Emotion Regulation 1.13: Keep Relationship

Keep Relationship

We continue a series on how to effectively manage emotions, so that we can engage more thoughtfully in relationship. All of the skills we discuss are designed to support the ultimate goal of wisdom (see post titled, “Emotion Regulation 1.0”).

For several posts, we looked at various awareness skills, and then we covered several distress tolerance skills. Yesterday we began looking at a few interpersonal effectiveness (assertiveness) skills. Today’s skill: Keep Relationship.

In our world of technology and instant gratification, being present in relationship requires mindfulness. We have to train ourselves to be aware and engaged with the other. It’s easier, of course, to assume that we are right and that the other would see the world the way we do if they would only submit to our view of reality. That’s what we call a fantasy.


Real relationships don’t work that way. We actually have to consider the world from the eyes of the other. This is literally what respect means. Re = again; spect = to see. To see again…from a different perspective.

In that regard, we have another acronym for you: GIVE.


G – Gentleness. Remember that you’re dealing with another human being. Speak to him or her the way you’d like to be spoken to.

I – Interest. Be curious, ask questions–not to form your next argument, but simply to understand where the other is coming from. You don’t have to agree, but at least try to understand.

V – Validate. Yes, you can validate a perspective that you don’t share. If you see the world from someone else’s eyes, their view of things will make sense to you. Then you may simply have to agree to disagree, or negotiate so that you both can get some of what you want.

E – Easy manner. You can have an easy manner if you let go of any particular outcome–if you’re willing to let the relationship unfold in a way that goes with the grain, rather than against it, or rather than you’d make it to go if you could control it. This is the Japanese concept of wu-wei: non-forcing. Or the Swahili concept of hakuna matata: no worries.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Of course, there are times when your emotions will challenge your resolve to stay responsibly engaged in relationship, and there are times when you’ll fail. But with practice, you’ll get better and better at slowing down, managing your emotions and taking responsibility for your role in the climate of the relationship.



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