The Relationship Cure is one of the four best books I have read about developing, nurturing, and sustaining relationships. I hope that everyone I know reads this book!
The book's focus is drawn from observations of people speaking with their family, friends, and lovers. From this work, the authors have skillfully located the mechanisms that can be used to improve connection and communication, and provide much practical coaching on what the reader should work on. Anyone who follows the advice in this book will live a life filled with much richer human connections. Think of reading this book as like having an emotional intelligence coach.
The book begins by looking at the fundamental ways that connection is pursued. People say and do things to get attention and make their needs known, which the authors call bids. "People make bids because of their natural desire to feel connected with other people." How you respond determines how well the connection develops. You can use words (like questions, statements, or comments) or actions (touching, expressions, gestures, and sounds). As step one, you are encouraged to look at your own bids for connection. You want to avoid being "fuzzy" about your purposes. This can come from being ambiguous, being a poor communicator, being negative, or not acting like it is important. When you respond to bids, use a positive stance, pay attention, interact in a high energy way, and be playful. Avoid reacting mindlessly. You are especially warned against harmful ways to respond (not being mindful of your reactions, starting on a sour note, employing harmful criticism, being overcome with emotion, having a crabby way of thinking, and avoiding conversations you need to have).
The book also explores the style you use to think about communication. You will be able to see which of 7 types you most closely fit with (commander-in-chief, explorer, sensualist, energy czar, jester, sentry, and nest-builder). You will also find how to tell if you are over or under doing it, and how to adjust. You next look at the emotional heritage of how you learned to respond to others in your family. Again, there are tools to help you change where that would be helpful.
Another section looks at reading others' emotions, naming your own feelings, using richer metaphors, and ways of active listening.
Next, you are encouraged to find places where you can share meaningful, positive connections with others . . . even if you have differences in other areas.
After you have this overview, chapter eight looks at how to apply all of these perspectives to marriage, parenthood, friendship, siblings, and co-workers.
The book's strength is that it uses examples that you can identify with. Then, rather than leaving you hanging with what not to do, the book goes on to provide alternative ways to handle the same situation. There are too many to memorize easily, but you will soon get the hang of how to compose a reaction that will be better received. In fact, you probably run into fruitless conservations with certain people so often that it would help to draft out some possible alternatives in advance. I also found the self-diagnosis exercises to be helpful. I think you will, too.
After you have finished reading this book, you must practice applying it. I suggest that you start with someone who is fairly easy to communicate with already. Later, you can go on to work with those who you have more problems with, as you develop your skill.
This book will be especially valuable to men who want to communicate in more effective ways with women. Realizing that women put out more bids for connection in many situation, this book will help men realize better ways to respond. I was impressed with how well the advice worked in my family as I followed it during the days following my initial reading of the book. Of all the things I have tried out that I have read in books, these suggestions worked our far better than most! And they made me feel a lot better and more relaxed in the process. That's a pretty nice advantage to gain from reading a book.
May you always be rich in your human connections as you desire!