What follows is a brand of simple, straightforward advice on how to have better relationships.
The Relationship Algorithm (RA) is a tool to help you open communications, build respect and sustain love through all the years of a relationship. The Relationship Algorithm is a formula one takes to either tear down or build up a relationship. It works like this:
Relationship Algorithm: Negative Direction
Relationships break down because they are subjected to a series of negative responses.
Complaint to or about a person is most often the catalyst that starts a chain reaction of negativity that can tear down a relationship. Complaint is a form of insult. Insult is a lack of respect. Lack of respect leads to lack of trust. A lack of trust undermines the ability to love. The inability to love reduces the will to communicate. When communication fails, the relationship is over.
Here’s the quick synopsis of that Negative Relationship Algorithm:
RA/N: Unhealthy or Constant Complaint >Form of Insult > Lack of Respect > Lack of Trust > Inability to Love > Unwillingness to Communicate.
The Better option: Relationship Algorithm––Positive Direction
By contrast, a Positive Relationship Algorithm places communicate at the forefront. From there, a healthy chain reaction can occur that affirms the love in the relationship and builds on positive emotional feelings. Constructive emotions such as trust, respect and positive dialogue produce a relationship that is healthy and progressive in nature.
Here’s the quick synopsis on the Positive Relationship Algorithm.
Desire to Communicate > Ability to Love > Building Trust > Showing Respect > Complementing the Partner > No need for Complaint.
Within this spectrum of constructive relationship tools, there are also tactics that can help you work within each component of the Relationship Algorithm to build positive dialogue.
Solving problems using positive direction
For example, imagine a couple has challenges discussing financial issues. A negative response is to complain about money issues or disrespectfully accuse the other person of mistakes or abuses. That insulting approach leads to reduced trust, lost love and reduced communication. That’s how fights over money begin and continue.
By contrast, a healthier way to engage in financial discussions is for both people in a relationship to separately write down their financial concerns. Then carve out a time where both parties can give full attention and communication to the subject. If necessary, get a babysitter for the kids if you have them. Turn off the cell phones and shut down the computer (unless you want to use a spreadsheet for discussion.)
Agree not to threaten, accuse or complain during the initial discussion.
Always show respect
Promise at all times to show respect on the issues at hand. If additional information is required to make a decision, make notes and agree on a timeframe for action or answers on each topic. Focus on establishing a consensus about each issue on the table. If that’s not possible, and you need to consult with advisors or professionals to organize or solve your financial (or other) problems, agree to make that appointment and engage in no complaint on the subject until that issue can be resolved.
Likewise, do not engage or impose the “silent treatment” on your partner following discussion of relationship (especially financial) problems. This is a form of silent complaint and a true lack of respect. In many ways saying nothing is far worse than having a fight.
Also, be especially aware of Passive/Aggressive behavior, in which one person baits the other with kindness or passivity to gain an advantage, and then turns on them with assertiveness or even violence to overwhelm or win a fight. That is obviously an unhealthy, unfair and unproductive way to relate.
It is always important to be aware of your own emotional intelligence in these categories. Avoid using scare or manipulative tactics to get what you want. That is no way to resolution or healthy compromise where needed.
Patience, respect and positivity pay dividends
Some problems take more time than others to resolve. Again, if one person feels additional discussion might be necessary to clarify their position or provide updated information, be sure to begin from the communication side of the algorithm, not the complaint side. This prevents the negative feedback cycle from turning into a stress factor between two people.
As our financial illustration shows, a good relationship algorithm always begins with communication, not complaint. Even this simple guideline can be enough to control potentially negative feelings and get people working toward positive response to challenges and needs within a relationship.
The Relationship Algorithm can work wonders if you keep these positive goals in mind.
Christopher Cudworth is author of the book The Right Kind of Pride, a memoir about character, caregiving and community, the positive aspects of cancer survivorship and facing challenges in life. The book is available on Amazon.com.