The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

 

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The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

When we think about the little people in our lives who are already faced with fighting larger battles than we will ever know, empathy and compassion kick in, urging us to be diligent with our word, lean in closer with our hearts, and to listen carefully with our ears. Even so, we find ourselves, especially as parents, employers, teachers, and educators having to give feedback, on a regular basis, about behaviour, performance, and effort.

I’ve always struggled with this. How do we hold space for and build up children and individuals who struggle with their identities, home lives, and mental health, while upholding our responsibilities as educators to hold them to high expectations?

I remember a particularly challenging student I had who must have experienced nothing but negative interactions throughout his day. He would literally arrive at school buzzing and had such a difficult time settling into any routine. He was disruptive. He struggled academically. He could be very rude. He had a soft heart with rock hard armour and he would launch into fight-mode so as to preemptively ward off perceived threats at the drop of a hat.

The cumulative daily burden of the chastising by his parents and family, thwarted peer-to-peer connections, and the negative comments coming from teachers and principals must have been a heavy load to bear by the time this boy went to sleep at night. It often weighed heavily on me that I could be contributing to his negative self-concept with my own demands on his behavior. I couldn’t help but think about the compounding negative effects of his mostly negative exchanges day-over-day, week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over- year. No wonder so many of our struggling, at-risk students lose their curious spark and love of life by the time they leave us in Grade 12. So many of them have received consistent messages telling them that no matter how hard they try, they will never be good enough, never measure up, never amount to anything.

So, like many dedicated educators I know, I tried my very best to maintain positive interactions with him frequently throughout the day, no matter the kind of day he was having. Sure, I had no choice but to correct him often, but it was my mission in life to ambush him with love and respect during our time together. And, I always accepted and celebrated approximations of desired behaviour! As a result, 8 years later, he still visits my classroom, lamenting that our time together had to come to an end.

Whenever I think of this student, or many like him who have followed in his footsteps, I wonder how to offset the negative feedback we have no choice to provide from time to time. Boundaries have to be set and reinforced, even in a loving environment.

I recently stumbled upon a study done by relationship researcher Dr. John Gottham which really got me thinking. I guess I had never thought of my interactions in such a data-oriented way, but it made me wonder if perhaps I had adhered to a proven ratio without even knowing it.

According to Gottham, there is a scientifically proven 5:1 ratio of authentic positive to negative interactions that exist within effective, healthy relationships. This means that for every one negative feeling or interaction between individuals, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. In other words, “unless positive interactions outnumber negative interactions by five to one, odds are that the relationship will fail.”

What if it was this easy? What if we could be a little more aware of our positive to negative interactions, keeping Gottam’s rule in our head as we do so? How might our classrooms cultures be different?  How might we feel knowing that most of our interactions were positive?

We all know that successful educators are effective because of the relationships they build. So, I would argue that if we want to be successful as parents, teachers, employers, and even spouses, this ratio should stay at the forefront of our minds.

#smallactbigimpact21days

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https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-magic-relationship-ratio-according-science/

The 25 Beliefs I Once Held to be True…but Don’t Anymore

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Like everyone else I know, I have a million-and-one things I should be doing instead of writing this post right now, but that tiny fleeting voice of inspiration came knocking and tugged on my shirtsleeve. So, while the kids were napping, I did what any self-respecting mom on a ‘nap-break’ with mountains of laundry, tons of research to do, gazillions of emails to respond to, and a disaster of a house to clean…I indulged the urge to sit down with a pen and paper. I gave inspiration an inch…then, as the saying goes…time literally evaporated.

My loved ones all know my passion for lists, but this one’s a little different than the usual to-do or goal-setting lists. The following is a compilation of some of the beliefs I once held to be true…the ones I now whole-heartedly reject.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, but more interestingly, perhaps you’ll disagree. Let me know!

Regardless, I felt compelled to examine, tease-out, and share some of the strongly held beliefs I once had to illustrate that it’s very possible to change one’s mind.

Here is goes…in no particular order:

  1. Mind-games and posturing are the only road to true love. Vulnerability is for suckers.
  2. Effective parenting results from manufacturing adversity so that one’s children will toughen-up for the real world. I once heard someone say that they seek to disappoint their children every single day for this reason!
  3. Perfection is the antidote to criticism-the notion that if one achieves perfection in terms of work performance, grades in school, physically, in our relationships (parents, children, friends, spouses) that we will receive immunity from the pain and hurt that our experiences have the capacity to unleash upon us (*And by-the-way, perfection is not only a total fallacy, but it’s a dangerous and seductive illusion founded in fear.)
  4. Grief is a finite process with an end date. (*Nope. It’s more like an ocean whose waves are sometimes gentle and lapping, and other times have the immense capacity to pull you right under.  Grief is unpredictable. The kindness and bravest thing we can do for others and ourselves is to hold space for grief and sit along those in grief as they navigate its choppy waters.)
  5. Achieving your goals = happiness
  6. Beauty is objective.
  7. Parenting is easy, if you’re doing it right. (Ha! Riggghht…)
  8. The only way to navigate this world and make it out alive is to construct and dawn a thick coat of armour so strong that neither joy nor pain shall penetrate one’s tender heart.
  9. Successful, obedient students exemplify successful teaching.
  10. Being courageous is not for me.
  11. I am alone in my experiences.
  12. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
  13. Being “good” is the only road to worthiness.
  14. Admitting to experiencing sadness, anger, loneliness, and jealousy means that there’s something wrong with you.
  15. The only way to be spiritual is to go to church.
  16. Creativity lies inherently within the individual. You either are or you aren’t. The genius resides within the artist.
  17. Everything in life is random.
  18. We must ask our passions to provide for us, financially.
  19. Forgiveness is impossible because it means condoning.
  20. Seeking and acquiring approval from others is the only way to win at life. *In the words of Seth Godin, seeking to please everyone makes you a “walking generality” instead of a “meaningful specific.”
  21. Everyone deserves a second chance. *No they don’t! Maya Angelou once said, “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time!”
  22. My worthiness of love and belonging is directly dependent on my ability to earn it. It’s about hustling. *Nope. Nope. Nope! You are born worthy of love and belonging. The minute you start believing that, the more you can get down to the important, purposeful work you were meant to do!
  23. People’s personalities are fixed.
  24. I cannot write the ending to my story.
  25. Achieving and striving toward audacious goals is for other people.