Tag Archives: communication skills

FOR COUPLES: Three Ways to Turn an Argument Into a Love Fest

temperREX_468x559Let’s face it, conflict is the worst part of committed love. But the road to security is paved with ruptures followed by repairs. It is in the repair process where we see each other’s tender spots, seek forgiveness, remind our partner they are loved, and sometimes even have great make up sex. Ruptures can be the building blocks of deep love. But some arguments are more than ruptures along the road to intimacy. They are fights that can cause major relationship damage and sting for years. Here’s how to avoid world-war-we and have a growth enhancing conflict:

1. Begin every complaint with a compliment. Remind your love why you are in the relationship and plan to stay before you issue a criticism. “Honey, one of the things I love about you is that you always remember all the holidays. It’s fun to celebrate with you. But we need to watch our budget this year.”

2. Be specific about your feelings and how you are hoping your partner can make a small change. “When you do (a behavior) it makes me feel like (ignored, sad, nervous, frustrated etc.) It would help me if you were able to do (new behavior.)”

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3. Never attack, name call or generalize your partner’s bad behaviors. A damaging argument might include words like, “You always do…” or “You’re a cheap jerk” or “Why can’t you be a better?” Limit your complaints to one specific thing and if, during the course of the argument, emotions cause a flood onto other issues, suggest that that the new complaints get tabled for another time.

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FOR SINGLES: Four Things To Say on a First Date

black-couple-on-a-dateIt’s hard enough to find a date, but let’s face it, first dates themselves can be tough. With two relative strangers attempting to play the person they wish they were, first dates can be artificial too. While some people believe the game is won by stringing a person along with a set of fantasy projections, only to reveal the truth after they’re too attached to bolt, I’m a pragmatist. I believe that stone cold honesty is the way to win someone’s heart. Communication skills can begin on the first date. But being honest doesn’t mean hurting yourself by spewing your tender entrails without any boundaries. It means knowing what to say and how to say it. Here are three phrases that should definitely be brought to the table on a first date.


1. The thing I’m most proud of is….

Strutting your stuff in an honest display of self-pride is a great way to market yourself to a prospective date. Clearly your date has already sized up the physical package, so it’s up to you to show your interior worth. Feeling proud of an accomplishment that is dear to your heart is a great way to begin to show your value system. Of course, it’s not a good idea to sound like a bragger or to compete with your date. But healthy self-pride is sexy. It’s all in the delivery.


2. Tell me about yourself….

This may sound like an awkward “job interview” style question, but I’m always amazed when I hear that two people spent an entire evening together and talked about movies, restaurants, gyms, celebrities, fashion and food — and never talked about themselves. The topic that everyone knows best is themselves and it can really take the nervous edge off an evening to become a curious journalist and ask plenty of questions about your date.


3. My relationship goal is…

The biggest problem with today’s dating market is that you have players and non-players in the same pool who have very different expectations about what a love life should look like.  Every year millions of dollars are plunked down on dating tables where two people are looking for two different things. These days, you can’t assume that she’s looking for a boyfriend just because she accepted a date. And you can’t assume he wants to someday get married just because all his brothers are married. I’m a big believer in showing your hand. This saves on misunderstandings, hurt feelings, broken hearts, and plenty of wasted money as one date become ten and only then does she reveal that she has no intention of ever getting married or having kids.


4. Someday, I hope to get to know you well enough to answer that question fully. That’s a perfectly honest, complimentary response to any prickly question that crops up in conversation. A first date is too early to become totally vulnerable with a stranger, but this sentence suggests that you a) like the person, b) have boundaries and c) are willing to disclose sensitive information in the future.

FOR COUPLES: Kissing More Important Than Sex

kissYou have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince (or princess) and now science shows us why. All primates practice some form of kissing but only humans kiss with such passion and frequency. So researchers at Oxford University set out to find out why kissing is such an important human behavior, which proved to be strong relationship advice.

They discovered that kissing is more important to women than men and that people who prefer short-term relationships prefer kissing before sex, though not necessarily during or after sex.

Since women tend to be more selective when choosing someone to mate with, because the burden of reproduction and breastfeeding is on them, the research suggests that kissing is also a way for women to discern fitness of a partner. Kissing is like a biological litmus test with a new partner where the woman can unconsciously pick up tastes, smells, and caring behaviors through kissing to help them choose a guy who might be biologically and psychologically a good partner.

Finally, the research, published in both Archives of Sexual Behavior and Human Nature, also made a positive correlation between frequency of kissing and relationship quality. Interestingly, the same link could not be made with frequency of sex. In my opinion, kissing can go a long way to maintain daily bonds in long term relationships. Frequent sex, on the other hand, can sometimes indicate relationship insecurity in that some couples may have sex to compensate for emotional intimacy or have make up sex after frequent conflicts.

How often do you and your partner kiss?

FOR SINGLES: How Lovers Change Their Voices

contact-1You might notice that when you are in love and in an intimate relationship with someone your voice changes subtly. But did you know that others are able to detect this too? In a new study from Susan Hughes, Ph.D. of Albright College, twenty-four people were asked to telephone a lover and then a platonic same-sex friend and simply ask benign questions about how their day was going.

Then eighty strangers were asked to listen to short clips of the one-sided phone conversations, sometimes as brief as two seconds. Not surprisingly, people newly in love were detected with reliable accuracy. As it turns out, the lovers tended to mimic each other, that is, the men’s voices became higher and the women’s voices got a bit lower. The researchers suspect that mirroring each other conveys the idea of “I am one with you.”

But the other thing the study participants were able to identify was nervousness, lack of confidence, and vulnerability, true markers of early love when relationship stability has not been established yet. It’s the fear of rejection that tends to come out in lover’s voices.

When two people are falling in love, the emotional stakes are high. The fear of rejection as two people become vulnerable with each other is enormous. Adjusting vocal pitch is one way that lovers bond.

The researchers suggest that practical implications of the research might be as a cheater detector. In other words, your partner may ensure that a certain associate is “only a friend” but if your gut tells you something different, it may be because you overheard the subtle change in vocal tone.

FOR WOMEN: The Five Date Boyfriend Test

superstar-magazine-first-date-couple-lunch1In my book, The Boyfriend Test, I put women in the drivers seat on dates and remind them that they are doing the interviewing for the most important job position in the world, the job of best friend and lover. One of the tests in my book is called the “Five Date Consistency Test.” In five date consistency test you are looking to see if this is building into a relationship. Could this be a boyfriend? I mean, you’re only five dates in, this isn’t marriage material yet. You’re starting to see if he has the potential to be that dream man. So ask yourself these questions:

1. Is he making plans?: Is he still making and consistently keeping plans? Only lazy guys make the woman social director on the first two dates. If five dates into it he is still actively making plans, even if he is collaborating with you that is a good sign.

2. Is he Mr. Words or Mr. Action?: Has he followed up on the little promises he has made? Did he fix that car stereo like he said? Has he done it?!

3. Has he displayed anger?: He probably should not have displayed anger yet. He is still a peacock showing his feathers, being the fantasy prince for you. If he cannot hold his anger for five simple dates, this man may have anger management problem. I’m not saying there won’t be anger in the future, but he should be able to contain himself during the sales pitch.

4. Is he playing phone or text tag?: Is he starting to get inconsistent? Women think that’s a sign they should try harder. Pay attention, men don’t speak with words they speak with actions. Is he calling at home when he knows you are at work, or visa versa? Or is he taking longer to call or text back each time? Don’t let it heighten your fight or flight tendencies. Drop it.

5. How does he use email?: Sometimes e-mail can be a way into someone’s soul because it’s really hard for them to express themselves verbally. On the other hand, it can be used as a separation device, if they are calling less and shooting last minute e-mails more, probably not a good sign.

6. Trust your instincts: Women do not trust their intuition enough. We are programmed anthropologically to figure out the needs of a nonverbal human. We have the heightened instincts that make our gut instincts almost always right.