What are your relationship priorities?

As Rivka Levy points out in The Relationship Priorities Matrix, “One of the biggest causes of stress is when we end up putting people who are low-priority ahead of those who should be top priority. Take that needy friend who is on the phone tying up your time and attention for hours while your kids start going bananas because you didn’t manage to get supper on the table, help them with their homework or maybe, even just say ‘hi’ to them and spend 5 minutes catching up on their day at school…”

Think about your relationship priorities matrix and prioritise your time and attention accordingly.

Typical relationship priority matrix for a couple with children is provided below.

“The idea behind it is pretty simple. The lower the number, the higher the priority. And if you’re spending a bunch of time and energy on people who are in the outer rings – at the expense of people who are in your ‘inner circles’ – then that for sure is going to be causing you some massive stress. And it may well be time to rethink what’s going on…”

What is your relationship priorities matrix and how do you prioritise your time?

Source: The Relationship Priorities Matrix,

90% of all inter-gender conflict is misunderstanding

While much has been said about women being from Venus and men being from Mars, the reality is that we all live on the same planet Earth and need to interact with each other in different ways on a daily basis. As Cynthia Burggraf Torppa points out, “Although at times differences in women’s and men’s communication styles seem to be constant and overwhelming, they are really quite minor. For example, both women and men can be nurturing, aggressive, task-focused, or sentimental. What is important to think about, however, is that women and men sometimes perceive the same messages to have different meanings. In fact, it may be as a result of the differences in message interpretation that the “battle of the sexes” occurs….

Women tend to be the relationship specialists and men tend to be task specialists. Women are typically the experts in “rapport talk” which refers to the types of communication that build, maintain, and strengthen relationships. Rapport talk reflects skills of talking, nurturing, emotional expression, empathy, and support. Men are typically the experts in task accomplishment and addressing questions about facts. They are experts in “report talk,” which refers to the types of communication that analyzes issues and solves problems. Report talk reflects skills of being competitive, lacking sentimentality, analyzing, and focusing aggressively on task accomplishment.

These differences can create specific, and commonly experienced, misunderstandings. Here are three examples:

Misunderstanding #1

He: I’m really tired. I have so much work to do—I don’t know how I’m going to get it done!

She: Me, too. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

He: There you go again! You never think my contributions to this marriage are good enough!

In this conversation, she is trying to communicate something like “We’re partners and share similar experiences.” Her intended “between the lines” message is: “I understand what you’re going through; you’re not alone.” The “between the lines” message he hears emphasizes competition for status: “What are you complaining about? You aren’t any better than I am!” or “Your contributions to our marriage aren’t any more significant than mine!”…

Misunderstanding #2

She: I’m really tired. I have so much work to do—I don’t know how I’m going to get it done!

He: Why don’t you take a day off and rest, if you’re so tired?

She: (sarcastically) Thanks a lot! You think my contribution to this household is so trivial that I can do nothing and the difference won’t even be noticed?

Here, he is trying to communicate something like “Oh, you need advice and analysis? I’ll focus on the details and facts, and offer a solution.” His intended “between the lines” message is: “I will help you solve your problem because I think I know something that might help.” The “between the lines” message she hears him saying: “I don’t want to understand your feelings; I’m different from you and I know what you should do.”…

Misunderstanding #3

She: Call me when you get there and let me know you made it safely.

He: That’s ridiculous! Nothing bad is going to happen, so just trust that I’ll get there safely! If something bad does happen, I’m sure you’ll hear about it!

In this final example, she is trying to communicate something like, “We’re connected and I care about you and your safety.” Her intended “between the lines” message is: “You are loved and important to me.” The “between the lines” message he hears her saying is: “You had better check in with me! I want to know where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing at all times.”…

Understanding differences is the key to working them out. When we misunderstand one another, we often think that the other’s motives are not reasonable, are mean spirited, or worse! But by knowing that women and men sometimes see—and hear!—things through different filters, we can begin to share with one another the distortions we experience, and thereby find our way to clarity.

Have you experienced conflicts due to gender differences in the interpretation of the same message?

Source: Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships

US AND THEM not US VS THEM: A few lessons from a dog park

What can a dog park teach us about bridging great societal divides? Brilliant talk. I cannot think of a more appropriate time in our lives to hear this message. There is a difference between US AND THEM and US VS THEM. We all can go beyond our own identities and ‘packs’ to find common ground with those we may disagree with on personal, work-related, social and political grounds. We are all humans after all – this human identity is common to us all…

NO to WAR

It is hard to stay silent with the recent events in Ukraine. I’m one of the thousands of Russian-Ukrainians. As a child I used to spend all my summer holidays with my Ukrainian family in the Luhansk Region, which is now in the epicentre of that war. It was such a beautiful place with wonderful people – very caring close-knit community of Ukrainian and Russian coal-miners, working shoulder to shoulder in the deepest and some of the dangerous coal-mines in the world. Amazing men who were going 700-800 meters under the ground to feed their families, always coming home with a big smile and a hug for us, kids! Such a terrible crime against people, such a terrible war…..

Coalminers

This area has never recovered from the 2014 war with sobering pictures of destruction. Here is just one of the images from that time – an airport before and after the 2014 war.

Donetsk Airport before and after the 2014 war

Who could ever imagined that Kharkiv in 2022 would look like London in 1942. Kharkiv is the second-largest city and municipality in Ukraine that I used to travel through when visiting my family in Ukraine in 1980s. Beautiful city with wonderful people – people who have nowhere to run now and are hiding under the ground from shelling.

Kharkiv in 2022

Russians of all genders, ages and walks of life are standing with Ukraine against the war! In all major Russian cities people are protesting the war. The breathtaking bravery of people who know they’ll be arrested and prosecuted for this….

Russian people are protesting the war in Ukraine

NO to WAR!

Invincible love and smile…

“My dear,

In the midst of hate, I found there was,

within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was,

within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was,

within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was,

within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

Truly yours,
Albert Camus”

Never lose that invincible
love and smile…

THE END