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My husband and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary last week. Someone commented on my anniversary post that “How you do anything is how you do everything,” and said I was an inspiration. In fact, a few more people also said the same thing.

Interestingly, I never thought of myself as inspirational, but maybe I am.

Then again, being with a person for 27 years and still very much enjoying their company is a fairy tale to many people. Last year we went on vacation for six weeks, and I realized that after all these years, we are still compatible!

The things that I learned to be the key to the success of our long-term relationship are also fundamental principles you can take to strengthen your personal and business relationships.

Here are some tips I will share with you that are related to communication:

1. It’s a matter of perspective

My husband and I don’t argue – we disagree, and sometimes we don’t see eye to eye (except when it comes to reading a map!).  So, what is an argument? A disagreement at a higher intensity. I always preferred to call it a disagreement. If you see it as a disagreement, then it’s not as big of a deal as if it was an argument.

2. Am I right or wrong?

There is no right or wrong. It is just a difference of opinion. Just because I don’t like thin crust pizza doesn’t mean it’s a bad pizza.  It is just my preference. We are all entitled to our opinion, and everyone should respect it. It’s the diversity in a team environment that makes the team stronger.

When it comes to workflows or how things get done, I always tell people that there is no right or wrong way to do something. I say that some processes are just more efficient than others!

3. Open communication

If something is bothering you, say it!  If you keep it bottled up inside, it will just worsen, and you will resent the person. This is not a good way to have a relationship – whether it’s personal or business.

If you disagree with someone’s business decision, you should say so and justify your response. Since there are so many different ways to see a situation, sometimes things can get missed. We make better decisions when we have all the facts and can analyze them in different ways. We are not perfect.

4. Everyone thinks differently

There was an interesting experiment when my husband and I were in university.  We did a math problem, and we both got the same answer but solved it in two very different ways – remember there is no right or wrong way as we both got the same answer! That’s when I realized that the human brain could process the same thing differently.

If we understand this point, we can be more patient when we are around someone who processes things differently.  Some people are visual learners, and some can learn from a textbook – just different.

When someone gives me a strange look because my brain is processing things significantly differently than theirs, I tell them it’s “Nicki” logic.  We laugh about it, and then we figure out how to make it work.

5. Put yourself in their shoes

Sometimes we need to remember to step back and see things from the other person’s perspective.  There might be something behind the scenes that you don’t know about.  I tend to always give people the benefit of the doubt until they continuously fail me.  I always believe that people have good intentions.

Relationships and communication are critical to our existence, whether it’s in life or business.  If we all treat everyone with respect, we will live in a better world and be more successful.  We cannot do everything alone.

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