Five Realizations of Good Relationships
Bill Cottringer

“Life is not happening to you. It is responding to you.” ~Author Unknown.

In order to create good relationships, correct bad ones or continue good ones, there are a five things, that when realized, can help set up more successful outcomes. The best relationship advice is to identify the critical success principles that are already known about good relationships and then remember to practice these principles to either start a new relationship right, correct one gone bad, or sustain a good one through the inevitable tough times that are on the horizon.
1. Trust. The quality of any relationship is driven by the degree of trust the people have in each other and the relationship itself. Love and commitment are other words for trust—loving to be committed to doing whatever to takes to grow the relationship into a good one that can enjoy the good times and weather the inevitable challenges and conflicts that are sure to come. The only way to get here is to focus on building your own trustworthiness for the other person to experience and then return to you, following the banking rule of life—you have to make a deposit before taking a withdrawal.

One good way to recognize your trust giving obligation is to think about the enormous trust that life has already given you with your life and the free will to choose how to live it. You can choose to respect it by living a good life of helping and loving others, or not. You can chose either path, but the consequences have already been pre-arranged. When you appreciate the trust, love and respect you have already been given in a relationship opportunity and choose to return it, you get what you want and enjoy success; when you don’t, you get everything else.

2. Expectations. Life is governed by one primary rule and that is the tit for tat exchange—getting something and then giving something back in return. This rule was here long before we appeared and there is no adding, subtracting or changing it. However, we futilely try to do just this in two ways: (a) rearranging the sequence in trying to take before giving, and (b) trying to put our personal spin on the exchange with private interpretations and anticipating or expecting certain exchanges and outcomes.

Any way we try to mess with this basic rule, we get disappointed, frustrated and even angry and end up in the relationship failure zone. That is mainly because of pre-arranged rules: (a) the unbreakable bank of life rule requires a deposit before a withdrawal (b) experiences are not meant to be cut in half by judging some as good and some as bad, and if these are not a good enough reasons to suspend such meaningless expectations and judgments, then (c) our internal memory thermometer is not at all the reliably objective score keeper we imagine it to be. Not dealing with reality the way it really is, is never a good idea.

3. Conflicts. All realizations about the origin of life see the inevitability that it was originally born out of a primordial conflict between nothingness and something. Conflicts within a person, between people and with life itself are an inseparable, unavoidable part of living. If you haven’t seen the movie “Interstellar,” then do so for the eye candy alone. But here, we have all three major conflicts happening at the same time with a common thread running through all three which is really the ultimate conflict. The ending will literally blow your mind.

Wanting to run from these emotionally painful conflicts or otherwise trying to avoid them, although a very natural response, is really not an option. Conflicts are life’s way of challenging us to continue learning, growing and improving into our best selves, when we get too comfortable in taking a break from the pains of this challenging growing and improving. Unresolved conflicts won’t just disappear and usually reappear with more urgency, difficulty and vengeance the second time around.

4. Hope. Without hope of being able to thrive past conflict challenges for better outcomes, we get lost in the vicious circle of the nowhere zone of mediocre relationships. Having hope is the only way to success in anything, and especially so in developing, correcting and keeping good relationships at home, work and play. Having the essential degree of hope is tied to trust and expectations in driving our main purpose— learning, growing and improving into our best selves.

To achieve this goal, we have to choose to trust life to eventually take us to a better place despite the discomfort and pain of the failures along the way. And the only way to develop that kind of hope, is to stop expecting certain outcomes, not keeping score in judging the outcome we get in our tit for tat exchanges, and simply enjoying the good surprises and recovering from the bad ones. When we finally notice that we have failed to notice these connections all along, they begin to dissolve and help us rejoin the two halves of experience into the whole one we have foolishly separated.

5. Communication. We spend a great deal of time thinking and feeling about these other four things on a subconscious level, but spend even more time trying to communicate them to others in our relationships. But a very important realization to have about the actual clarity, impact and understanding of our communication is that it is much less effective than we image. And it won’t get any better, without a lot of hard work, especially during a conflict.
Communication during a conflict has to be assertive and cooperative in the giving and getting balance, where both are getting more than they are giving in the way of what is most important to them each, so the relationship grows forward and not backwards. When the right attitude towards trust, expectations, conflicts and hope are in play though, communication can’t help but be at its best.

If you want good relationships with others, remember these five things, think about how you may have let go of their importance, and then look for opportunities to re-practice them to get where you really want to be in your relationships. That is the only sensible choice before you.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or