by Tom Marcoux

Rachael stepped of her treadmill when she came to a surprising revelation. She realized that her sinuses were acting, the result of an argument with her boyfriend, Gary. Overall, she was miserable, both emotionally and physically. She needed to find how to breathe better in order to keep her health up, and that meant also finding to improve her relationship with Gary.

Researchers note that our emotional health can have an impact on our physical health.

In order to have better health, seek to improve your approach to your relationships. In this article, we’ll use the L.E.A.D. (Listen, Engage, Ask, Devote) process to help model this. These steps can be used to point your relationship, and overall health, in a positive direction.

  1. Listen

How can you know to trust someone? Do they listen well to you? True listening reveals care and consideration. Listening is “loving”. Listening is more than keeping your mouth closed. It’s used also for asking follow-up questions, like “That sounds frustrating. Then what happened?” or “Would you like for me to make suggestions, or just listen?”

  1. Engage

Set the stage for positive interactions. For example, recently my sweetheart and I played a Japanese card game, called “Hanabi”. In it, the object of the game was to listen well to your partner, watching for body language and listening for tonality. The players cooperate together to raise the points. The game is not necessarily about competition, but about cooperation.
In your relationships, seek to reduce competition.

  1. Ask

Some people may not yet have learned to ask gentle questions, and substantially demonstrate that they really care about the thoughts and feelings of others. For example, my father has inspired me to avoid following in his behaviors, which have caused hurt feelings amongst family members, by him merely telling others what to do.
My father, now nearing 80, comes from a generation of men who did not devote attention to learning how to listen well to people. He does not ask “gentle questions”, which are questions that are ease to answer (and sometimes even fun to answer).

Gentle questions can include asking others such as:

  • “How are things going?”
  • “What are you looking forward to?”
  • “That sounds intense. Would you like to talk about it?”
  1. Devote

I coined the term “Reflective Replies” to represent things we say, to show that we heard the other person’s feelings. We say statements such as, “That sounds like…” to avoid coming across as telling someone how they feel.

Reflective replies sound like this:

  • “That sounds frustrating. Then what happened?”
  • “That sounds disappointing. What did you want to happen after that?”

Be careful to avoid telling someone that they sound angry. Unfortunately, many people take offense because they equate being angry as the same thing as “losing control”. Instead, you can avoid this by saying something to the extent of “That sounds irritating” or “That sounds like it caused a real problem”.

It’s amazing that when you use the methods of Reflective Replies, the people who you direct them to take this as a welcomed invitation to, in fact, reply (which is the purpose of using Reflective Replies).

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In a healthy relationship, partners step in and alternate who leads from time to time. My sweetheart and I not only share our household, but we also work together. There are times when one of us is truly tired, and feels overwhelmed. The other partner, in response, leads.

              When I talk about L.E.A.D., I am referring also to leading yourself. Your first thought may be a negative one. In the case of this, what really helps is to condition yourself to make your next thought a positive one. When you lead yourself, you show yourself a better way. Focusing on L.E.A.D will move you in the direction toward having better relationships with the people around you.

              In the case that your partner upsets you, before you escalate consider this:

  • Is this the time when you might Listen?
  • Do you need to Ask a gentle question?
  • Would things be better if you Devote yourself to responding a Reflective Reply?

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Tom Marcoux is a leading Communications Coach and Spoken-word Strategist, having been featured #1 on Amazon’s list of Hot New Releases in Business Life. Tom is the author of Be Heard and Be Trusted. An avid blogger, Tom can be found at www.beheardandbetrusted.com, making frequent contributions throughout his entries.