- Proactively, there are things that will improve our relationships with everyone that we interact with. It’s our job to understand what those things are, what would be most meaningful in each and in each and every relationship.
- Have a conversation with your family and get a score from them. Say something like, “I’d like to make sure I’m doing my best for you, but we know that nobody’s perfect. Therefore I could be doing better. So if a 10 is perfect and a one means I could only go up, where would you rate me right now?” Ask them, “What’s one thing that I could do better more often and more consistently for you that would improve the relationship?”
At home, we tend to not put on any filters. The worst side of us frankly has a good chance of coming out. But we can use this to our benefit. We can actually use this to improve relationships and also strengthen our ability to handle things that perhaps we dislike.
- Think about how the best version of yourself would react to certain situations, vs what how you react now. Think about it and try to react how the best version of yourself would.
- Lastly, create space. When somebody is triggering you, pause, walk away, take a moment, a deep breath. Just to create a tiny bit of awareness between stimulus and response so that you can choose a better, a more optimal response.
Your relationships at home are good, but frankly, you think, they could be a little bit better. You feel like things are running smoothly, but at the same time you think that there’s quite a lot of conflict as well. Or maybe you think that things are actually really bad, they’re not running smoothly at all. I wish they were a lot better.
I’ve experienced all of these things at various points. I’ve seen that my coaching clients as well experience these things too. My name is Eric Partaker. As a coach, I help CEOs, entrepreneurs and people obsessed with their performance reach their full potential, both in their business and in life. One of the things that I see invariably when working with high performing leaders, is that they don’t just want to be high performing leaders.
They also want to be fit and healthy, and they also want to be great spouses and parents. With one of the CEOs that I was recently working with, we realized that his home life was actually a real strain on his performance at work. It was really bothering him quite a lot because he didn’t feel like he was showing up as his best, that he was doing everything that he could be doing at home. I took him through a simple framework that you can use to significantly improve your relationships at home. It’s all about improving those relationships, both proactively and reactively, and I’ll break down what I mean by each of these things.
Proactively, there are things that will improve our relationships with everyone that we interact with. It’s our job to understand what those things are, what would be most meaningful in each and in each and every relationship.
One of the things I encouraged the CEO to do was to actually go home and have a conversation with his spouse and kids individually. This might sound funny, but I encouraged him to actually get a score. I encouraged him, for example, to say to his kids, “Hey, you know, nobody’s perfect, right?” “Yes, nobody’s perfect.” “And we can all do better, right?” “Yeah. We can all do better.” “So given that, I’d like to make sure I’m doing my best for you as a father, but we know that nobody’s perfect. Therefore I could be doing better. So if a 10 is perfect – which I can’t be because nobody’s perfect – and a one means I could only go up, where would you rate me right now?” Again, I know this might sound funny to do, but you’d be surprised with the answers that you get.
I remember his daughter had said, “Ah, you’re a seven.” I think his son said he was an eight. Then here’s the key question that he asked afterwards: “What’s one thing, which if I did it more often, better or more consistently, would increase my score in your mind? What’s one thing that would raise it up just a notch?” His daughter said to spend more time playing tennis with her and his son said to spend a little bit more time with him playing video games, as someone was very into video games. He thought it would be amazing if his father joined in. So his kids were actually giving him exactly what they were hoping that he would do to improve the relationship with them. He also followed this model with his wife as well.
“Where would you rate me as a husband? What’s one thing that I could do better more often and more consistently for you that would improve the relationship, that would help me be an even better husband for you?” If we just stop and ask those who we would like to improve a relationship with, they will give us the answer for what it is that we could be working on, what it is we could be doing better more often or more consistently. If you don’t like that scoring part, 1 to 10, and frankly, if the child’s too young they won’t understand. You’re 1 to 10 can just go straight to that question. “What’s one thing that I could be doing better more often and more consistently, that would help me improve in your eyes?”
That’s the key thing in there. It’s like in the workplace, if you want to become better as a leader, ask those that you’re leading. If you want to become better in your parenting, take the time to ask those that you’re parenting. If you want to become better as a spouse, take the time to ask your spouse. Include that, it’s data. Include that in your improvement plan, include that in your journey. That’s the proactive way to start improving relationships at home.
I mentioned there was a second way too, which is a reactive way. Now, we all know that some of our most trying personal experiences can happen under the roof of our home. We’re spending so much time together all the time. Tempers can get flared up. We can get on each other’s nerves. We can do those pet peeve things to each other, that kind of drive the other person up the wall.
It’s very, very easy to not maintain your cool, to get off kilter, to get derailed a bit. It’s far easier to do that at home than it is at work. I mean, think about this for a moment. Just think about this. Think about how you’ve reacted to certain members of your family, maybe recently, or in the past, maybe your spouse, your kids. Think about some of those suboptimal reactions, the ones that you’re not proud of. And now think about if you were to have reacted that way to a colleague. Picture exactly how you reacted to your family member. Now play that out in the office. Imagine if you had reacted that way, said that thing walked away with that kind of temperament, whatever it was. You wouldn’t think about doing this in the office, right? But yet it happens at home.
At home we have to be extra conscious of how we react because we tend to not put on any filters. The worst side of us frankly has a good chance of coming out. But we can use this to our benefit. We can actually use this to improve relationships and also strengthen our ability to handle things that perhaps we dislike.
The second thing that I asked the CEO to do was to list out each member of the family once again, and then to list out the things that really triggered him. What was the thing that his wife did that when she tended to do that thing would really irritate him? Then for the children as well. It’s tough to write that stuff down and put it to paper, but it’s powerful too. I asked him to think about when they do those things, how do you typically respond?
He played that out in his head. Then I asked him to think about, “Okay, how would the best version of you respond to those things?” He played out that in his head. Then all I asked him to do going forward was to create space. So when a member of his family acted in a way which he had pre-identified that would typically trigger him, to create space and take a pause. Create a space between that stimulus and response so that he could choose an optimal response. Here’s the beauty of this approach. You don’t have to know in advance how you’re going to respond better to each and every person. You could think that, but the solution for all of them to react better to every single member of the family is the same. It’s to just create space. They might have various things that they do to trigger you, and you might respond in different ways to each, but there’s one solution for them all to improve your relationship, at least from a reactive point of view.
That’s simply to create space. So when somebody is triggering you, pause, walk away, take a moment, a deep breath. Just to create a tiny bit of awareness between stimulus and response so that you can choose a better, a more optimal response. Use together this proactive approach – what’s the one thing that I could be doing better, more often or more consistently? You can add that one to 10 score and element if you like as well, with each member of your family, identify what’s important to them. Then that reactive approach – what are the things that they do that typically trigger you? Is it when you’re asking the kids to go to bed and they just don’t listen? Then just on creating space in those moments, and over time, you’ll start responding better and better to those and proactively and reactively. You will improve your relationships with each and every member of your family.