19.7 billion dollars was the total estimated amount spent by Americans on Valentines day in 2016, and one in 2 people reported celebrating Valentines Day. Yet for all of that money spent and celebration happening – the divorce rate it is still alarmingly high. One of the three most common causes of divorce? Poor communication. Communication is often doted as the reason for issues in organizational performance, as well as personal and relationship issues. Interestingly it is not that communication is lacking, it is that it does not align in a way that the opposite party is able to understand.
The same is true in our personal lives. How many times after an interaction with your significant other have you said, "you are taking what I said the wrong way, I didn't mean it like that!" or "you just don't get me". The responsibility to ensure the message is received as intended is on the one delivering the message, which means we all have to be aware of how the people we speak with understand communication. The reality is that often opposites attract, and it can be difficult to get inside of a brain that is not like yours.
My favorite way of understanding communication styles is with the Identity Mapping assessment. In it, there are four "Ways" outlined, each with their own communication style and perspective. We each have all four ways, but there is one that resonates more strongly with each of us than the rest. We call this your "Primary Way".
|Primary Way||Typical Characteristics|
|Logical||Problem solver, likes lots of data to make decisions, analytical, to the point|
|Organized||Detail oriented, likes routine, responsible, values rules, dependable|
|Relationship||Compassionate, good listener, comfortable expressing feelings, kind|
|Action||Adventurous, spontaneous, likes change, great negotiator, life of the party|
If you can identify your partner's Way, that is a great start to having a better connection and a higher degree of emotional intelligence. In fact, if you can identify yourself and your partner I am sure that some immediate "aha! 's" come to mind. This is the first step in building emotional intelligence. We actually have to appreciate and try and think in someone else's way to "get" them.
I had some fun preparing for this blog by surveying many people, both men and women of different ages, from each of the primary way groups to ask them what they would most appreciate from their significant other on Valentine's Day. Below are some of the results:
The Logical way subset was most interested in something low key, quiet and not too crowded. A candlelight dinner at a great restaurant, followed by a movie (Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Comic book movies received the most votes)
The Organized way subset was most interested in celebrating a tradition that was special to the couple, such as seeing your favorite musician or going to your favorite hang-out. Even doing chores for this way is appreciated, but make sure it is done the way they would want!
The Relationship way is often the easiest to celebrate on valentines because they appreciate the gesture. However because being appreciated is so important to this way, making a personal gesture goes farther than the amount spent. Ideas from this group were a handwritten note or card, a list of reasons you love them, uninterrupted time together and chocolate!
The Action way people I surveyed had varying answers but all of them centered around "doing" something for a date. Going to the gun range together, bowling, or dancing were top choices from this subset. Consider trying something new and taking charge of the plans for your date; that alone is attractive to the action way.
Purposefully trying to make meaningful connections in our relationships is a great step towards improving our emotional intelligence. We wish you a Happy Valentine's day – however you choose to celebrate love or friendship.