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5 Rules for Extraordinary Relationships

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5 Rules for Extraordinary Relationships
(click for podcast on Soundcloud)

After decades of couples and team coaching, as well as my own personal experience in relationships, all the complexities really boil down to five simple rules. I’m not saying simple is the same as easy, just that these are inherently obvious and straightforward actions, even if they tend to hide under multitudes of narratives and story lines.

1. Over-Communicate vs. Under-Communicate.
I’ve addressed the dangers of assumptions and projections and explicit vs. implicit communication countless times. Under communicating is usually based in even more assumptions about causing conflict or making trouble. This won’t be a problem if the remaining four rules are followed. When in doubt, straighten things out. Nobody “should just know” anything.

2. Recognize Our Frameworks of Understanding
Our Frameworks of Understanding are how we take in and sort information. It’s easy for us to think that we see things objectively, and that others will see what we see, hear what we hear, and so on. This is far from the case. Our Frameworks are ours, and we must recognize this. If our Framework is centered on safety and security, we’re less likely to innately understand someone’s actions who’s Framework is centered on approval and acceptance, or on righteousness. In other words, living in a pond makes no sense to a bird.

3. The Empty Cup
There’s a Zen story that I’ll greatly abbreviate for you about a student who felt he’d studied long and hard, and wanted the Master to give him the meaning of Zen right there. The Master said “let’s have tea first,” and began to pour the student’s cup. He kept pouring as it overflowed, and the student shouted, “stop there’s no room for more!” The Master replied, “yes, your cup is so full of your opinions and speculations, there’s no room for more. Before you can learn, you must empty your cup.”

This is what we need to do with our Framework of Understanding, as difficult as that might be. If I’m to understand the life of a fish, I must empty my cup of my “bird Framework.”

4. Answer Every Problem with Compassion
Once we’ve emptied our cup of silly narratives like “I don’t take insults from anybody,” we can go deeper and ask ourselves, who does this serve, and how does it serve all? When the Buddha was stopped in the street by a man who angrily called him names, his response was loving kindness and compassion. He smiled and said that anger is like holding a hot coal to throw at someone; it really does more damage to the one holding it. Long afterward, the man would still be suffering the anguish of his anger, while Buddha, unattached to this man’s anger, would be on his way.

As a kid in New York, I was often a target of bullies. I found that when I had compassion for their unhappy states that led them to believe hurting me would make them feel better, they were at first confused. I pointed out that it had never helped in the past, since they were still miserable, so maybe we could find another way. I was probably remembering the fable of Androcles removing the thorn from the lion’s paw, and it really worked. We often became friends.

5. Let Go of the Tug-of-War Rope
Saving the biggest problem for last, the number one cause of conflict in any relationship is always a power struggle. There’s either a gardener and a garden, or each person keeps trying to top the other, back and forth. The latter causes constant conflict and is utterly irrelevant to a relationship or a team. You don’t tackle your own quarterback.

This means throwing away all the silliness of childish posturing. Scorekeeping keeps us on opposite sides, rather than on the same team. “I did this for you, but you didn’t do that for me” is two separate people. “I did this for us” is a couple or team. We’re each responsible for being our best, not someone else’s. If you’re in a loving relationship, (not an abusive one) it means loving that person, not trying to change them. If change is needed for the good of the relationship, that’s a conversation. If it’s to “please” someone, it’s antithetical to authenticity, and not sustainable.

These five rules may seem overly simple, as I mentioned earlier, but they’re not necessarily easy to implement. We need to be extremely conscious and aware of what we’re saying and doing, and be able to hit the brakes far more often than the accelerator. Explicit communication and compassion rather than posturing and narratives is really the secret. Be present, be kind, be real.

Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


Valentine's Day isn't the only reason
 to get along

Communication is the number one issue couples identify as their stumbling block, followed closely by control battles. This doesn't have to be the case at all!

Want the secret decoder ring? Understanding each other will be so simple, you'll wonder why you waited so long.

Pop by the
web site to see what's on Special for February! Look for some hearts.

"The ride home from our session may have been the first time in years where we had a fun, exciting conversation in the car, instead of getting caught up in complaints or bickering.  Instant success!" -M.F., San Francisco, CA

If you're looking for the best you but having trouble finding him/her, have a conversation with Ian and you'll see a light of possibilities." - Dr. A.P., San Francisco, CA


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication -
The Integram - the podcast series

Melissa Risdon's Raving Fan Radio Show:
Ian Blei on the
Integram (TM) -understanding ourselves, each other, and our relationships

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition


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The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
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Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


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"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

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“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

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