“Love at First Sight” – Myth or truth?

Let’s take a peak at some of the more common concepts above “love” relationships and see if they are myths or based upon reality.

“All we need is love.” Myth or not? Since love does seem to be able to overcome anything and everything, at least on television and at the movies, this seems like a reality.

However, truth is, making relationships work takes skill and hard work, regardless of the “love” factor. This is a myth here.

Just like in fairy tales, once true love is found, people live happily ever after. Truth or myth?

Granted couples can look into each other’s eyes and have those warm fuzzy feelings. However, truth is, all couples will have their ups and downs.

“Happily ever after” seems to imply a perfect, problem-less relationship when in reality, those don’t exist.

It has to be “love at first sight” in order to work long-term. Myth or truth?

While this can be true for some, it certainly doesn’t have to be for all couples in long-term relationships. Many people grow together over time.

Since practically anyone can learn the nuts and bolts of relationship building, focusing on some basic techniques that can be learned is a must. The main ones, in no particular order, are:

–     Read: “Read” people well.

–     Rapport: Develop rapport with others well.

–     Finesse: Have some finesse; i.e. handle conversations and activities in a cordial manner

–     Conflict Resolution: Resolve negative issues and conflicts without too much friction

–     Support Co-Op: Gain the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal

Let’s take a little closer look at each and what learning is involved.

READING PEOPLE: BODY LANGUAGE BRIEFING

Body language is the meaning behind the words or the “unspoken” language.

Surprisingly, studies show that only up to an estimated 10 percent of our communication is verbal. The majority of the rest of communication is unspoken. This unspoken language isn’t rocket science.

However, there are some generalizations or basic interpretations that can be applied to help with the understanding or translating of these unspoken meanings. Here are some basics below.

Smile – People like warm smiles. Think of a heartfelt warm-fussy, maybe your favorite pet, and smile.

Eyes – -If you don’t look someone in the eyes while speaking, this can be interpreted as dishonesty or hiding something. Likewise, shifting eye movement or rapid changing of focus/direction can translate similarly. If more than one person is present in a group, look each person in the eye as you speak, slowly turning to face the next person and acknowledge him or her with eye contact as well. Continue on so that each person has felt your warm, trusting glance. Some suggest beginning with one person and moving clockwise around the group so that no one is missed, and so that you are not darting around, seemingly glaring at people.

Attention Span / Attitude – Other people can tell what type attitude you have by your attention span. If you quickly lose focus of the other person and what is being said, and if your attention span wanders, this shows through and makes you seem disinterested, bored, possibly even uncaring.

Attention Direction – If you sit or stand so that you are blocking another in the party, say someone is behind you, this can be interpreted as rude or thoughtless. So be sure to turn so that everyone is included in the conversation or angle of view, or turn gently, at ease and slowly, while talking, so that everyone is incorporated, recognized and involved in the conversation. Again some suggest the clockwise movement when working a group.

Arms Folded / Legs Crossed– This can be seen as defensive or an end to the conversation. So have arms hang freely or hold a glass of water, a business card or note taking instruments while communicating with others. Be open with open arms.  Note: If you need to cross legs, cross at your ankles and not your knees. Sitting tightly folded up says that you are closed to communications.

Head Shaking – This is fairly accurate. If people are shaking their heads while you speak, they are in agreement. If they are shaking, “no,” disagreement reigns in their minds.

Space / Distance – On the whole, people like their own personal body space. Give people room and keep out of their space. Entering to close can be intrusive and viewed as aggressive.

Leaning – Sitting or standing, leaning is viewed as interest. In other words, an interested listener leans toward the speaker.

Note others’ body language – While you are with others, note how their bodies read. If a person suddenly folds his arms across his chest and begins shaking his head “no,” you’ve probably lost him. Might try taking a step back and picking up where the conversation began this turn for the negative and regroup. It’s all about strategic planning!

DEVELOPING RAPPORT

Now let’s take a quick peak at the basics of developing rapport with others.

In a nutshell, what it takes is to ask questions, have a positive, open attitude, encourage an open exchange of communications (both verbal and unspoken), listen to verbal and unspoken communications and share positive feedback.

Here are a few details on each step.

Ask Questions – Building report is similar to interviewing someone for a job opening or it can be like a reporter seeking information for an article. Relax and get to know the other person with a goal of finding common ground or things of interest.

You can begin by simply commenting on the other person’s choice of attire, if in person, or about their computer, if online, and following up with related questions.

For example, in person, you could compliment the other person on their color choice and or maybe a pin, ring or other piece of jewelry and ask where it came from.

In online communications, you could compliment the other person’s font, smile faces or whatever they use, mention that the communication style seems relaxed and ask if he or she writes a lot.

Then basically follow up, steering clear of topics that could entice or cause arguing, while gradually leading the person to common ground you’d like to discuss.

Attitude – have a positive attitude and leave social labels at home (or in a drawer, if you’re at home).

Many people can tell instantly if you have a negative attitude or if you feel superior. So treat other people as you would like to be treated. And give each person a chance.

Open Exchange – Do encourage others to share with you. Some people are shy, scared or inexperienced in communicating and welcome an opportunity to share.

So both with body language and verbal communication invite an exchange. Face the other person with your arms open, eyes looking into theirs gently (not glaring or staring), and encourage a conversation with a warm smile.

Listen – Be an active listener. Don’t focus your thoughts on what YOU will say next.

Listen to what the other person is saying and take your clues from there, while also noting the body language.

For example, if the other person folds his arms and sounds upset, you may need to change the subject or let him have some space and distance; maybe even try approaching him later on and excusing yourself to go make a phone call (of head to the buffet table or somewhere to escape).

On the other hand, if the other person is leaning towards you, following your every word and communicating with your as if you were old friends,

BINGO. You’ve built rapport!!!

Share – People like compliments. So hand them out freely without over doing it.

Leaving a nice part of yourself like a compliment is a good memory for the other person to recall – -numerous times. That’s good rapport. But do be sincere! False compliments aren’t easily disguised.

FUNDAMENTALS OF FINESSE

Basically using finesse in handling relationships means use subtle skill, tact or diplomacy when handling a situation.

This doesn’t mean you need to use fancy, flowery phrases or lengthy 10-letter words or anything. It means focusing on the positive in a friendly way, and not embarrassing the other person.

For instance, finesse means not telling a host that he or she has body odor or that his or her house is looks and smells like a trash dump.

Instead, it means politely excusing yourself upon entering, and informing the host of an unplanned meeting that came up or family member who dropped by unexpectedly, and that you wanted to drop by for a quick “Hello” to thank the host for the invitation before rushing off to your appointment.

Keep things simple here, smile and think, “James Bond” with that English gentleman concept.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

How do you handle conflicts? If you can put your ego aside pretty much and try to keep friction to a minimum, your relationships should move along fairly smoothly. Where you feel disagreement, if you can “agree” to disagree on certain things with the other party involved, that will help, too. In short, conflict resolution means to pretty much deal with others as you would want them to deal with you.

For example, let’s look at fictitious John and Mary, out on their first date at a restaurant.

A drunk man passes by their table and accidentally spills Mary’s glass of water. John gets upset and says something along the lines of, “That makes me mad! I hate drunks. They should all be put in jail.”

Mary, on the other hand, who has an alcoholic father (unknown as this point to John), may feel embarrassed and saddened by John’s revelation and get quiet, giving only brief “yes” or “no” answers from that point on.

Hopefully, John picks up on this. He can use finesse and conflict resolution and say, “Mary, I’m sorry for my outburst and really didn’t mean that. Actually, a drunk driver caused an accident that I read about recently, and I’d really like to learn about alcoholism and understand it more.”

A statement like this could help ease the conversation into a more productive stage. Then instead of having an argument about social versus addictive drinking and possibly ending or breaking up the relationship because of conflict, the relationship between two people could actually develop a little farther along or deepen. And John and Mary could both learn more about each other and broaden their perspectives in the process.

SUPPORT CO-OP

Relationships may begin with just two people, but more people eventually become involved. Work friends and associates, family members, old school chums and various other assorted persons interact daily, so gaining the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal is a plus in relationship building.

To put this into perspective, we can look at John and Mary again. If John gets along fine with Mary, but can’t be in a room for 10 minutes with her dad or the rest of her family and friends, the relationship will probably eventually bottom out; i.e. not grow.

However, if John can help build some type of relationship with them as Mary does, like joining and participating in a holiday meal celebration, that is a plus and can help build and grow a more solid relationship.

In summary, by learning to use more of these “nuts and bolts” of relationship building, focusing on some of these basic techniques can help build and grow relationships.

More can be learned about each technique by simply heading to the local library or typing in the technique into your favorite search engine.

Forget that, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” saying. We’re not dogs. And humans CAN learn – at any age!

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