Image: “goodbye”, by Flickr user woodleywonderworks
If you missed part I of this post, you can find it here.
Negative relationships are destructive, and if you aren’t paying attention, you will take that negativity on. So, how do you handle a negative relationship when you find yourself in one? Well, it depends on the type of relationship and the outcome you’re looking for.
I highly recommend counseling, and think it’s especially helpful when it comes to working out issues in a marriage or long-term committed relationship. I’ve been in all kinds of therapy, and whether I went alone or with my main squeeze (<–yeah, I just said that), I found the process to be incredibly freeing, empowering and healing.
Finding a great therapist is like finding any other great service provider – don’t stop until you find the right one. If you need a referral, start by asking trusted friends or family, call your insurance company if you’re insured, and definitely do a Google search (and be sure to check reviews!). If you don’t like the first one, try another one. If you don’t have insurance coverage look around for therapists or community resources for counseling based on a sliding scale (this means they charge you what you can afford to pay for services).
If you truly want to learn about your negative patterns and how you and your romantic partner keep perpetuating that shit, working with an experienced therapist can be very productive. Even if you ultimately decide not to stay together, therapy can help you both move on in a respectful and positive way.
When it comes to friendships, try having a face to face conversation over coffee or lunch. If you can’t do that, try Skype or at least talk it out by phone. Fighting with people over email is the least productive thing you will ever do. You will be misunderstood. Your words will be interpreted in the most hostile way, and you will likely misinterpret what the other person has to say, too.
Try not to blame your friend when you have the Big Conversation, but let her know that you are feeling some negativity from her and ask if your observations resonate. Does she need to talk? Is she depressed? What’s her perspective on the situation? Starting the conversation with empathy will hopefully help her to get to the root cause of her negativity. But if things go south and you start to argue, or she doesn’t see what you’re seeing, it may be time to take a break from the relationship.
I had a BFF for years and years, but we got to a point in life where we’d grown apart. Our lifestyles were very different. Our values had changed. And while I loved this person to death and we had a ton of history, I felt that he didn’t really understand my choices or what I was going through, and I felt that he was quietly resentful of the success I was experiencing in my personal and professional life. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way in the relationship that fighting doesn’t solve the issue. Our email communications went from unproductive to hurtful to shitty, and we torched the “friendship bridge”. Burned. It. To. The. Ground. Over the years though, we stayed in touch and I realized that the break was ultimately a good thing. While our friendship may never be as close, we were able to grow into our own people, and we’ve started to get to know each other again.
colleagues / business partners
I have had so many business relationships; some were great, some were horrible, some were great and then turned horrible… I am a believer in becoming friends with clients and business partners. And while friendship in business opens you up to amazing collaboration, it also opens you up to feeling incredibly hurt if things don’t work out. People get weird when it comes to money.
I once had a terrific business partnership with a person I considered to be a very close friend. Over time, though, it became obvious that we wanted different things. We didn’t have explicit enough conversations about what we both expected from the partnership and how we envisioned the relationship working. We also, unfortunately, never talked about what dissolution of the partnership would look like if things didn’t work out. As time went on, the gap in our expectations grew, and so did the tension. It was extremely difficult to exit the relationship gracefully and it ruined the friendship.
These things happen with clients, too – I worked with a leadership team closely over several years and really came to love the people there. I was very committed to them, and while I’m sure their affection for me was sincere, things went sideways at the end of the relationship. They got nasty. They said it was about a whole bunch of stuff. I think it’s because we outgrew each other and I wasn’t working for them anymore. It was hard for me to see things end so badly, but at the end I decided it was best to stop engaging and give it a rest.
When it comes to any kind of business relationship, put your agreement in writing. Again, opt for an in-person meeting if you can. Set expectations up front and bring in a mediator if necessary. And, know that despite your very best efforts, money will trump friendship for some people.
Sadly, sometimes there is no easy fix for a relationship gone wrong. It’s difficult to honor a relationship when you’re feeling hurt by the other person. But if I offer any advice that sticks with you, here’s my parting shot:
No matter how hurt or upset you are, don’t sink to being hateful or negative. Watch what you say and remain respectful. Think about what you say and if you’re mom would be proud of your words. Ultimately, you should try to be solid in who you are, regardless of what anyone says or thinks of you. Dr Wayne Dyer said it perfectly, “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”
Chubby flying babies. Arrows. Hearts. Chocolates, candy and flowers can only mean one thing – it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And while everyone is working the romance angle, I want to talk to you about your relationships.
But not just your romantic relationships though – I’m talking about your friendships and partnerships, personal and professional, and what they add, or take away from your life.
We’ve been talking a lot about purpose and energy here at red balloon lately, and interestingly, relationships affect both your purpose and your energy. I’m so fortunate to have a small but powerful group of close, solid friends in my life who are always there. They are the people I have an even exchange of energy with, and I feel happy and excited about life when I’ve been with them.
But over the years I’ve had to let go of life-long friends, and people I once placed on a pedestal because they no longer upheld my purpose or contributed positive energy. It is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do in life, but sometimes it’s best for both people to release one another. These are the signs I’ve observed and begun to look for when determining who I need space from and who is helping me to move closer to my purpose, my happiness and my truth at home and at work:
A negative colleague / friend / romantic partner…
+ may have a low self-esteem, or belittles others to feel good about themselves (see narcissistic personality disorder)
+ attempts to manipulate you or the situation by making you second guess yourself
+ feels challenged by life
+ seems to be surrounded by drama
+ believes The Universe is out to get them
+ makes you feel exhausted
+ thinks that getting ahead is impossible
+ gives up easily
+ doesn’t always follow through on commitments to you or others
+ feels threatened or makes you feel guilty or undeserving when something good happens for you
+ attacks or blames you when they have a disagreement with you
+ refuses to see where they are accountable
+ runs hot and cold
+ feels distant or disconnected much of the time
A positive colleague / friend / romantic partner…
+ values themselves and the people around them
+ respects your opinions or thoughts, even if they don’t agree
+ is open to possibility
+ has a sense of peace
+ believes The Universe is conspiring for them
+ makes you feel excited and energized
+ feels that they are making progress
+ is persistent
+ consistently makes good on their commitments to you or others
+ celebrates with you when good things happen for you
+ desires genuine understanding and resolution when they have a disagreement with you
+ tries to see how they are accountable in creating a situation
+ loves you or cares about you unconditionally
+ is engaged and attentive
Negativity is a destructive force, and if you aren’t paying attention, you will take that negativity on. So, how do you handle a negative relationship when you find yourself in one? Check back for part 2 of this post tomorrow and I’ll share some of my own experiences and advice for dealing with negative relationships.
Leave us a comment and share your thoughts and advice – have you ever found yourself in a negative relationship? Did you resolve it or break it off? What did you learn?
My health has been on my mind a lot lately. I wish I was making different choices. I wish I was getting outside more, and that I could be more active with my family. I wish I was eating differently.
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am overweight. Even when I’m feeling well, I lay in bed at night before I go to sleep and self-loathe, feeling unhappy in my own skin. Not because I don’t have a husband who adores me, not because someone has hurt my feelings, not because I don’t have a closet full of beautiful clothes and shoes… but because I cannot accept me as I am right now.
But in that moment before a bad choice, each time I eat, every day, I am compromising. I am either in a rush and about to gnaw my arm off if I don’t mainline the first edible thing I come across (so I eat drive-through garbage because it’s accessible) or I just crave something hot and cheesy to take the edge off. It’s my Calgon. Jack In The Box take me away.
I know my lifestyle isn’t healthy, not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional and spiritual senses, too. The reminders are everywhere – I enjoyed looking at the photos from our boys’ birthday party over the weekend. Everyone looked great, really happy, but there was one particular photo of me…
And I didn’t like looking at me. And I realized I haven’t been feeling like me. And I don’t want to do this anymore, I want help with change. No more of the self-judgment. The frustration, the unhappiness, the feeling of failure a hundred times over. The thought that I may die early because heart disease runs in my family and I fill my body with processed, contaminated, preserved stuff. Bodies aren’t designed to eat stuff.
I don’t want to keep justifying to myself why I look the way I do, why my inner beauty and outer beauty don’t match.
I have been successful at leading a healthier lifestyle at times – I felt my best (which coincided with my lowest adult weight) just after having my first son. We’d gotten into healthier habits with the baby at home, and taking him for walks in my mission to lose “the-baby-weight-plus-some”.
But in 2009, things kept falling apart, a chain of events beyond my control… That year, we found out that our two year old son had a brain tumor. I miscarried, and at the end of that year I was finally correctly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, after six months of debilitating chronic pain. Since then, I lost my sister and stepmom, both to addiction, and we have been supporting my devastated dad.
I’ve got it fairly together (all things considered), but I’m still processing little pieces of these traumas every day. So much loss that just sits there in the background.
As I stop long enough to write this post though, the tears come. The tears that I’m too busy to allow during car line, packing lunches, finding lost shoes, fighting over homework, fighting with my husband, soul searching, meeting deadlines, paying bills, supporting girlfriends, planning for the future, loving my kids, loving my husband…
And the reality hits hard that there are still a lot of emotions I’m stuffing by eating. And too many excuses that I tell myself “are reasons” that I don’t take better care of myself. Only jamming self-love into the little cracks, the little airtight spaces between Everything Else.
There are too many commitments that lead up to me sitting in my dark living room at 12am, lit only by the TV and my email inbox, too late to take a walk, go to the gym, or move my stagnating body. When there isn’t enough time or energy in the day, I am the thing that gives before it breaks.
In some ways, I think I’ve just stopped trying. I don’t know what works for me anymore. I don’t know what will make me feel better about myself physically. I don’t know if it’s even about losing weight to be completely honest, it is just the most obvious, constant, nagging reminder of what I’m doing to myself on the outside for the world to see.
It’s not enough for me to be spiritually connected on the inside, to be open to my intuition, only to shut down the messages about my health because I feel helpless, confused and overwhelmed. I have to make a lasting change, not a change that makes me feel deprived or overly regimented, but a change that feels like a better alternative to what I’m doing now, a change I can live with. I want to live a long time, I want to be there for kids to grow up and I want to see their kids, I want to live long enough to really make an impact on the people around me. And I don’t want to do it in a failing body.
My first step to creating lasting change is to understand that the self-loathing only holds me back. My self esteem takes a hit and then I want stay in bed or destroy a Jumbo Jack… I have to start loving myself unconditionally. I love other people unconditionally. I require them to love me unconditionally… and yet, here I am, not holding myself to this standard, the one behavior that can actually transform this issue, to just love myself no matter what. I haven’t mastered this, but I’ve zeroed in on this being at the heart of the problem.
My next step was partnering with my friend Angel Denton of VIO (Vitality Inside and Out), Certified Nutritional Consultant and Yoga instructor (actually, the amount of training and number of certifications she holds is nuts, check it out here). She is as warm and not-judgmental an expert as you’re going to find, and she is going to help you and me get on track.
She and I are presenting a free live demo on Feb 13th, SNAP Into Vitality (SNAP stands for simple, nutritious, affordable and plant-based). Angel is going to show us 3 of her favorite dishes made from just one recipe, and get us started not just in losing weight (one of my personal goals), but in starting more healthy eating routines in general, like learning how to eat for vitality, for energy and to give our bodies the support and fuel they need to live a long, healthy time.
Afterward, we’re kicking off a 30 day challenge that will be extremely affordable and accessible, full of coaching and amazing value – Angel will continue to educate us on how to incorporate her manageable techniques and recipes into a crazy busy lifestyle so that we don’t even miss eating the old way, and I will tackle how our emotions, traumas and beliefs translate into an unhealthy lifestyle and how to start resolving those issues. The challenge will include a private online support group, video tours at our local grocery store and farmers market to make shopping less intimidating, a peak into our pantries (mine is very different from Angel’s as you can imagine…), recipes, demos and so much more.
I need support and to be honest. I need guidance and I need a community of people who can relate to my challenges. If this sounds like you, too, please join us for the one hour live demo on February 13th, if you can’t, register anyway and we’ll send you the video afterward. Best of all, when you register, you’ll receive a coupon code for the 30 day challenge, to make it even more affordable. If you need this, like I do, we want you to be there.
Can you relate? Share your advice with me – Where are you struggling to create healthier habits? What holds you back and where are you falling short?
In this video, I share 3 simple steps for setting and manifesting goals – whether it’s financial goals, physical goals, relationship goals or career goals, you’ll get there by creating the vision, dreaming big and setting a deadline. Watch now!
Speaking of manifesting your goals, we have 2 great programs available right now to help make your goals reality – Authentic is Effective for anyone looking to harness the power of social media for their businesses, and SNAP Into Vitality, a program that will teach you simple, nutritious, affordable, plant-based recipes, and easy techniques and lifestle changes! Hope to see you at one or both
This month we’re talking about how valuable it is to just be yourself. Sounds cliché, but it’s Super Duper True (<— you can tell because it’s capitalized), and it’s just as true in your professional life as it is at home.
Just be you. It feels amazing, and people are naturally attracted to realness. Somehow (in business especially) we overcomplicate this, we compare ourselves to our competitors, and we often confuse marketing with overblown bravado or offers and information that our customers don’t really care about.
The people who receive your communications, whether through email, social media or other channels, are bombarded with BS every single day and they don’t want more false promises or useless noise. When you’re honest and connected to your audience, people will want to be with you and work with you, and you’ll experience more success, synchronicity and fulfillment.
So how do you get better at communicating authentically? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before communicating with customers:
1. Do I really understand this person?
You may not be a member of the audience that you’re communicating with (for example, you’re a 50 year old married woman marketing shaving supplies to 20 year old single men), but it should be clear that you understand who the customer is and what problems you are solving for them. You want to them to feel like you’re one of them, and that you “get it.”
Before you go posting special offers to sell your overstock, think about your audience as one specific person, the person most likely to buy from you, and speak like you’re talking to just him or her. What offer would he or she find to be truly of value? What problem are you solving for them?
We recently worked with an international toy manufacturer. Many of the people on staff are not the demographic of the people who buy from this company. It was important before every communication to stop and think about this buyer, in this case a savvy, socially connected mom between 25 and 45, most likely using her phone or tablet. We had to think about her problems, needs, motivations and methods for buying before each piece of content was posted. This included “lifestyle content” that had nothing to do with toys, and had everything to do with making a powerful and genuine connection – time-savers, natural home remedies, diy projects, you get the idea. In doing so, we built a relationship that kept the customer highly engaged because we understood her.
2. Am I selling?
Stop selling. Yes, I said, STOP SELLING. It’s such a huge mistake to post discounts and coupons, or utilize upselling offers in every communication to prospects and customers. It’s selfish and one-sided.
Get out of this habit, and start thinking about how you can help to inform and entertain your audience. People are smart, if you’re connected to them and their needs, they will buy from you.
What can you give them? What solutions can you share for their unique issues? What information can you share that has nothing to do with your products or services, and is offered only to build good will? Post that.
3. Am I in a rush?
Don’t communicate in a rush – at best you may include a typo, at worst you may say something in a way that you didn’t really mean and piss people off. In either case you’ve still wasted precious time, and you may lose customers in the process.
We once had a customer work with us after an employee (under deadline) sent out an email to customers about a sensitive topic, but the communication didn’t seem very sensitive, and overall wasn’t cohesive with the company’s voice or brand. Some customers were ticked off. One reader contacted the company to make sure the company’s email wasn’t hacked. Embarrassing.
Schedule the time to get it done right, use an editorial calendar and plan at least 6 months in advance. There are many reasons that you should do this, but the main reason is that planning your topics and communications in advance will give you the best return on the time and money you’re investing.
4. Does this contribute to my objective?
How does this content contribute to your top 3 marketing objectives as a company? If you can’t answer this you shouldn’t be posting it.
Every single post should strive to engage your customer and build a deeper relationship, whether it’s educating them, entertaining them or solving their problems. If you aren’t hitting on these topics, leave it out, it’s that simple.
5. Am I connected?
If you’re not familiar with the term “connected” in this sense, it means you are clear on who you are and what you are doing. You feel present, mindful, and communicating with care and intention.
Everyone has an off day – the important thing is to be aware of when you’re having an off day and take action. For some it’s meditating (or just being alone in a quiet room to look inward), for others it may involve listening to music, sitting outside for a little while, or physical activity like taking a walk.
It doesn’t have to be time consuming, it may only take a couple minutes to get back into that connected place – that place effective, authentic communication comes from. But if you have a day that you just aren’t feeling it and you can put it off a day, put it off a day.
These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before communicating and genuinely connecting with customers – what’s on your checklist before sending out an email or posting to your social media platforms?
Want more? Check out our upcoming 4 week program, Authentic is Effective, beginning in February! For less than $10 per weekly lesson I’ll show you how to zero in on your company’s purpose, develop an authentic content strategy that resonates with your audience, how to use an editorial calendar to create a cohesive digital marketing plan and how to effectively manage social media posts in just a few hours per month! Registrations are limited, to preserve the quality of the program, sign up now!