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How to grow stronger relationships with better fertilizer

As a child, I remember looking into our neighbor’s yard and thinking their grass seemed so much greener than ours.  When I asked my Mom about that, she told me, “Their grass just seemed greener.  It really wasn’t.”

As an adult, I know better. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

But I also know there’s a reason. The people across the street were using better fertilizer than we were.  (Actually, we weren’t using any.)

And I find the same principle applies to our relationships on and off the job. Some organizations do have better teams.  Some people do have better marriages. And invariably all those people are doing something to nurture their partnerships.  

So what are they doing? And what can you learn from the partnership experts that you can apply to your professional and personal relationships?

1.  Realize that relationships are not static.

Your relationships are either getting better or worse. They don’t just sit there in limbo.

So if you’re not spending time on your relationships, they will deteriorate. Your feelings of love will go from being excited, to exhausted, to expired. Or as one cynic said, if you’re not careful, you’ll go through the three phases of marriage: lust, rust, and dust.

The same is true at work. If you stop building your team, it will start to disintegrate. If you take your customers for granted, they’ll begin to look elsewhere. You’re either investing in your work relationships or you’re not.

The challenge is…

► 2.  Relationships are a lot of work.

That’s why so many relationships fail. Some people just don’t realize how much effort is required. As comedian Rodney Dangerfield said: “We sleep in different rooms. We eat apart. We take separate vacations. We do everything we can to keep our marriage together.”

One of my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary participants Bob Ettinger puts it this way. He says, “Relationships are hard. It’s like a full-time job and we should treat it like one.”

But then he adds: “If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you a two weeks’ notice. There should be severance pay and before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp.”

Of course, Bob is teasing, but you get the point. You should take your relationships as seriously as your job and you should work just as hard at it.

Other relationships fail because people don’t know how to work on their relationships. They don’t know what to do or what would work.

That’s why the entire second day of Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program coming to St. Louis on April 23-24, 2020 is devoted to the six keys that build stronger relationships and greater teamwork.  Even better, when you register in February, you save $500 on your tuition.

Lori Reeser, a Business Analyst from State Farm, found the Journey experience to be mighty helpful.  She wrote, “I wish someone had given me these tools 20 years ago!  I’ve had my share of successes but can only imagine how much higher I could have gone with the information I learned at the two-day Journey program.  Now I’m in the exciting process of applying these techniques and looking forward to the best 20 years of my life.”

And Dr. Kevin Rieck, a Mayo Clinic surgeon, told me, “After considering this course for a few years, I finally took the time to attend.  The information presented captured my attention and has proven to be useful and practical for a lifetime.  I truly see very little, if anything, to improve upon in this incredible program.”

To help you build your relationships, try these “Tuesday Tips.”

► 3.  Acknowledge the awesome significance of relationships.

In other words, remind yourself that nothing is more important than your relationships; not your career, your money, or your possessions. In fact, if you had everything but relationships, you would soon question the value of life itself.

4.  Honor the other person.

Honor is not a word that is used very often and is frequently misunderstood. It simply means to place a high value on the other person, to decide that he or she is very, very valuable.

Dr. John Gottman, at the University of Washington, says, “No relationship skill works without honor.” In fact, through his research, he can now predict with almost 100% accuracy that divorce will occur when spousal honor drops to too low of a level.

You’ve got to honor the people at home and you’ve got to honor the people at work. But remember this: Honor is given to the other person. They don’t have to earn it!

Notice, I did NOT say “respect, agreement, or approval” is given to the other person.  Their values and your values may be in opposition to one another, and you may not be able to “respect, agree, or approve” of everything the other person thinks, says, or does.  That’s life.

But you can always find some way to honor the other person.  You could, for example, compile a list of all the things you admire about the other person. The longer your list, the more powerful your honor will become.


5.  Give to the other person.

Giving is at the heart of every successful relationship and every successful business. When people see you as a giver, they want to work with you.

And give without expectation. If you give expecting something in return, you’re sure to be unhappy. If you say “Good morning” to someone, expecting him to respond in kind and he doesn’t, you’ll get all bummed out. You’ll probably be telling yourself, “I knew I shouldn’t have said ‘Good morning’.”

When you give, just make sure it’s because you want to give, not because you’re expecting something in return.

As one of the foremost psychiatrists of all time, Alfred Adler said, “All human failure can be attributed to man’s inability to grasp that it is better to give than receive.”


6.  Speak words of kindness.

Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” In other words, they keep on giving and they keep on building your relationships.

By contrast, unkind words almost always hurt your relationships because they’re almost impossible to retrieve.

Someone asked a rabbi how he could make amends for falsely accusing a friend, for saying unkind words about the other person. The rabbi told him to put a goose feather on each doorstep in the village.

The next day the rabbi told the man to go and collect all the feathers. “It can’t be done,” cried the man. “The wind blew all night and the feathers have scattered everywhere.”

“Exactly,” said the rabbi, “and so it is with the reckless words you spoke against your neighbor.”  They can’t be taken back.

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 1025– How to grow stronger relationships with better fertilizer