Communication and  Expectation 

Expectations – reality = Disappointment. 

Yet, for many of us, despite this, our hearts remain resilient and full, continuing to hope for the best and then expect the best in others, even if logic tells us we shouldn’t. 

I’ve told myself for years to expect nothing or expect less. But expectations come standard with a giver’s heart and seemingly impossibly to let go of as an eternal optimist. 

It’s not that you want to always expect something back if you have given to others, on a petty level. It’s that you expect the best in others and hope they care for you as much as you do for them and that you will be wowed buy their ability to “get you.” 

That one day, someone will sort-of just read your mind and come through for you. Yes, hope and expectations go together. They go together more than hope and denial, as I’ve heard the phrase many a time. 

Having expectations does not have to be bad. It does not mean you are ignoring or denying an alternate truth. It means you have standards and a threshold one must meet to show you they are present and listening to your needs. 

The problem with expectations is when you take someone’s failure to live up to that expectation on a personal level. When you feel so let down that you internalize their reasoning for falling short, as if it was done intentionally in order to hurt you. 
Expectations may always be a red-alert zone for likely disappointment, but it can be helped and improved ten-fold if you learn to open up and begin feeling more comfortable with communicating your expectations with others. 

A main reason others cannot meet your expectations is because they do not know what you expect of them. 

Another reason in some cases is that they literally cannot meet or achieve it. But usually it is the fore mentioned; they do not know or do not remember. 

This is true for marriage and relationships as well as in business. If a person has failed to share what he/she expects and hopes for, then it really is a long shot in the dark whether or not the other person is able to meet it. 

Imagine how much better it would be if a customer told the sales person what they expected and hoped for in the sales process, enabling the sales person to strive to meet and exceed those needs, thus, making certain to close the sale. 

Imagine if your partner told you exactly what would make them feel happy or appreciated. Perhaps it is significantly less than you would  have thought and you could simply fulfill their expectations above and beyond quite easily. 

Imagine if you could make your friends feel supported, loved and cared for, just by communicating and asking what it is that they need from you this week or month. 

But we fail to ask often enough, if at all. We fail to share and communicate honestly with others close to us and suffer from feeling misunderstood or disappointed. 

I do believe in the equation of expectation – reality = disappointment, and there may be many times where this continues to happen. But it does not have to happen as often as it does. It does not have to plague your friendship, relationship or transaction. We can do better, together, if you’re willing to give open communication a try. 

The biggest issue remains that communication is a two-way street. Both parties need to be able to communicate outward and receive. If you are bold enough to share your hopes with another and they are not listening, we are back to square one. 

So what can you do? Help get this message out. Share this blog with those you love and with those people you wish to have a stronger relationship with, free of disappointment, resentment and miscommunication. 

Tell your spouse or partner or friend what’s in your heart and what you need for them to do. 
***Remember, however, that happiness is an inside job and nobody should be responsible for keeping you happy as a whole. You have to set proper expectations with yourself as well. That’s step one. But it IS also okay to have expectations in your life and to expect from others, just don’t make them guess what the expectation is at the same time.

Thought? Feel free to share your feelings on this topic in the comments! 

Written by Katya J.

Buzzword Consulting 

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State of Mind[fulness]

Sharing a wonderful quote by Marcus Aurelius: The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

mind•ful•ness

Noun

1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I have always believed that mindset matters. Our minds are powerful beyond measure. Getting control over negative thinking and negative self-talk is the first step towards achieving your goals and becoming your best self.

We tell each other to count our blessings and look at the positives, but it’s easier said than done. Sometimes you have to wait for the storm to pass before the sun is primed to peak through the clouds. Don’t be afraid to weather the storm. To go through the darkness, to experience the pain, to touch complete failure.

It is with those deeply tragic moments that we rebirth ourselves into stronger, more courageous, mindful and empathetic individuals.

Always remember that your pain is your gift in the world. Your journey and story matters. Stay the course. ❤️

Written by Katya J

Buzzword Consulting

Real Talk About Small Talk 


Small Talk. If you don’t like it, you’re not alone. In fact, 92% of Americans say they feel uncomfortable during “small talk” conversations and try to avoid them. Just kidding, I made that statistic up but it’s believable, right? I have never met a single person who says they enjoy small talk and try to avoid networking and other situations that require it. 

Why? Because it is artificial. From the moment it begins, signature small talk feels like it puts a boundary and limitation around the potential of the conversation. People who like to communicate feel limited and unnatural and people who don’t like to communicate by nature feel forced and awkward.

 

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Ick! Boring, awkward and often pointless since it usually ends with no deeper connection and both parties departing feeling indifferent. Small talk is just the only way most of us learned how to connect with others around us. It was the only way we learned to “break the ice.”
But the truth is, we have been silently guided by our society to never go “too deep too soon” or be obvious in our quest to connect with the community around us. Because “Hi, I feel like talking to you right now,” “I need more friends,” or “Hello, you look nice and I long for human interaction” would come across as overly needy and flat out strange.
So what can we do? Lets use our awareness on this issue and activate our communication skills to turn the dreaded small talk into small acts of kindness.
Lets think about this for a moment. What is the goal? If the goal is to connect, to begin something new or just to pass the time together in a more positive and less awkward way, why not use that time to make each other feel better and happier?
People communicate to make connections with other people. To feel good. Feel Important. Needed. Noticed.
Next time, try to ditch the small talk and use one of these ideas below. Notice how you feel. Does the person react differently to you? Does the conversation elevate? Do you feel better or worse? Was it more or less comfortable?
As with anything new, practice is important. So play around with this and try it often. After some initial adjustments, you will find yourself feeling more confident and comfortable in any surrounding, sans small talk!

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 A genuine compliment is so easy to give and yet we rarely do it. It makes other people feel amazing just hearing a few nice words, especially when they least expect it. You can compliment someone on their looks or something they have. But you can also compliment someone on how they behave.

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Now as a caution, this can backfire if your compliments are not appropriate for your environment. Complimenting someone is not the same as flirtation.
The goal is to make someone else feel good, not uncomfortable.

 
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 People like to feel needed, helpful and appreciated. While sometimes you really need to ask someone a question, this can also be a communication method to help break the ice.
Also, many people enjoy talking about themselves, so asking them a question or follow-up question and practicing your listening skills is a great way to come off as an expert communicator.

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If you don’t know what questions to ask, you can always work on generic follow-up questions that help open up a conversation deeper. The goal is to ask something that is open-ended and makes the other person engage a bit more.
The key with this is knowing when to stop. Asking too many questions can make people shy away or close up. Asking one or two open-ended questions that make people feel interesting and valued is perfect.
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Hold a door open, hand someone them a straw or a napkin. Let someone running late or with children cut in line ahead of you while in a long line. Small random acts of kindness are rare these days and really makes you stand out as a good, generous and kind person — with almost no effort.
Plus, you never know who you might bump into or connect with. Offering something simple to another person could open the door to a business card, new dream job or relationship!
Again, appropriateness is key. Offer to hold the door open at the store or coffee shop, not their apartment.
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 Non verbal communication is 90% of what you communicate to others. It is amazing how often we skip an opportunity to connect with other people around us.
We keep our heads down, don’t smile or connect with eye contact. Some of this is a learned behavior to stay safe from strangers when vulnerable, but it was not intended to be the norm. Mobile and electronic devices contribute heavily to this issue, but it’s also just become a bad habit. But more important to be aware of, it may be that you keep from making eye contact and smiling at others because you don’t want to be seen. Because you fear being noticed or, circling back to the initial topic, dislike small talk and awkward beginnings.

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Just try it again. Smile. Light up your face. Connect with eye contact and confidently say “Hi” or “Hello, have a great day!” You will be surprised how good it feels to do this and how positively others respond to it and to you. Because fundamentally, people do crave connections and communication more deeply than they realize.
Today, many signals get mixed up. Social media provides an artificial social scene providing attention, but minimal connection. Someone who may be craving a feeling connection and validation may instead seek a new relationship or sexual experience, when all they really needed was a compliment or to be noticed.
Just as we can mistake thirst for hunger, we can confuse our very normal inner desire to connect with others as loneliness or isolation. Affirm today that you want to contribute to a better community and work on turning boring small talk into small acts of kindness to make someone’s day!

By Katya Juliet Buzzword Consulting

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Developing Your Negotiation Skills

IMG_5552 By Katya Juliet

Negotiation Skills and Interpersonal Relationships

It seems that there is a small misconception out there: that negotiation only takes place in business, while conflict in our personal relationships is merely having a conversation (interpersonal communication) and/or argument about an important issue. The truth is, negotiation is not a process limited to the business world — it is a unique kind of communication that is consistently present in our personal relationships and daily lives. While negotiation may come naturally to some individuals, for most, it is a skill  – even an art – that has to be both learned and developed over time. 

Consider how negotiation has been used over centuries. In the public eye, mostly we negotiate over large-scale disagreements; war, battles, trade agreements, power, boarders, money and so on. But just as often and only more privately, negotiation in our personal relationships is taking place. Negotiation is how one individual (or a group) is successful in achieving their goal over another’s and/or finding a mutually agreed upon outcome.

Maybe you and your partner are trying to decide how to spend (or save!) your savings, which school to send your children to, how to divide up daily family responsibilities, etc. Or perhaps you are trying to negotiate with your child over which college to attend. People are constantly negotiating with their families and partners in personal relationships and may not even realize it. By becoming more aware of this particular type of communication and choosing to further improve your negotiation skills, you will ultimately have more success in achieving your long-term desired outcomes and potentially avoid future conflict with the most important people in your life.

Learning negotiation skill-sets ahead of time will help you navigate through important communications much easier. But don’t worry, if you are already amidst conflict and need to find a resolution, it’s not too late. In this post, I am providing some suggestions which you can apply immediately to help further develop or refine your negotiation skills.

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For starters, please note that negotiation is not simply about winning, losing or being right. In order to be an effective negotiator, you must employ great active listening skills, refine your non-verbal communication skills and be willing to truly consider both sides of the discussion with an open mind. If you allow your own bias to cloud facts or reality, then you are negatively impacting both yourself and the potential outcome, since part of the negotiation process includes revisions, clarity and compromise.

So, how can you personally improve and develop your negotiation skills? 

Start by abiding to the following relational “negotiation basics” listed below:

  • Negotiation, just like communication, is a two-way street; a give and take. If there are two opposing positions or interests, then a negotiation should take place.
  • Conflict is inevitable. Don’t run and hide from it, resolve it!
  • Separate your feelings and deeper emotions from the issue at hand.
  • Remain calm and kind: no yelling, anger, name-calling, threats, or violent behavior, etc. (this is NOT negotiation!)
  • Be flexible. Effective listening, revisions, compromise and seeking the best resolution possible are all part of the process.
  • Focus on the end-goal, not the opposing sides or positions. In order to negotiate well, you are trying to resolve something. The end-goal is what is important, not who is right or wrong.
  • Check your ego before beginning important communications. Ego will not benefit you in any way if your goal is to resolve a conflict of interest.
  • Seek mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Practice Empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes as best you can.
  • Don’t give up! It is easy to get tired of talking and listening, but in order to come to a final negotiation, it may take several rounds of discussions. Be patient and stay dedicated.

Practice-Makes-Better-gray-free-downloadThe list above gives you a basic outline of negotiation ground-rules. But what are the best ways to work on improving your negotiation skills using the guidelines above? Start by putting your negotiation skills into practice regularly and take some time to prepare in advance before hand, whenever possible. There are books, videos, and even schools on negotiation you can look in to, to become more of an expert.  But first, here are some suggestions on how to start practicing your negotiation skills right away:

 

  • Role-play and practice your talking points with another (unbiased) individual who is not involved. This will help you identify potential strengths and weaknesses in your positioning.
  • Write down the following:
    • Your positions:
      • I think, I feel, I need, I want, & maybe we could try __ (Fill in the blanks).
    • Supporting arguments/talking points that uphold your positions and feelings.
    • Your desired end-goal.
  • Focus on the end-goal and the benefits that the end-goal will have for everyone involved.
  • Take turns to avoid interruptions. If needed, employ a talking stick, stone or object you can pass back and forth — the person who has the object is the speaker and the other, the listener.
  • In ALL conversations, practice your ability to refrain from interrupting the other person. This will help during negotiations as it will become more of a communication habit overall through consistency.
  • If you get completely stuck and neither party will budge – as long as the issue is something that can be attempted in multiple ways – consider a trial period of each position for a specific and equal amount of time. Then, each person can come back to the negotiation table with a list of what did or did not work well for them and continue towards finding common ground. (Obviously, this wouldn’t work for things of permanent nature, like deciding to get married, have a baby or start a business, etc.)
  • Note: If you have a temper, practice responding in a calm fashion even if what is said gives you an emotional rise. This is important. The second strong emotion arises, especially anger, it will disrupt the entire negotiation process. Meaning, if you use anger and more threatening behavior to get what you want, you are no longer practicing negotiation and have moved into a realm of bullying and taking by force. Replace typical reactive behavior with empathetic phrases such as, “Ok, I understand that is how you are feeling,” or simply “I hear you.” People are looking for validation in most situations. When it is your turn to officially respond, hopefully some of the initial emotion has calmed, and you can try putting your frustration into productive statements that help reiterate why you feel differently. You can also try using a hypothetical situation or metaphor to help the other person understand your position more empathetically.

Whether you want to become a better negotiator in business or personal relationships, these tips can help you get started in refining and developing your skills. In today’s world, we are constantly inundated with messages (noise), distracting us from the ability to truly focus on what is most important or making it harder to stay on task. Because of this, it is important to focus on developing and improving our communication skills regularly. Also, the art of oral communication and negotiation, in particular, are ones that can easily fall behind, with such tech influence and focus in our daily lives – prompting us to use more written and visual communication, over oral and non-verbal skills in person, face-to-face.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and feel that these tips may help you in your next important negotiation. Comments are always welcome!

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet anytime through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.

Forgiveness 101

By Katya Juliet

I wish Forgiveness 101 was a class taught in grade schools and high schools everywhere. We are so impressionable at those young ages and experience so many hurtful moments between friends. When you are not prepared to handle conflict and resolution, budding relationships full of passion and emotion can leave emotional scars and bruises for many years to come, thus affecting adult interactions and forming communication habits for better or for worse.

With the many close relationship we will encounter over the course of our lives, conflict is inevitable. But, while it takes two people (egos) to fight, it only takes one to forgive.

Forgiveness can be a natural tendency for some, but it is also a developed communication skill. For some relational behaviors, you can try to “fake it till you make it,” when you need to just get through a rough patch or situation. However, with forgiveness, it is a different story. If you say you forgive someone without genuinely doing so completely, unfortunately, you are the person who suffers.

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Forgiveness is often hard to do because of feeling like we give the other person power; asserting they were somehow right or helping them to feel better and not ourselves. Countless times I have heard friends complain they wish the other person, just once, would apologize and forgive them first. But instead, feel like they always have to be the one to initiate the process.

However, apologizing and forgiving are two very different things often lumped together in one broader category of conflict resolution. So, lets sort them out a little.

Within the textbook Close Encounters, Apologies are defined as “admissions of responsibility and regret for undesirable events.” (45, Communicating Identity: The Social Self) In other words, taking responsibility for a behavior and not avoiding the consequence of your actions.

Generally, when you apologize, it is you who has done something of harm to another, whether it was physical or emotional. When you are unwilling to apologize for your actions, you leave the relationship in a state of distress and the only option other than destruction is for the other person to be willing to forgive you. When neither takes place, a cycle of denial and avoidance will inevitably become a force for further conflict.

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Forgiveness can be defined as “a relational process” and not one single act like an apology. Forgiveness can be something one does for himself or herself or another person, but it is generally in dealing with harmful behavior done by someone other than you. The process of forgiveness is comprised of four different characteristics: acknowledgment of harmful conduct, an extension of undeserved mercy, an emotional transformation and relationship renegotiation. (322, Hurting the ones we love: Relational transgressions)

4 Characteristics of Forgiveness

Harmful Conduct: “For forgiveness to even be necessary, one or both partners must acknowledge that there has been a wrongdoing.”

Note that behavior that may be okay in one relationship may require forgiveness in another. Not all relationships are the same.

Extension of Undeserved Mercy: “The hurt person must make the decision to extend mercy to the partner. There is a paradoxical quality to forgiveness as the forgiver gives up the resentment, to which he or she has a right, and gives the gift of compassion, to which the offender has no right.”

This starts with saying “I forgive you,” (explicit forgiveness in its clearest form) but simply saying it is not enough. That is where the next two characteristics of forgiveness come in.

Emotional Transformation: “Forgiveness involves an emotion transformation that allows hurt individuals to let go of negative feelings.”

A normal reaction to being hurt is to seek revenge, restitution or avoidance, which can lead to ending a relationship. But in order to forgive you move beyond that impulse, in essence, letting that desire fully dissolve and instead act with positivity and compassion towards yourself and the other person. This could be summed up as “killing with kindness” or “taking the higher road.”

It is important to notice that when we don’t allow this third step of emotional transformation to occur, we are not hurting the other person back. It is truly ourselves who  suffer the most. Forgiveness is an act of setting yourself free from the continued emotional burden.

Relationship Renegotiation: “Forgiveness entails renegotiating the nature of one’s relationship, including rules and expectations for future behavior.” There was a study here that found around “28% of participants indicated that the relationship had returned to ‘normal,’ after forgiveness was granted, around 36% reported their relationship had deteriorated and around 32% strengthened. Thus, forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation.”

It is here we find the power and importance of the renegotiation process and desire to do so by both or all individuals involved. If the newly negotiated areas of the relationship are not sufficient or one person is unwilling to move forward, the relationship will continue to struggle.

Connected to the renegotiation process is also how one communicates in the aftermath of conflict.

From an interpersonal communication perspective, active listening is just as important (if not more) as effectively communicating your own feelings and your non-verbal behaviors play a role in the process and outcome as well.

During conflict, a tendency is to focus more so on what you are trying to say – the point you are trying to prove in order to be right – rather than to communicate for the purpose of resolution and listen, in order to really understand what the other person is attempting to convey.

If we learn to be better active listeners, we may realize that there are common grounds we agree upon, more so than disagree. Also, it may give you the ability to “walk in their shoes,” if only for a moment, to best understand why they may feel as they do.

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Extending forgiveness non-verbally can be in the form of positive facial expressions, offering a smile, a hug or nodding that you understand and have compassion in the moment. Also, if we lack awareness of our facial expressions and bodily gestures, it can translate as aggression and cause even more conflict to occur.

It has been found throughout various research studies, that colors, sounds and lighting can affect moods and therefore, effect interactions. These are elements which we often have control over, so it may be worth evaluating your environment to see if initial mood and positive energy can be improved prior to conflict initiating all together.

Relationships are a process of give and take. Trying to be right all the time can be detrimental and thinking there is a right and wrong can set couples off track fast. Sometimes, the best resolution is a blend of ideas that come out of tension and initial conflict. Take the time to communicate and try not to give up in moments of fluster and frustration.

Conflict can play a positive role if you let it help you boost your communication effectiveness and propel your relationship to new heights. Just like failures along the road to success, conflict can aid as a new birth for discussing greater ways to live in harmony through the process of renegotiation and in better understanding the people you love the most.

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

Invite The Power of Yes Back Into Your Life

By Katya Juliet

Did you know?

According to the research cited in the book What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Dr. Shad Helmstetter, the average person – living in a reasonably positive home – has been told “no” an average of 148,000 times or more by the time they turn 18 years old.

Dr. Helmstetter refers to this as our initial “negative programming” and it contributes to how we learn to talk to ourselves throughout the course of our lives.

While that number may be higher or lower for some, it is an overwhelming amount to hear. Especially when the number of “yes” or “yes you can’s” that we hear over the same amount of time are only clocking in within the several hundred range.

Clearly, there is a tremendous imbalance at play and one that can only begin to be reconciled with conscious, positive, productive self-talk and affirmations.

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Have you ever considered how much more you could have accomplished had you been fueled with extra “yes, you can do it” and “I believe in you” statements from the people you depend on the most?

How much more confident might we be with the opposite ratio of yes’s dominating no’s?

Leading research in behavior and psychology tells us that close to 77% of what we think about is working against us – negative, counterproductive and potentially holding us back from many of the things we wish to accomplish in our daily lives.

On top of self-talk, our relationships can produce similar ratios of negative/positive interaction – thus, continuing this vicious cycle.

Poor communication and negative communication both contribute to the destruction of potentially healthy relationships. According to the text on “Ending Relationships” within the book Close Encounters, relationships can breakdown when they fall victim to the following bad habits: speaking too much, using low-quality communication, negative talk tracks or words and communication that centers around only one of the two individuals involved.

Close Encounters also highlights something in interpersonal communication called The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, which details the methods or patterns within relationships of destruction and conflict. Avoiding these communication pitfalls, as well as simply becoming aware of them in the first place, can significantly help your chances of resolving issues within your relationships. The following lists the four horseman, in order, from initial conflict to most severe.

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypses:

  1. Complaining/Criticizing. Example: “You are so rude! So need to be quiet in the morning so I can sleep!”
  2. Contempt/Disgust. Example: “Don’t be ridiculous! I was hardly making any noise. You’re just being overly sensitive.”
  3. Defensiveness. Example: “You don’t care about me at all. I’m not ridiculous, you are. No one should have to put up with this.
  4. Stonewalling. Example: “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It’s a no-win situation. Leave me alone.”

As you can see, it starts with complaining and criticizing and can be a very slippery slope from there. The examples above give you a flavor of what they may look like within an interpersonal conflict, however, in many cases, the conversations can be a lot worse that those – people say some pretty mean and hurtful things to one another, without even being aware of it.

Note, that even when there is a struggle with negative communication within a given relationship, the fact that they are still engaging in communication is actually a good sign. When a relationship defaults to stonewalling or avoidance, generally, there is an end in sight.

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In one of my classes at UC Davis, I recall discussing that it can take as many as 20 positives or compliments to offset just 1 or 2 negatives or criticisms. In my personal opinion, its probably not worth criticizing someone in the first place if only you knew how much work it would take to make up for it with your partner later -psychologically and emotionally.

Take a moment to reflect on how you interact with others in your close relationships. Are you guilty of using any of these communication conflict patterns? If so, the good news is – you can stop! And, if it is your partner doing most of the criticizing, you can still control your own reactions and responses.

So, how to we reprogram ourselves and invite the power of yes back into our lives?

It starts with attempting to turn the negative “default” programming within our minds to a more positive programming. Positive self-talk, daily affirmations and simply saying and repeating the word YES is a great beginning.

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Next, try to find ways to incorporate more positive messages into your personal environment. I absolutely love the artwork and pillows from Kate Daisy’s Etsy Store. Order a few of these and place in conspicuous spots around your home.

If you are on a budget, you could also try to make your own or even save one of these online images as a screen saver on your mobile phone or computer right now. (Free and only takes a few seconds!)

Another idea is to listen to positive music or love songs with the conscious thought that those lyrics are about YOU. Similarly, avoid negative or degrading music and lyrics that may be furthering the negative programming on a subconscious level.

Finally, stick with the basics of using “I statements” in your relationships and with your self-talk. “I feel…” is a better lead than “ You always…” Use more of your Emotional Vocabulary and share how you feel before blaming another person.

Last but not least – treat yourself with kindness, just as you would a dear friend. When you hear yourself use negative and hurtful words about yourself, slow down and make a conscious effort to stop. Seek more constructive ways of coping with the situation or simply default to a big, hearty “YES YOU CAN!”

The power of yes is within each one of us and this new programming is free! We just need to prioritize the process and start the transition…How about right now?

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.

Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

Do Your Relationships Need A Little Feng Shui?

By Katya Juliet

We know every relationship requires positive energy and mutual efforts in order to stay healthy. But what if, regardless of all your effort and energy, your relationships at home or work were still being negatively impacted just because your interior decorating skills? No, I’m not suggesting you go out and completely remodel your home. But do consider how your environment is laid out and what affects could be at play.

Within the realm of interpersonal relationships and communication, there is something called Microenvironmental Features, which generally states that the environment around you has specific subtle effects on levels of personal attraction and the liking of others. Everything from the color of the walls and lighting to the materials and facing-direction of your furniture can cause your relationship to further unite or even polarize.

Communication research within the book Close Encounters (3rd edition, Guerrero, Anderson and Afifi) states “Environments that encourage interaction by providing a cozy atmosphere can promote attraction. Environments that put people face-to-face in close proximity can also enhance attraction. And the emotions people experience due to the environment can also be related to attraction.”

Part of what contributes to this is something called The Reinforcement Affect Model. This is where the environment itself is producing the subtle positive emotions that transfer to those interacting within that environment. Specifically, “people unconsciously associate the feelings they experience in a particular environment with the individuals who are a part of that environment.” (Close Encounters, p.71)

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Consider the world of dating. If you feel extremely uncomfortable in your environment, would you be more or less likely to open up and share personal information or even a first kiss? Most likely, not. Comfort, emotions and levels of attractiveness come hand in hand. So, if you entered an environment on a first or second date that felt cozy, inviting and even exciting, the likeliness of a third, fourth or fifth date just got a lot higher.

Now consider this same concept but in your home with your partner or even at work with your coworkers. Both of these environments are ones in which we become so used to, the mere routine of it all can give the impression it is not having any effect on your life or relationships at all. But research now indicates that all those microenvironmental features, when done correctly, can substantially help the feelings of attraction and liking and therefore, contribute to a happier and more fulfilling relationship.

So, what should you do with this information? Take a look around. Notice the emotions and feelings you have while inside your home or office. Are they positive, negative or neutral? Could they be enhanced?

Next, consider the state of your relationships with those around you. When it comes to your shared environment:

  • Is your living environment set up so that you and your partner constantly face opposite directions and are located at great distances apart? Or is eye contact and even the “accidental” brushing against one another when passing in the hall happening relatively frequently?
  • Does your company sit in an isolated area or in a central location?
  • Do you keep your curtains and windows open or closed?
  • Are the doors to different rooms constantly closed? Are there certain rooms in your home kept private, away from your partner?

The list could go on and on. The point is, reflect. Pay attention. Pinpoint your emotions as you move from room to room. See if the environment in which you spend most of your time is helping or hindering the development of your relationships. It is true that people feel fonder to those who they find attractive. So, if just a few small tweaks of your living room can help the feelings of positivity and attractiveness flow… I say, go for it.

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EXTRA: Not related to the interpersonal communication element directly, but I have also heard great things about Color Therapy, in where the colors themselves are doing the communication. Incorporating this concept as well could help as you consider changing a few things around within your home or office environment. Here is an intro link to this form another blog titled Art Therapy, as well as a few images just in case you find this topic interesting.)

Thepsychofcolor colour therapy wheel