Relationship Lesson from the State Department


Human relations… a complicated dance, aren’t they?

Especially the relationship you share with your partner.  There are times you probably want to wring your partner’s neck… and let’s admit it, they may be tempted at times to do the same to you.

One challenge we have in our relationships is how comfortable we are with our partner… and that can lead to trouble.

In this blog, I’ll explain why, and a lesson we could all learn from the Department of State. Please keep reading…

Relationship Tips… from the Secretary of State?

So, you may wonder what the connection is with the Department of State, and why anyone would take relationship advice from them.

Well, they manage relationships—around the world—and they do it while being considerate of language, cultural and other differences.

It’s called diplomacy.

And… it’s not just for diplomats. We could all learn a few tricks from those pros on how to handle our personal relationships better.

Maybe you’ve heard a couple bickering before. Either it was at the holiday dinner table, or a group of friends out to dinner, or just a double-date. The way they talked to each other you found horrifying, embarrassing, and couldn’t imagine how they wouldn’t be broken up by morning.

This is typical of a couple who has fallen into a very bad habit: they are very comfortable with each other… and they have allowed the way they address each other to become very sloppy. They talk to each other in a way they would never talk to a stranger, or a neighbor or acquaintance.

In other words, the person that they are supposed to love and cherish and feel intimate with is treated worse than anyone they come into contact with from day to day.

It’s a matter of practicing some degree of diplomacy, and diplomacy involves certain characteristics.

But before we get to that, I want you to think about something: could you imagine the Secretary of State going to meet with foreign dignitaries and calling them names, talking to them condescendingly and executing around-the-world eye rolls. It would be a bit of an embarrassment to know this person is representing your country, wouldn’t it.

So here are 3 characteristics of diplomats that you can incorporate today so you can best represent yourself:

Characteristic #1: Respectful Words

One of the best ways to test whether or not your words are respectful is to stop and think: would I say this to a stranger? The postal worker? The cashier at the bank?

If we are selecting respectful words while we’re out in public, there’s no reason that we can do the same in private. Respectful words are a choice.

Characteristic #2: Nonverbal Communication Check

Think of the epic eye roll… it’s a form of dismissal of another person’s thought or idea or opinion. And, it’s not respectful to do this to anyone, let alone your partner.

There are other nonverbal cues to be aware of, such as body posture, tone of voice and hand gestures (and not just the universally recognized ones) to be consciously aware of when you’re speaking with your partner. You can convey a lot by never saying a word, so make sure it’s the message you want to send.

Characteristic #3: Agree to Disagree

If any of us think we’ll always see eye to eye with our partner on everything… we’re deluding ourselves. You’re bound to disagree from time to time. It keeps things more interesting, is what you can tell yourself.

And, you can tell your partner at some point if you feel the conversation is getting out of hand, let’s agree to disagree. It’s respectful when a couple can allow each individual to retain their own opinions… and not feel less loved in the process.

My best to you in implementing a diplomatic policy in your relationship.

How is the diplomacy in your relationship?

Do you and your partner talk to each other in a way that would make the Secretary of State proud, or make them blush?

Do you and your partner treat each other better than you would a stranger, or have you gotten a bit too comfortable with each other?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.