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Do You Hate Hallmark Holidays? Unleash New Passion on Valentine’s Day!

Up the passion in your relationshipsIs it time to shake things up in your love life and create more passion, fun, and  intimacy?  Relationships can’t be sustained on past memories or with the same gifts year after year.  So step outside of the ‘Hallmark-Have-tos” and do something different this year!    

Tony Robbins® likes to say, “Your life is a direct reflection of the quality of questions you ask yourself every moment of the day.”  As an Executive Business Coach, one of the foundations of my practice is asking powerful, engaging questions.  So here are 3 simple questions that will unlock new passion in your relationship on Valentine’s Day this year.

Before Valentine’s Day, ask your partner these 3 questions and look for his or her response to each question.  Which one elicits a more emotional response? (Note: these are NLP-neuro linguistic programming based questions; use emotion!)

In order to know you are totally loved, is it necessary for you:

  1. To be taken places and bought things, or to be looked at in a certain way? 
  2. OR is it necessary for you to hear certain words or a certain tone of voice?
  3. OR is it necessary for you to be touched a certain way, held, or have some type of physical contact? 

Everyone has a preferred love strategy.  And the way to get your partner more motivated this Valentine’s Day is to make sure you love her in her way, not yours.  Relationships grow and real love happens when you give to your partner in their own “love language”. 

Based on your partner’s response, here are some simple tips:

LOOK:  If he or she responds more to being bought gifts, taken places, or being looked at in a certain way, focus your energy on going out to dinner, buying that special gift or presenting her with a bouquet of flowers.  Give him or her a visual representation of your love, whether it’s in the way you look at her all glammed up at dinner or in a physical reminder of how much she means to you.  

HEAR:  If on the other hand, your partner seems to care much more about your words, reach for your pen!  Your love note will hit its mark.  But don’t stop there.  Make a concerted effort to reach out throughout the day on that day and share your feelings. 

TOUCH:  If your partner is more of a touchy-feely person, you might want to skip the greeting card and reach for the massage oil!  In any case, make a point to connect with him or her in a physical way at some point in the day.  Snuggle first thing before waking up, hold her hand on the way to dinner, don’t keep your distance… Find a way to help her feel what she means to you.

Relationship Coaching to improve the passion in your relatiionshipsFor more ideas on loving your partner in their own Love Language, check out my other post on the 5 Love Languages

Stop the Hallmark insanity. Invest in your relationship and create your own passion this Valentine’s Day!  

…And guys, here is a coaching tip for you!  If “Talk” is her top Love Language, link a new habit with an existing habit.  Pick up a few extra cards, put them in your glove box and when you take your car for an oil check, they will be a reminder for you to create an impromptu Valentine’s Day for her. She deserves to be appreciated more than once a year!  

Avoid This Networking Blunder: Don’t Ask This Question!

Have you ever been out networking, meeting and greeting, and towards the end of your conversation with someone, they ask you, “So, how can I help you?”  What’s worse, have you been asking that question to people that you meet?

That is a dangerous question to ask for a couple of reasons.

One, it might be a clue that you may have been making the conversation all about you. The general rule of thumb is that a good networking meeting will consist of discussing yourself thirty percent of the time and engaging the other person to talk seventy percent of the time. If a conversation has been going great and that question pops out, perhaps you have been talking more than listening.

Two, if that’s not the case and they have shared a good bit of information about themselves or their business, it indicates that you either don’t truly understand what problems they face, or you don’t have a clue as to how you can help them.  Either way, it’s not good.

In the first instance, not only can it totally breaks rapport, but it puts the person on the spot and places them in a situation where they’re supposed to figure if and how they fit in your business model, instead of you focusing on the problems they encounter, understanding their needs, and showing them how you might be able to help.

Alternatively, if you do understand the problems they face, but still ask them how you can help them, you run the risk of appearing like you don’t know how to tackle their issues which is not likely to foster trust and ruin your credibility as an expert in your field.

The reality is, if you have been asking questions, getting the other person to speak to you and been engaged, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of their problems and challenges. People more often than not, will tell you at least a couple of areas where they can improve something in their business.  From there, you can pretty easily determine whether or not you can help that person.

If it’s a good fit, fantastic, forge ahead, but if you see that you cannot or do not know how to solve their problems, add value by connecting them with someone who can.  After all, that’s what networking is all about!

Do you have some networking tips?  Share the wealth!  Comment below!

5 Communication Blunders Guaranteed To Torpedo your Networking Efforts



Behavioral assessments and hiring assessments will help you hire the right person for the job for the jobCommunication is everything and yet, it’s so easy to screw up. Sometimes we can fall into bad habits yet still think we are being effective. After all, how tough can it be to have a conversation with a potential client, strategic partner, or colleague?

If you’re married, I suspect you know how easy it is to miss your mark from time to time where effective communication is concerned. But it’s amazing how many times, in our work lives, we torpedo our own networking efforts by making every wrong move as we communicate.

So, for those of you curious about how to keep your business conversations short and unproductive, take note of these blunders!

  1. Talk constantly about yourself. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Make sure that you let them know your entire life history, all of your personal troubles, and how you know everything there is to know about everything. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in you?
  2. Talk technical terms to non-technical people. Forget about sounding understandable, focus on sounding intelligent. Trust me, your audience will be thoroughly impressed with your depth of knowledge even if they are clueless as to what you just said. So make sure you go for that “deer in the headlights look” as you speak to them. Be sure and lose them in the conversation by overloading them with jargon and technicalities.
  3. Link everything they say to your own situations. Take whatever they are communicating to you and make sure they understand how it is the exact same thing that happened to you in the past and relate that experience to them. Make sure they remember that when it happened to you, it was ten times worse.
  4. Immediately tell them what they should do. It is always effective to jump straight to problem solving. Especially when they have not finished telling you all of the circumstances of the situation. That way, you can be sure and show them how smart you are by not having to understand the whole situation before you know the solution.
  5. Multi-task during the conversation. Nothing is more effective to let someone know how important they are than to interrupt the conversation to multi-task. Make sure you finish that email –they won’t notice anyway, keep your head down at your computer screen, and stop the conversation to see who just called or texted you.

So there you have it, the top 5 ways to make sure you effectively mis-communicate on the job.

When you master these steps, you will be very successful at keeping your conversations short and to the point. People will stop walking up to you at networking events or dropping by your desk for support, and will leave you alone. Not particularly effective in creating successful interactions with others, or growing your business, but great if you’d like a bit more time for personal reflection on how to communicate better.

For more tips and strategies about increasing your communication skills and personal effectiveness, go to www.evolutionforsuccess.com. James Murphy is a personal development expert, as well as a life and executive coach. He can be reached directly at 919-745-7569As Featured On EzineArticles

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The Number 1 Red Flag That Your Marriage or Relationship Is Headed for Disaster

Life coaching is about personal development and personal growthGuys, if your wife stops talking, start worrying!

The topic of marriage and relationships consistently comes up in my coaching. I particularly enjoy working with clients on those issues relating to relationships because although marriage can be a great source of emotional turmoil and pain, it can also be the greatest source of happiness and feeling of connectedness one can experience. Being able to spot the earliest signs of trouble can help us make a course correction before it’s too late.

There are predictable patterns that point in the direction of disaster, but often, we as men, misinterpret the signals and assume our marriage is headed for fairer weather after a rough patch, instead of realizing we are headed for deadly waters.

One of those patterns looks like this…

A wife –not yours of course– is dissatisfied with something. She’s unhappy. Something is not working for her in the relationship. Maybe she’s not feeling heard, supported, cherished, or understood. And so, she talks. And she talks. She’s communicating and expressing her frustration or unhappiness.

Now if her partner is like most men, he’s not enjoying this process at all. She’s emotional and sometimes volatile, and it’s difficult to stay focused on the specific source of her unhappiness and not feel personally attacked. So her partner shuts down. He retreats in his proverbial cave. He may do that by tuning her out, physically leaving, or listening and quickly returning his focus on a friendlier topic. Of course, it does nothing to resolve the issue at hand, but let’s face it, running for the hills until she’s in a happier place can look very appealing at times!

If he continues to strive to avoid her emotionalism and consistently retreats to his cave until the coast is clear, his wife, feeling completely unheard, will grow more and more frustrated and she’s likely to continue expressing her unhappiness with more and more passion.

Until she stops.

On her side, this signals that the relationship is over. Emotionally, she has given up and disengaged. She’s done.

From his perspective, the relationship just took a turn for the better. He misinterprets this silence to mean that everything is OK. The “nagging and complaining” has stopped and there is peace! She seems to be doing things to make herself happy and she has ceased to focus on what’s not working in their marriage. Life is good again.

He could not be farther from the truth!

She’s planning her exit strategy! It may be quick or it make take years. But nevertheless she’s lost all hope that this marriage is workable and she’s preparing to walk. She might be going back to school or work if she wasn’t working outside the home previously or she might make career choices that will make the transition easier. She might find another love interest or become open to the idea, or she might shift her focus to more fulfilling family relationships like her children until the time is right.

When the day comes that she serves her husband divorce papers, he’s shocked. He thought things were great –maybe not great exactly, but good. This is coming out of the blue. Often, this is the point where he becomes very motivated to address what was not working in the marriage and he’s baffled to hear that she has no interest in repairing the marriage. She left emotionally a long time ago. She has worked through many of her feelings and although she may have more grieving to do, she’s way beyond turning back.

The irony here is that sometimes, this will be the trigger for him to change and adopt different behaviors and different beliefs. And if he moves on to another marriage, he may have become the man his first wife had hope he would be, which can be a source of sadness or anger for his ex-wife –but that’s another story.

The bottom line is that when it comes to marriage, silence is deadly, not golden. As uncomfortable as addressing the issues affecting our marriages may be, repeatedly running for the hills is often the surest way to get her to run for the door.

To your continued success,

James

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Be a better lover!

Want to be a better lover? Want your partner to love you in a way that really matters to you? 

Understand Your Partner’s  “Love Languages” to Create a Better Relationship

Gary Chapman has a great book called, “The 5 Love Languages” The premise of the book is that we all experience Love in five general ways or “languages”.

I have converted the 5 Love Languages into a simple acronym easy to remember: The 5 “T’s.” We can love people through:

    • Time: as in spending time with our loved one.  It could be just being in the presence of the other person or doing something fun together.
    • Touch: as in being physically affectionate; whether it be in a sexual way or not. It could be a kiss or a simple hand on someone’s back.
    • Tell:  as in telling your loved ones verbally how much they mean to you.  You might text, send a card, leave a voice message for instance.
    • Buy Things:  as in buying any type of gifts.  It’s important to note that it is the act of thinking about the person, finding the right gift, and trying to make your loved one happy that is the act of love that matters here, not the actual gift itself.
    • Do Things: as in doing something that will make your loved one’s life easier or more pleasant.  It could be making an extra cup of coffee, running to the store of your own accord because you notice something is needed, or going to an event that you might not have an interest in, but that matters to your loved one.

Although we may feel loved when we experience any one of those “languages”, most of us have a couple of preferred languages. Instinctively, we tend to love others in our language instead of theirs.  

Have you ever been baffled to find your loved one unmoved by your loving words or your affectionate touch because he or she is annoyed at the fact that you haven’t brought the trash in?  This miscommunication can happen in any type of relationship; with your kids, with your spouse, with your parents.

Imagine… you come back from vacation with a gift for son which you thought  was the perfect gift for him, he looks at you and gives you a polite smile but you can tell he’s unmoved and proceeds to ask you to sit and watch him play his latest video game.  You’re tired and anxious to unpack so you put it off for later and he runs off to play.  He never felt loved by you getting him the shirt, and you felt more guilty than loved by his wanting to spend time with you.

Sounds vaguely familiar?

While we all understand intellectually that each language is an expression of love, we truly feel loved when that love is expressed in our own dominant language.

So, how do you tell what your Lover’s Love Language is?

Simple. Ask the question:  “When have you known you were loved the most?”  Ask a couple of times and get a couple of different examples. The answers will tell you what speaks their Language the loudest.

I asked my son that question when he was six and he responded, “When we snuggle and cuddle on the couch watching movies.”  He is a Time and Touch” person. Just that simple. Knowing that, we switched from candy in his Easter basket, to coupons for extra reading time together, movies, or guy night.  My daughter on the other hand, can pass on the Touch, but feels genuinely touched when I take the time to think of her while I’m away and get her a trinket.  And she herself spends ours making “gifts” for the rest of the family. As for my wife, I can skip the flowers without worry, and drive the kids to school instead, or fill up her car up with gas. She’s clearly a “Do” person.

And as far as you being loved in your love language, simply tell your loved one what makes you feel most loved.  And when he or she loves you in that language, respond and reaffirm the love in theirs. By reciprocating, you will be communicating in a way that deepens your relationship.

On Valentine’s Day, find out each other’s love language!  Not only you will learn something, but it might just put the spark back in your love life!  Give it a try!

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Tips For a Better Relationship… It is never too late to address an issue with your spouse

One of the cornerstones of a great relationship is communication and one of the hardest times to communicate is when there is an issue that is emotionally charged. In those moments, chances are that whoever is more of the introverted personality type will close up and not speak while the other person expresses everything that is on their mind.

For the more extroverted person, once they express their emotional state they are done and complete but for the introvert, if they don’t speak up, it stays inside and is not resolved.

It is important for introverts in a relationship to remember to address and express their emotions and feelings to their mate even when it is after the moment.

Otherwise, it can lead to resentment, built up stress and anger, and unresolved feelings. Over time, this is destructive to any relationship.

To your continued relationship success,

James

Pull out the Fix-It Hammer Second, not First!

How many times has something been broken, and when our first solution for fixing the problem doesn’t work, we result to brute force? This rarely works, and usually produces results that are the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. But, in that moment, losing ourselves to the frustration feels great! I personally am always tempted to reach for my hammer when dealing with problems that arise with my computer! You’re probably found yourself in a similar situation on more than one occasion.

However, when it comes to handling issues in our relationships this communication model just does not work! You’ve heard it before – men tend to jump straight to problem solving mode. When something is broken we jump right in and want to fix the problem. Women, however, want and need to be understood first. No wonder conflicts in communication occur given the different needs of men and women.

Emotional states are not rational. They are not supposed to make sense. Every emotional state that a person has is “perfect.” It reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie, “The Last Samurai.” At one point Tom Cruise’s character is standing in a garden with his captor and they are discussing philosophy. His captor says, “Men spend their whole life trying to find the perfect cherry blossom.” At the end of the movie Tom Cruise has befriended his captor and in the last moments before his captor dies, they flash to pictures of a cherry tree and its blossoms, and his captor states, “They are all perfect.”

Validating a person’s emotions builds understanding; it is not what is said but what is felt that is the building block of communication. Regardless of who you’re communicating with (be it man or woman), your communication will be enhanced by remembering that “Validation of the other person’s emotional states always precedes resolution and problem solving.”

In almost any communication where there is disagreement, it is because one person is searching for solution and another for validation. Or alternatively, the argument arises because neither person feels they are being validated by the other. Validation from both parties always needs to come before the solution if you want to have truly fulfilling relationships.

Let’s look at an example: For two weeks Tom comes home directly from work and is on time for dinner. After two weeks of being on time, during the third week he is late one night. He comes in the front door, to be greeted by his wife Jen, who says something like, “Why are you always late and never home on time? Why can’t I trust you to do what you say you are going to do?”

Some people in Tom’s position might jump straight to “solution mode” and respond without validation – “What do you mean, I have been on time for the last two weeks and I’m late just this one time and I get all of this flack! What do you mean you can’t trust me? Next time I will call before I leave work so you know when I will be home. How is that? OK?” I think we can all agree that’s not likely to calm Jen’s state of mind!

However, if Tom responds by putting himself in Jen’s shoes, remembering that her feelings are driving the situation, and responds by validating them, he will get a better response. He might say: “I know you’ve had a long and crazy day today. The last thing you needed was my coming in late. I know you have a ton on your plate. I’m sorry I didn’t get home earlier.”

Then, and only then, can Tom give into his need to find a solution – Jen is now feeling that he understands her frustration, and is now open to hearing any of Tom’s solutions:

  • “I promise next time I will call when I am going to be late.”
  • “Let’s get a babysitter on Friday and have a night out just the two of us.”
  • “Can I take the kids for a few hours on Saturday so you can take some time out for yourself for a change?”
  • “Let’s just order take-out tomorrow and take a night off from cooking?”

What would that do to enhance the communication between Tom and Jen?

Keep in mind, you do not need to agree with the other person’s beliefs/emotions, tell them they are right or wrong, or violate your own personal beliefs in order to validate someone else’s feelings and perspective. Validation can occur even if you don’t accept their way of thinking or believe it makes sense. Tom may believe that Jen is overreacting, but that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate and acknowledge what has contributed to her emotional state. You can still validate each other’s position, agree to disagree on a subject, and still keep the love and respect between each other.

Next time, reach for validation first, and search for a solution second. You will be astounded at the positive shift that will occur in your relationships.
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Improve Your Relationships – It’s All About Your Communication

Hallelujah ~ Praise the Lord!

Have you heard the one about the priest who trained his horse to “stop” by saying “Hallelujah”, and “go” by saying “Praise the lord?”

He went riding one day and a snake spooked his horse. The horse became terrified and took off at a full gallop. The horse was so frightened that it didn’t realize it was headed straight for the edge of a cliff. As the priest yelled, “Whoah, Jesus, Stop” and a few other choice sayings to no avail, the horse just kept charging straight for the edge of the cliff. Suddenly, the priest remembered the command for “Stop” and yelled, “Hallelujah” at the top of his lungs. Miraculously, the horse stopped just in time to keep from plunging to certain death. Relieved, the priest exclaimed, “Praise the Lord!”

How often do we forget how important positive, productive, communication is to any relationship?

It can lead a relationship to certain death or raise it to the highest levels of emotional passion.

I have a saying, “In the absence of communication and knowledge, the mind has free reign to wander.” It is dangerous for the mind to wander because it is in that place that people start to ASS-U-ME things. And we all know that assuming makes an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME.”

Why don’t people communicate more? I think it is a lack of safety. In the parent child relationship, how often is the child encouraged to be expressive, to challenge an opinion, to share their different thoughts and emotions? As a kid, were you encouraged in that manner?

How can we provide more safety in our communications with others? How can we create an easy, warm, loving environment where speaking and communicating are encouraged?

My solution is to keep one simple component in mind. No matter how the communication is happening, whether you agree, disagree, yell, scream, talk silently, write it out on paper; never have the love go away.

How can we communicate and never have the love go away? Here are some tips:


1. Address the behavior and not the person. That person is not selfish, instead you have interpreted their actions to be selfish. The person is not their behavior.

2. Understand that the other perspective is just as valid as yours and try it on for size. Walk a mile in their shoes with their beliefs and understand where they are coming from. Be empathetic.

3. Agree to disagree if necessary and have it all be OK.

4. When you both disagree, find a win-win that is a compromise on both sidets. Never seek absolutes because then it becomes a power struggle.

5. Create a safe environment and rules for communicating if necessary. Create a talking stick, like in the Native American cultures, have a pair of safety chairs, and never threaten the other person during a conversation.

6. Pick your battles carefully. Don’t lose the war over a battle in the moment.

7. Stay focused on the real outcome you want to achieve. How many times at the end of an argument you find yourself forgetting what started the whole thing to begin with? Stay on track.

8. The solution/compromise will not be found until both parties feel understood, validated, and their opinions are respected. Solutions come second, understanding feelings, beliefs and perspectives come first.

9. Say it the way you want it to be.

Communication leaves a person in one of two places: it leaves us feeling closer or leaves us feeling farther apart.

Malcolm Forbes once stated, “It is always worthwhile to let others know of their worth.”

You don’t have to always have to agree with another person in order to find their value. I hope that you can continue to increase your levels of communication to a point where the other person always leaves knowing that even if you have disagreed, the love is always present.

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Focus On Your Relationship & Marriage: The Greatest Aphrodisiac

You are probably wondering, “Is it an oyster that he is talking about this week? Is it an ointment? Is it something sexy from that shop down the street?” Wrong answers, try again.

One morning last week I found myself in a deep conversation with my wife and it was going down a direction that I was a little scared to go. We were not arguing, because we never argue in our relationship, we just have “opportunities for discussion.” (or at least, that’s what I choose to call them!)

We were having an opportunity to discuss something that brings all couples closer together, our finances. There is an old psychological test that was performed where they put a man in a room with a crying baby and his first reaction was to leave the room but for a woman their first reaction is to soothe the child. Well, my first reaction when the opportunity for discussion on finances came up was to not only leave the room, but run like away like Roger Bannister.

But, instead of just listening to my wife, (some guys only pretend to listen), I found myself engaging in the discussion and really disclosing some personal fears, ideas, and thoughts on the subject that I had never shared with her before. As for that matter, I had never even really stopped long enough myself to verbalize them to myself.

As we worked our way through the discussion and arrived at a solution was a deeper level of trust, respect, and commitment to one another. We both had a deeper understanding of what the other really thought, felt and believed. We accomplished this level of deep connection by providing the one another the chance to be safe while opening up and sharing.

I have always loved my wife dearly and it seems there is a pattern that I am most attracted to her after our opportunities for discussion. And reflecting on it now, it does not really seem to matter whether it was a topic that we agree on or not. Whether it is something that makes up both laugh, smile and enjoy, or something that brings frustration, challenge and disagreement, it doesn’t really matter.

It seems to me that the greatest aphrodisiac is communication. Yes, simply stated, open, safe, talking and listening. Truthful talking and listening with respect for your lovers thoughts, ideas, and deepest feelings. When was the last time you your and your lover talked in a deep intimate moment? When was the last time you really talked and listened in an intimate setting?

I encourage you to do so this week. See what happens! You may find yourself more attracted to your mate than ever. Don’t just listen…engage your partner in an intimate discussion about anything. I will leave the rest of the details to you.