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Just as children mimic their parent’s behaviour, so too do employees mimic the leadership behaviour in the organisation. Parents set the tone by which the family functions and thrives whilst leaders set the tone for the corporate culture, values, vision and mission. The basic principles are the same, the key difference being that our personal relationships are more emotionally charged as they are driven by romantic love, whilst in the workplace we are driven by the love we feel for the organisation we work for, our fellow colleagues and being valued for the contribution we make.

We are quick to review our work relationships in terms of performance appraisals, performance reviews, deliverables and targets but we very seldom do that in our personal relationships.  Paula Quinsee, relationship expert and author of Embracing Conflict helps us understand how marriages are like business relationships and what we can do to be successful in both.Communication is key in all relationships. In fact 90% of all problems in any relationship, personal or professional are due to the lack of communication. “This is either what is not being said or what’s not being heard, for fear of being judged or being criticized or being dismissed or not being taken seriously,” says Quinsee.

Humans are energy beings and can instinctively tell or feel when the space doesn’t feel safe. And when that space doesn’t feel safe between two people there is very little sharing and very little honesty going on because we are protecting ourselves on an emotional level. It is therefore very important to focus on your communication, your listening, hearing and understanding versus listening to respond or to prove a point or to get the upper hand.

While it may be difficult it is also important to remind yourself not to get caught in the emotion of it all. When we get caught up in the emotion, things spiral out of control. We have to manage our own emotional state so that we don’t allow the other person to influence our emotional state.

Unfortunately, situations don’t just happen to us. We don’t just wake up in the morning and decide that today I am going to fight with you. Or today I am going to have an affair, or today I am going to walk away. It happens over time. So if you don’t make time for your relationship, over time you are not going to have a relationship.

Date nights are an effective way to do this. Quinsee reminds us that date nights don’t have to be at night. Date nights can be breakfast, brunch, lunch it can be afternoon tea, sundowners. The beauty of date nights or dates is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive. It can be as simple as walking around the block together, and it’s about how can you use that time to be fully present for your partner and talk about the deeper really meaningful things.

So what happens when you spend time with your partner?  Spending time with your partner also forces you to see things from their perspective. A lot of people battle with this, but one way you can get around this is to say, ‘Ok, if I am feeling this way right now what would I like or want from my partner.’ Maybe it’s just a hug, maybe it’s a need to bring humour to the situation to turn the emotional charge down.  But very important to remember is that couples are equally responsible for keeping this space safe between them.

Quinsee suggests finding a minimum of 15 minutes each day without interruptions where you can really connect with each other. To really listen and hear what the other person has to say.

After all, relationships are about connection and a willingness to give as much as you take.

Always remember it takes two to build a relationship and it takes two to hold each other accountable to uphold your relationship boundaries, to uphold your relationship goals as a couple but also as individuals. There needs to be a commitment to support each other through the relationship and unfortunately this is where a lot of couples get stuck.

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