THE BLOG
11/02/2015 12:18 GMT | Updated 13/04/2015 06:59 BST

Three Simple Steps to Upgrade Your Relationship!

Qualifying as a Life Coach has improved my life in so many ways. Yes it's wonderful to help others on a daily basis to make significant changes to their lives, but I have also learnt some great lessons that I have been able to successfully apply to my own. Seeing as things are set to get romantic this weekend I thought I'd focus on three simple ways to improve things with your other half...enjoy!

1 There's far more to 'listening' than you think...

So easily overrated an exercise, the art of listening is the key to understanding those around us, it prevents us from making careless and harmful assumptions which create problems and it helps us to become not just a better partner, but also a better parent, friend and colleague.

On an obvious surface level, it doesn't feel great to be pouring our heart out to a loved one who is clearly uninterested in anything we say. If you want to be approachable, if you want to be a good wife/husband etc. then you need to show active listening. This is when you are genuinely focused on the meaning of the words that are coming your way and are actively using your body posture and language to demonstrate exactly that.

Mirroring is a useful technique and is the act of matching someone's body language during a conversation so they feel much more comfortable and therefore subconsciously assume you must be on their wavelength and divulge far more openly as a result of the ease you have put them in.

Deep listening is the most technical form of listening; something we always thought was just about hearing someone. If you are 'hearing the words' but seeing the meaning behind those words then you are truly an intuitive lover who understands that our partner may say things they do not mean in order to convey their true feelings. A deep listener can separate the 'words' from the meaning and not react to those words, but instead react to the place those words came from instead, avoiding so many unnecessary conversations in the process.

This is why communication forms the very basis of a good relationship. If you are impeccable with your word, describing your feelings and intentions truthfully instead of dishonestly then you will simply save a lot of wasted time and effort in the process. Listening well forms the other half of great communication, reacting to the meaning behind the words will again, save you a lot of time and wasted effort and is part of the insight required to not take things personally, an art to be mastered in its own right.

2 Don't be the judge..

Life coaches do not judge or share opinions in assisting our clients, which to many of them is a refreshing first. I've wondered since learning this approach how this could translate in relationships?

Those opinions we could judge people with are only based on our own view of the subject and are constructed from our own life experience and beliefs so does that make it the valid truth? Should it be the way everyone else sees things? Absolutely not! My point of view isn't going to match my girlfriend's and neither should I impress it on her so she 'sees things my way'.

The only way we can truly help someone or indeed our loved one when they need us, is to help them find the answers for themselves.

Oh how we love to judge! Is it not good to give our love some home truths in the form of some advice or most commonly some harsh criticisms? The majority of anything said from one partner to another would go in one ear and out the other, no matter how much sense it makes to you, it's not their perspective therefore 90% of it goes by the wayside.

When we advise/criticise people we are telling them to live by our standards not their own. Even if you are adopting a 'soft approach' the archetypal 'agony aunt' is a fading effort to help others and serves only as a means to offer comfort by providing a direction one can take or leave depending on the relevance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disillusioned. Not judging is really difficult! What do we get from judging though? A feeling of superiority, power, validation, justification, control. It's quite selfish actually isn't it? Well regardless, sadly it goes against everything we've ever learnt.

We have been conditioned to judge from a young age when our parents first started 'domesticating' us by way of their ideals and opinions of how we should behave in order to be a 'good human'. If we stepped outside of their beliefs we would be judged just like we are now in our relationships by our partners and in society generally. Heaven forbid if we ever did anything different, spontaneous and 'outside of the box' that made us feel alive and true to one's self!

So we know why we judge and we know that actually, it might be good if we tried to do this as little as possible. But what do you replace it with when it would just be easier to shout instructions, give an order or sarcastically remark how easy it could be done if they did it your way...

3 Ask the right Questions..

A Life coach is trained in the art of 'open questioning' allowing the person we are engaging with to find the answers for themselves. I'm quite sure that the complete extinction of heated arguments in my household is as a direct result of the fact that I so rarely advise or criticise my girlfriend, or my children for that matter.

Sure she may frustrate me from time to time but instead of saying something inflammatory that would cause embarrassment I know I can replace that with a question that won't belittle her but instead help her come to her own version of the 'right answer', avoiding any judgement in the process. My challenge to you now is to go home and be aware of how many times you judge your partner verbally. Keep a journal for a week if you are really serious about changing this.

Ask yourself why you are transferring your feelings onto them in the form of an opinion and then try to make the step of actually catching that criticism before it leaves your mouth. After that it's a case of replacing those critical, opinionated thoughts with questions that lead to the same result, but in a much more relationship enhancing and love-friendly way!

Of course, this may appear to be presuming you're the one throwing your weight around in the relationship, so if it's your partner that seems to have no problem telling you what they think of you all the time, it may be of use for you to re-read my first entry about hearing the meaning and not the words in order to feel less inclined to take it personally.

Relationships can be cruel and the reason our partners seem to take pleasure in our error and rise from our demise is because they are quite likely to be unhappy with something within themselves, possibly unrelated to you or anything you may have done but being that you are closest to them, it's you that will know first.

How easy it would be if they told you exactly what the problem was, so you could help by asking those open questions in order for them to find the answer but how can they tell you what's up when they may not actually see the reality themselves? Here we complete the perfect circle, listen to the meaning not the words and if you have the intuition to see what they cannot, those questions without judgement will help you lead them to the realisation they need and you won't have fallen out with them in the process.

Good Luck and be lucky in love this Valentine's! If these words make sense but do not help your relationship problems, come to Comecoachwithme.com and register your interest in a coaching session with one of our qualified relationship experts.