My #1 Tool for Avoiding Conflict in Any Relationship

The more time with spend with a person and the more we care about them, the closer we get. Our romantic partners, family members, closest friends, and business colleagues are the people we cherish.

And . . .

They are often also the people who know our buttons and we know theirs. They get the best of us…and the not-so-best of us. We love them and they drive us crazy sometimes. I think we can all admit that sometimes the people we love the most are also the people we get the most irritable with, or judgmental of, or hurt by. This leads to arguments, passive aggressive behavior and eventually resentment.

None of us want that in our closest and most important relationships so how do we avoid it? Is the answer always being on our “best” behavior? Sure that is a lovely intention but we are all human and we have our moments that can lead to hurt feelings, fights, and even resentment. That is why I LOVE this simple tool that I share with you in today’s video.

Be sure to watch the video as I explain this tool in greater detail, but here is the overview: When you are NOT in an argument or triggered, have a talk with someone you are in significant relationship with, where you come up with a code word to alert each other when either of you is engaging in hurtful behavior.

For example, let’s say it really bothers you when your husband checks his phone when you are talking because it makes you feel like he is not listening. Choose a word like “monkey” (funny words work well) that you can say next time he does it to alert him to his behavior without having to get in an argument about it.

Code words are a two way street so playing off the example above, if you have one to call your husband out on, you have got to acknowledge you probably do something that really irks him as well. Let’s say he really gets annoyed when you nag him. His code word could be “banana” and that is your cue to stop nagging.

This tool is highly effective if both people agree to use it and respond when they hear the code word. So many arguments and hurt feelings can be avoided by using code words. Plus they are handy to use in public situations as well!

The people we love most deserve the best of us. Do not reserve your best behavior for acquaintances or people you are seeking to impress.@ChristinHassler (Click to Tweet!)

I’m excited to hear how this tool could work for you and what tools you currently use to improve communication and connection in your relationships. Please leave comments below.



Christine Hassler has broken down the complex and overwhelming experience of recovering from disappointment into a step-by-step treatment plan in her new book Expectation Hangover. This book reveals the formula for how to process disappointment on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels to immediately ease suffering. Instead of wallowing in regret, self-recrimination, or anger, we can see these experiences as catalysts for profound transformation and doorways that open to possibility. You can find more info on her website, and follow her on Twitter and FB.

Image courtesy of 366308.

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Do You Ever Think About September Being the Other January?

Even though I haven’t been in school for a long time, for me, September marks the beginning of a new year. Orange is the new black, breakfast is the new lunch, Monday is the new Thursday, pork is the other white meat, and September is the other January. (And yes, it’s still September, even though most schools start in August nowadays.)

January is the official start of the new year, and I always get a burst of renewed zeal at that time, but September also gives the same feeling of an empty calendar and a clean slate. The air seems charged with possibility and renewal.

Back-to-school is a time of self-evaluation and reflection–and also a time when I feel the urge to clean out my office.

Because of the new year feeling of September, when I wanted to do a happier-at-home project, I decided to start it in September.

So many of the elements of a happy life come together in the idea of home: marriage and parenthood, in my case, though certainly not in everyone’s case; time; possessions; body; neighborhood; and, perhaps most enigmatically, the idea of now. I wanted to set aside a time to focus on the aspects of my life, to try to be as happy as I could be.

If you’re thinking about doing a happiness project yourself, now is always the best time to start–but if you do like to pick a particularly auspicious time, September is a good one. Think about it! From September to May, in one school year, you could take some steps to boost your happiness.

If you’d like to read something to get inspired to do a happiness project focused on your experience of home, try…Happier at Home.

Summer is almost over, and the fall brings fresh beginnings and new possibilities. Now is now.

This feeling of beginning is a good time to start new habits; we can take advantage of the Strategies of the Clean Slate and First Steps to tackle our habits. In Better Than Before, my book about habit-formation, these two strategies are in the section on “The Best Time To Begin.”

Do you feel inspired to turn over a new leaf in September? Or is this just me? (For readers in other zones, please substitute your beginning-of-school-year time. The same principle applies.)

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Lukas Müller.

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The post Do You Ever Think About September Being the Other January? appeared first on Positively Positive.

Fail Like You Mean It

I teach all my clients to dream—to be bold and go after what they really want in their lives. I’m not talking about having one or two dreams. I ask people to create dreams in all areas of their lives. Inevitably, there is one issue that arises when going after a dream: failure.

To quote my favorite writer, Tom Robbins: “So you think that you’re a failure, do you? Well, you probably are.

And what’s wrong with that?”

“So you think that you’re a failure, do you? Well, you probably are. What’s wrong with that? In the first place, if you’ve any sense at all you must have learned by now that we pay just as dearly for our triumphs as we do for our defeats. Go ahead and fail. But fail with wit, fail with grace, fail with style. A mediocre failure is as insufferable as a mediocre success. Embrace failure! Seek it out. Learn to love it. That may be the only way any of us will ever be free.” Tom Robbins

It’s guaranteed that you will fail at some point while pursuing a dream in your life. But when you fail, will you misunderstand your failure’s lessons like most people usually do? Or will you relate powerfully to the failure and grow from the struggle?

Most people are so afraid of failing that they never face it directly, thinking that admitting failure will prevent success. It’s critical to understand that the opposite is true:

Experiencing failure is just as important as—and usually a stepping-stone to—success. @LaurenZander (Click to Tweet!)

Failure is not a dirty word, yet most of us have a dirty relationship with it. Failure is smart, brilliant, and painful; that pain is honest. Most people do everything to avoid real pain, but this is a mistake.

First, admit It

The first thing you should do is admit defeat. Whether it’s in your love life, how you handle money, or your career, there really is a point at which you should do yourself a favor and admit you’ve hit a wall. Stop trying to keep going or jumping to blame yourself or others for what isn’t working. Blaming yourself is not the same as taking responsibility. Blaming yourself leads nowhere.

Move Through It

Next, I help my clients really see that they have landed facedown in a sloppy mess that needs to be figured out and cleaned up. Knowing this helps them develop a more powerful relationship to failure. I advise them to “tee-up” a good cry, in the context of facing it once and for all. In this stage, you’re going to surrender, cry, and then “get back on the horse” much smarter and stronger. It’s important to feel whatever you’re feeling, so you can move through it, but you can’t fake this part. Mourn so you can let it go and start to understand the failure. Once you admit you’re sitting in a wreck of your own making, you’re closer to success than you’ve probably been in a long time.

Take Responsibility

This is when you need to come to terms with the truth that you failed, and it’s time to use hindsight to figure out what you would have done differently. Often, people don’t think they actually failed. Instead, they blame other people and situations, never taking responsibility. “It’s the economy.” “He did it.” “I didn’t have enough time.” And on and on. When you blame others, you can’t see what exactly happened or the impact of your choices, and so you can’t embrace the lesson you need to learn in order to later succeed.

To see just how you failed, you must break it down honestly. How did you fail? What happened? What did you do wrong? What could you have done differently? Any honest regrets? In each failure, there’s a reason why and it’s usually a pattern in your life you must break. If you look back over your life, you’ll see that you repeated many of the same mistakes over and over. It’s because you never learned the lesson. Looking at the specifics of your failure and understanding what happened is the only way to move forward.

Learn the Lesson

I’ve had clients who’ve been divorced several times because they didn’t do the right work to learn the right lesson. When I got them to really look deeply at their broken marriages and tell the truth about what went wrong, they could see the mistakes they repeated and lessons they missed in all their marriages.

A former client called me, upset that she had regained the 20 pounds she lost. She felt like a failure. When I asked her what she thought happened, she explained that a work project at her job had distracted her from taking care of herself. With a few more questions, she could see the real reason for the failure: She had changed her rules. Instead of having one “free” meal per week, she had decided on free weekends, every weekend. Once she understood the real failure, she got the right lesson: Keep the rules that worked for losing the weight. You may want to check your assessment of why you failed with someone who can smartly “sniff” your logic.

Create New Rules

Once you know the lesson, it’s time to put rules into place so you don’t make the same mistakes. Every failure demands different actions as soon as possible. Rules really do diminish the chance of future failures. If you fail again in the same way, just know that you didn’t learn the right lesson the first time and whatever rules you put in place were not the right ones. Make your next honest adjustment to your actions and move on, wiser, and now closer this time to succeeding.

Move Forward

Learn to respect and study your past failures. They will provide you with a deeper level of understanding of who you are and what you need to change in your life. With each failure, if you surrender to it, own it, find the lesson, and change your actions, you will get closer to achieving what you really want.

Love, Lauren

P.S. Ready to declare “I’VE FAILED!” and learn to laugh about it? Take the Current Reality Quiz! It’s a quick, easy, and fun (we swear) way to self-assess and get a better idea (or at least an honest one) on what areas of your life you need to work on.

Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of Pedro de Sousa.

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