-tec]?


If you’re unhappy with any of your [tag-tec]relationships[/tag-tec], you’re probably placing some of the blame on the other person. At one level, it does make it easier to handle, when we don’t think it is entirely our fault if things are not how we would like them to be. But at the same time we are only prolonging our pain and suffering, because you are in control of your own peace and happiness.. It’s time to stop waiting for the other person to change.

You probably already realize that you cannot change other people, so stop trying. Now this is not to say you can’t request cooperation or negotiate agreements, what we’re saying is you must first begin with yourself. You are in control of creating the healthier, happier relationships you want.

It’s true. Changing relationships that are not going the way you would like them to is actually possible. Sometimes talking about problems helps resolve them, other times more drastic measures are called for. Whatever the problem, you probably already know that ignoring it is not going to help. Here are four steps that you can take to [tag-tec]improve your relationships[/tag-tec], even if you think you’ve already done all that you can.

One – Discover What Your Values Are

Before you can fix a troubled relationship, you must clearly identify what it is that you value for yourself. Think about exactly what you want to experience in your relationships. Maybe you value peaceful, harmonious relationships, ones that do not involve conflict or fighting. You might want to have more honest and satisfying relationships.

Values are not equivalent to strategies. You cannot establish harmony and peace in a relationship simply by eliminating conflict and fighting. You have to develop a strategy that will lead you to harmony—not just to avoid fighting.

Two – Decide What it is That You Truly Want from Your Relationships

When you are identifying your values and strategies, it’s critical that you focus on the positives of what you DO want, not what you DON’T want. These two things are not one and the same.

If you identify that you do not want your significant other to spend so much time with their friends, and then they decide to work more, this is not solving any of your relationship problems. Instead, identify a value such as connection or intimacy, and then focus your attention on developing strategies that work toward that value.

If you express things in terms of what you DON’T want, this does not clarify what you DO want. Instead of saying things in negative terms, express to your relationship partners what it is that you do want and look forward to from your relationship, and you will be more likely to get those things specifically. Only then will you see the real changes you hoped for.

Three – Take Time to Find Out What the Other Person Wants

So, you have successfully identified what it is that you want in your relationship. Now, it’s time to identify what it is that the other person wants. This is the only way you can truly create a shared vision for the relationship. Identifying what you each want makes it possible for all parties to be satisfied. By taking the initiative, you are demonstrating how much you care about the relationship, opening the other person to the possibility of wanting to make it better, too.

You can help the other person identify what they value in a few different ways. One is to ask them what they want in the relationship. This is not always the most effective method; however, because others may not know what’s most important to them. Another way is to observe their behaviors, and guess what the value that may be driving them to behave in certain ways. Remember, only guess strategy free values. You can use our free value sheet as a guide.

It is very likely that if you ask the other person what they want, they’ll tell you how they want you to change something. As discussed earlier, changing the other person is not the best way to make a relationship better. They just might not realize this yet. You can help get to their underlying values by doing a little digging on your own, and even telling them about the values that you have identified for yourself and how you learned to do that. Mutual satisfaction is the goal, and helping your relationship partner identify what they would like is one step you can take toward better relationship cooperation.

Four – Don’t Be too Hard on Yourself

Any relationship difficulty can leave a person feeling tremendous amounts of pain, self-doubt, or insecurity. Recognize these feelings in yourself, and remember that these uncomfortable feelings can be easily triggered by small things that happen.

When triggering events happen and you react in ways you don’t enjoy, remember to shift your focus of attention to what you are trying to accomplish. Keep in mind that you cannot change the past, and let yourself off the hook a little bit for things you may have done that you regret. Don’t assume that the past will predict the future. The future is the part you have the ability to change.

You need to avoid taking your own feelings personally, too. When you experience self-doubt, guilt, or insecurity, remember that everyone feels these things at some point. Identify the triggers that have you react rather than respond in a situation, and take the necessary steps to recharge yourself and get back to the positive place that you have worked so hard to develop.

It is important to be gentle with yourself during difficult times. Relationships can be very tricky, so give yourself some credit for attempting to make your relationships healthy and happier. Stay aligned with your values, and you will reap the rewards. We guarantee it!

A Healthy Relationships Checklist – Enhance the Love in Your Life

How do you enhance the love in your life?

A friend recently asked us if we knew of a [tag-tec]relationship checklist[/tag-tec] she and her boyfriend could use as a guide for keeping their year-old [tag-tec]relationship[/tag-tec] on track as it continues to develop.

While there are a lot of lists out there that deal with how to determine if you have a [tag-tec]relationship in trouble[/tag-tec]–what you don’t want–we know of very few that focus on activities you can engage in that will help you [tag-tec]enhance your relationship[/tag-tec]–what you do want.

As you may know we are very fond of saying: What you focus your attention on grows.

Since we believe so strongly that this is true, we were happy to come across a [tag-tec]Relationship Checklist[/tag-tec] developed by Nicholas de Castella of the Institute of Heart Intelligence (

We like it because it shows you [tag-tec]intimacy building activities[/tag-tec] that will get you more of what you do want in your [tag-tec]love relationship[/tag-tec]!

Here are the sections that offer [tag-tec]relationship advice[/tag-tec] for [tag-tec]enhancing the love in your relationship[/tag-tec]:

  • [tag-tec]Have Fun Together[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Maintain Individuality[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Engage Fully[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Spend Time Together[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Speak Your Truth[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Be Vulnerable[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Honor Each Other[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Be Responsible[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Develop Trust[/tag-tec]
  • [tag-tec]Enjoy Sex[/tag-tec]

Each section expands on the topic with some very nice insights and advice.

We found this [tag-tec]Relationship Advice Checklist[/tag-tec] online as a Google Doc.

You can take a look at it here:



Relationship Equality – Who’s Responsible for Your Happiness?

Tag: Personal GrowthBeth and Neill

When Does 50 Plus 50 Still Equal 50?


Do you want your [tag-tec]relationships[/tag-tec] to be fair–where everyone does their part and shares in the benefits equally? Have you ever heard it said that for a relationship to work, it has to be 50/50

Many people today believe the myth that happiness and satisfaction come from 50/50 relationships. In these relationships, people contribute equally– each doing their 50%– to make them work. You can spot people who believe this myth in all kinds of relationships: between friends, romantic partners, family members and business colleagues. Belief in this myth is a major reason why people find themselves dissatisfied and frustrated about their relationships.

Why? Because if we expect the other person to do their 50% and they don’t do it, we’re disappointed and upset. As soon as one person starts keeping score to make sure the other person is doing their 50%, it becomes very difficult to have a relationship that’s happy and satisfying.

We suggest that you stop spending your time making sure the other person is completing their 50% and instead, start being 100% responsible for your happiness and satisfaction in the relationship.

100% Responsible

We know this is a radical idea, but when we pass on the responsibility for our satisfaction and control of our feelings to anyone or anything “out there”, we limit our power and the possibilities for our happiness. We may want to be happy, but we’ve put our happiness in the hands of other people.

Being 100% responsible means you never give up, and never give in on anything that is important to you. If something is missing in your relationship, what can you do to make sure you get it? If something’s happening in your relationship you don’t like, what can you do to change how it’s happening?

Don’t ever leave your ability to have a[tag-tec] satisfying relationship[/tag-tec] in anyone else’s hands. If true happiness in all your relationships is what you’re looking for, start creating 100% relationships with yourself and others today.

This week… Any time you notice yourself checking whether the other person is doing their 50%, stop and identify what’s happening now that you’re not enjoying, what it is that you do want to happen, and figure out one thing you can do to start experiencing what you want.
Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

We would love to hear from you, what do you think [tag-tec]creates a great relationship[/tag-tec]?

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