Finding the Right Fit

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Academic & Career Success, Blog

Someone recently made the observation that companies are now ranking how well candidates fit with their organizational culture above how strong their skillsets are and asked me why I thought this was so. I replied that hiring based on fit with the organization’s culture makes sense because a company’s brand is closely associated with its culture. As business culture and branding expert Ekaterina Walter explains, “The culture you will create internally will have a direct impact on your company’s reputation externally… And it is very visible when employees are not passionate about the brand they work for.” 

Puzzle (2)So it’s essential that employees don’t just understand the culture, but that they exemplify it.  In terms of employee fit, culture relates to employee behaviors, values, attitudes, decision-making styles, and the like. These are not learned, for the most part, whereas skills can be acquired and developed.  I remember my early human resource mentors advising me to try to assess applicants’ personalities and values, as we could teach them the knowledge and skills they needed to succeed much more readily than we could fix their personality flaws or dysfunctional behavior. Similarly, it’s easier to recover from the mistakes of an under-skilled employee than it is from one with a bad attitude.

The significance of employee fit with culture is relevant to both hiring managers and job applicants.  On the organization’s end, it must first articulate its culture and define the behaviors and personality characteristics it associates with that culture.  Is creativity more important than meeting tight timeframes?  What’s more important: low error rates or the ability to laugh at oneself?  Having completed this exercise, managers would then develop interview questions that serve to reveal the candidates’ behaviors and personalities, asking about situations that are relevant to the workplace.   Behaviorally-based questions using “what if” scenarios and “tell me a time when” phrasing work well for this purpose.  Job candidates should be enthused, not intimated, by this approach, because it gives them a glimpse of the work environment, allowing them to assess the business and self-select out if they don’t see a fit for themselves. 

Just as employers need to be able to describe their cultures, job seekers must be clear on their values, work styles, needs, and preferences.  A unique and superior tool I have found to clarify these priorities for individuals is the Birkman Preview Report.  Although it’s not as widely known as the Myers-Briggs or DiSC Profile, over 2.5 million people have used the Birkman when undergoing job changes or contemplating career transitions.  This online assessment helps individuals:

  • define their workplace strengths so they can clearly articulate them during a job interview.
  • identify what they need (not want) from a job, their manager, and the work environment in order for them to comfortably demonstrate their strengths at work.
  • know what to look for and the questions to ask during an interview.
  • achieve greater overall satisfaction in their life.

The Birkman Preview Report also assists new grads and more experienced re-careering adults with career exploration by 1) comparing the similarity of job seekers’ answers on the Birkman to those of other professionals in various career fields, and 2) providing direct links by job title to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, enabling them determine a job’s requirements, occupational forecast, and average pay. 

Employers also find the Birkman assessment of value.  Some use it to help employees and leaders be more successful in demonstrating their strengths.  According to Birkman, when someone’s needs aren’t met, it’s impossible for them to exhibit their strengths on an ongoing basis.  With the Birkman, the individual’s needs are identified so they can be met and positive behavior enhanced.  Others administer the Birkman Preview Report to final job candidates, to give hiring managers a deeper understanding of how the person will fit in the work environment.

Taking the Birkman is such a positive experience, as people come away equipped with a much clearer understanding of their strengths, needs, and behavior.  If you know someone who is in the job market or considering a new career, please refer them to me to learn more.  Companies are indeed looking closely at candidates’ alignment with their corporate culture.  It’s much easier today than ever before for employers and employees to find the right fit with corporate culture.

Dwelling in the Kingdom of God

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Learning To Receive

Ever had a perfect storm brewing where unexpected expenses mounted at a time when income was diminishing?  As someone who writes about receiving, I hear about such situations fairly often.  I’ve experienced them myself, especially in Phoenix where monsoons aren’t the only storms the summer tends to bring.  The housing market and many businesses face a decline in sales as people flee the heat for weeks at a time.  This comes at a time when utility bills are at their highest as air conditioners in homes and cars are taxed.  In the past three days, I’ve learned of two air conditioners that need replacing, and we’re only at the beginning of July.

During such storms, it’s not unusual for those familiar with the Christian scriptures to look to these encouraging words from the Sermon on the Mount:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

I came upon a reference to these verses today in John Randolph Price’s The Abundance Book.  Price makes a couple of noteworthy points about this advice.  The first is that we were not told to try for a little bit of the kingdom or for half the kingdom, but to go for it in its entirety.  We can settle for just getting by or we can claim something greater for ourselves; it’s up to us.  His second observation is that we don’t have to force anything to happen.  We just need to release the abundance that is already our nature.  Along these lines, the master teacher affirmed more than once that the kingdom of heaven is at hand or within us.  Surely it can’t be much easier to find than that.

I spent some time meditating on this idea that the kingdom of God is within me.  Like Dorothy of Kansas looking for home, I know that there really is no need to go looking outside of myself for it.  I do not have to seek it.  I just let go and realize that I’m already there.  (I like the notion of the kingdom of God being a place I can dwell.)  From there I reflected on what it means to dwell in the kingdom of God.  All kinds of wonderful ideas came forth.

  • It’s good to dwell in the kingdom of God (which is in and all around me) because that’s where God is. God is not in the past which no longer exists or in the future which hasn’t happened yet.
  • In the kingdom of God, I am unconditionally loved and always cared for, no matter what I do or don’t do.
  • The kingdom of God is where healing takes place – physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial.  This is where I need to be to weather this summer’s financial storm.
  • In the kingdom of God, I am restored and renewed.  I am encouraged and energized, ready to do what is mine to do.
  • It is there where all of my needs are met.
  • It’s God’s kingdom, so God’s in charge.  I don’t have to have the answers or fix anything.

If you find it difficult to imagine dwelling in such a place or if you have trouble feeling what I’ve described, you may want to read Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani.  She had a near-death experience, and her description of the episode sounds very much like she was dwelling in the kingdom of God and was absolutely certain of it.  .  While I was inspired and moved by all of her account, I found her comments about money to be quite encouraging.

Storm season is upon us in the Southwest.  Let us be mindful of where we choose to dwell, and we will receive all we need and more.

Networking Tips for New Grads

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Academic & Career Success, Blog

Networking is the most effective way for college graduates to begin their career, not only to secure that first position after college, but also to start building their professional network.  It’s essential that they think of the long term and start establishing relationships that will carry them forward.  They’ll want to remember that as a new graduate, they’ve been exposed to the latest research and methods in their field, so they have something to offer the professionals they’ll be networking with.

CrowdCollege grads should not be shy about approaching their own bank of connections such as family and friends, former employers, religious organizations, and advisors and instructors from college and even high school.  Grads can build their network through their college alumni association, LinkedIn, Facebook, local networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, and Toastmasters.  They can search the Internet or use Meetup to find local networking opportunities.  Professional associations in many areas of specialty (Society for Human Resource Management, American Society of Training and Development, AICPA, etc.) typically have chapters around the country. 

Most organizations allow guests to attend meetings or mixers at little to no cost.  I’ve found that many young people today have over-relied on electronic communication and lack the social skills needed to successfully network face to face.  I recommend Susan Roane’s classic, How to Work a Room, which is an invaluable guide to the techniques they’ll need to mingle at such events. 

There are some pitfalls networking newbies will want to avoid.  The first is seeing an event as an opportunity to distribute as many business cards as possible.  It would be wise to take a cue from the Chinese who treat business cards with reverence.  They hold their business cards in two hands when presenting them.  In a similarly respectful fashion, they make it a point to read a business card they receive before putting it down or away. It’s much more effective to give a business card more selectively, ideally when it’s been requested.

Another common misstep with business cards is to do nothing with them.  When I first started my business, I used to collect business cards and then never use them.  I went to too many events, gathered too many cards, and neglected to note anything on the card.  I didn’t have time to follow up right away, and I’d forget what each person’s story was.  I had stacks of business cards on my desk before I finally learned that it was better to attend fewer events and collect fewer cards.  This way I could add each one to my database and follow up as appropriate.  This approach has been much more effective than the mass marketing approach I began with.

Using this method leads naturally to another critical aspect of building a network: cultivating relationships.  When grads start with just a few contacts, it’s easier to follow up and keep in touch with them. They can connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other appropriate social media.  If the contact has given them any advice, the grad would do well do follow the guidance and then report back to the individual how things went.  Ideally they will in turn find a way to be of help to the new contact, such as by sharing an article, a marketing lead, or a relevant event announcement. If the person invites the grad to an event, they should make an effort to attend or at least reply to the invitation.  This may seem obvious, but I’ve found that it’s not. 

Communication is most effective when it’s personal and specific.  Grads shouldn’t be afraid to note details about their new contact so they can easily be specific in their conversations.  They can put a reminder on their calendar to follow up re: the contact’s wife’s surgery, the release of his new book, his father’s move to assisted living, etc.  Taking the time to comment on the individual’s Facebook posts or LinkedIn announcements also makes a difference. 

Networking means relationship building, and that takes time and effort.  The good news for recent graduates is that it’s inexpensive and effective and can be lots of fun.

I’m Ready to Expand – Who’s With Me?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Learning To Receive

My New Thought teachers have been encouraging me to expand since I began in the movement 14 years ago: expand my vision, beliefs, consciousness, goals, dreams, and so forth.  They’ve provided various techniques along the way, such as visioning and meditating, creating vision boards, and journaling.  I continue to engage in these practices, but I’ve noticed that not everyone is on board with me.  Have you ever found that?

A common place we can find resistance to our intention to broaden our horizons is in our employment.  Sometimes company policy or practice dictates that we fill a narrow role only. In those cases, branching out infringes on another department’s territory, and we are advised to stick to our own terrain.  Other times it may be an individual who feels threatened by our effort to step out of our workplace box.  We’re more likely to be able to work through this barrier than the former, depending on the other person’s willingness to collaborate and shift their perspective.  Another common scenario is that the organization’s scope, market, or structure just doesn’t afford us the room to expand.  No one means to keep us down; expansion just isn’t feasible in that environment.

There are times when people close to us don’t quite grasp our vision.  We may be holding a goal for ourselves that they never considered and don’t see as possible.  I remember years ago a friend of mine who thought about becoming a Mary Kay consultant.  Her husband immediately shot her down, stating that she could never do that.  I’m sure he meant well, but he obviously didn’t know Eleanor Roosevelt’s story.  It was she herself who thought she couldn’t do the speaking and have the public presence required of her once Franklin contracted polio.  She persevered, however, and overcame her limited thinking.  In her obituary dated November 8, 1962, the New York Times referred to her as the “world’s most admired woman.”

Friends and family may not encourage our growth because they sense it will impact them negatively.  I saw this frequently when I was a leader for Weight Watchers.  Husbands feared their wives would become more attractive to other men, and they would no longer measure up. Spouses and friends were afraid of losing their dining companion to a healthy lifestyle or that they would be pressured to change their own habits.  Of course, the growth we desire may be beyond diet and physical appearance.  As a college instructor, it’s not uncommon to hear stories of parents, spouses, and children who are not supportive of my students’ efforts to earn a degree.

Sadly, society has many ways of keeping us down, oftentimes intentionally.  Advertisers like to suggest that we are needy in some way and cannot transcend this situation without their product or service.  Do we really need fiber supplements or can a simple dietary change enable us to achieve greater health?  Is that elaborate piece of exercise equipment really essential to achieving a higher level of fitness?

Clubs, professional organizations, and social groups all have their cultures and norms, and life works better for these groups when all the members conform.  Is doing things the way we’ve always done them truly best for the organization and its members, or is there a fear that the power base may change if new ideas are introduced?  I’ve even seen churches that refuse to promote the events or opportunities of other religious organizations for fear that members may be lured away.

It’s no wonder that my teachers advise developing a daily practice to reinforce an expanding consciousness.  I’ve also found it beneficial to associate with like-minded individuals who nurture my growth and help me see beyond my perceived but imaginary limitations.  Despite the obstacles, let’s stay on course and see what happens.

Giving Effective Praise

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Academic & Career Success, Blog

While it’s great to shower employees with cash bonuses, gifts, and other tangible rewards, there are many ways to let people know we appreciate their efforts.  Employees often long to be recognized and praised.  To illustrate this point, motivator and speaker, Roger Crawford, describes a scene of a child on a diving board calling out “Watch me!” to his mother to get her attention as he dives in.  Crawford says that most employees are just like this and have an invisible sign on them that reads “Watch me!”

It’s unfortunate that more managers don’t realize how effective praise can be to motivate employees.  Praise doesn’t cost anything other than knowing how to deliver it well.  Just what does it take? Here are some critical steps to follow to make the praise most meaningful to employees (Titsworth, 1998):

  • Relate the praise to a specific accomplishment.  Avoid making vague, general statements that could apply to anyone.
  • Speak sincerely and naturally, being spontaneous rather than routine.
  • Let the employee know how valuable their contribution is, praising an achievement and not simple participation.
  • Attribute the employee’s success to their effort, not to chance.
  • Suggest that employee can maintain the positive outcome through continued effort.

It’s also best to make the praise relevant to the individual, not based on a comparison to others.  In addition, research shows that praise is most effective when it encourages effort for personal gratification rather than external rewards (Brophy, 1981).  Finally, praise needs to be conveyed on a timely basis.

As long as praise is sincere and aligned with the above guidelines, it’s almost impossible to give too much praise.  Recognition can be made publicly or privately, although I’ve learned that not everyone appreciates public praise.  It’s critical to know the employee’s preference or the intended morale-booster could have the opposite effect.  I learned this the hard way years ago when at a lunchtime employee assembly I read aloud the names of employees who had donated to our United Way campaign (not the amount, just their names).  One employee who was absent but heard that her name was read stormed into the Human Resources Department and chewed out my poor administrative assistant.  I had some damage control to do that day on more than one front.

Praise can also be delivered verbally or in writing.  Verbal praise has the benefit of possibly appearing to be spontaneous, which can be seen as a sign of sincerity.  It’s also quick and timely.  There is no lasting record, however, a distinct advantage of written praise which can take a variety of forms, such as a letter for the employee’s file, a memo to the employee’s supervisor, or an article in the company newspaper.  Some companies use electronic headlines or bulletin boards to recognize accomplishments.  Another approach that is appreciated because it is distinctive today is the hand-written note.  With the proliferation of electronic communication, most people don’t expect a physical letter, much less one that is hand-written.  It’s essential with any written communication that the details be presented accurately.  Here again, if the dissemination is to be public, the manager should be sure that the employee is comfortable with the attention that may ensue.

For all its potential, praise handled poorly can backfire.  In many situations, employees will overlook managers’ failed attempts if the managers’ efforts seem sincere.  This is not necessarily the case with praise, however.  An employee can be demoralized by praise that is not timely or seems insincere.  Recognition that is non-specific or is inaccurate damages the manager’s credibility, leaving the employee feeling unappreciated.

Managers are wise to reflect on their own experiences of being praised.  (Hopefully they have some to recall!) Learning from those experiences, they should plan their first few attempts at using praise, taking care to get the details straight and the timing right.  Most of all, managers need to be genuine when giving accolades, as sincerity is the most important element.

Getting Clear: Source vs. Channel

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Learning To Receive

“Channels come and channels go. Blessed be the name of the channel!”

~ Rev. Dr. Mary A. Tumpkin

From where does your supply come? Confusion between source and channel, cause and effect, is a common occurrence.  Let’s begin by examining some possible answers to what supplies our good to see what makes sense.

  • Employers – This is an almost automatic and natural response, since they sign our paychecks.  For the self-employed, they would read “client” or “customer” rather than “employer.”  In either case, it can certainly seem that employers supply our good.  In reality, they do not generate supply.  They obtain it from other sources and exchange it with us for the services we provide.  It’s risky to view our jobs as our source since they are so fleeting.  We’ll do better to recognize employment as just one channel through which our supply flows.
  • Parents – For most of us, this was the first answer we might ever have given. Parents typically make sure their children have their needs met.  Like employers, however, they do not create supply. They usually obtain it from employment and share it with their children.  Eventually most will stop working, and the roles may be reversed, with the parents looking to their children for supply.
  • Spouse/Partner – Our life partner may be the one who pays the bills or makes the majority of the household payments.  Like our parents, in reality this money comes from other sources.  Our spouse is not an original source of our supply, but one more channel.
  • The Government – Those receiving disability, SSI, Social Security, or other government assistance may believe the government is their source.  The money they receive comes through the government, not from it, having been collected from other sources such as tax revenues.  They’re essentially getting their own money back again.
  • Investments – Some people have enough investments in their name that they live on the earnings they received from a financial institution or other investors.  As with those listed above, neither institutions nor investors generate supply. They channel it.
  • Other Income – This could come in a variety of forms, such as royalties, tithes, interest, commission, winnings, or gifts.  All of these make their way to us by passing through another channel.
  • Children – Some seniors are blessed to have adult children who assist them by providing monetary support, housing, or other material goods.  Parents of children with careers may live off of their children’s earnings.  As we’ve already seen, this is another channel through which their supply comes.
  • Money – In the end, it may seem as if money itself, regardless of how it makes its way to us, is our source.  It can feel as if all we need is simply more money and our supply would be ours.  Here we are confusing cause with effect.  We cannot (legally) make money; we obtain it from one of the channels listed above.

Stream 320x240All of these (and other similar streams you can think of) are really channels, and as Rev. Tumpkin reminds us, “channels come and channels go.”  It’s critical to remember this, because the coming and going isn’t always in this order: sometimes channels go before new ones come. Have you noticed that?  In times like those, we must remember not to give any power to the channel, which is the effect. When we look to any person, situation, entity, or channel as our supply, we limit ourselves and give away our power. 

We need instead to turn and hold our attention to the cause or true creator of all supply, the Creator of all.  To carry you forward, I offer these words from John Randolph Price’s The Abundance Book: “Money is not my supply.  No person, place, or condition is my supply.  My awareness, understanding and knowledge of the all-providing activity of the Divine Mind within me is my supply.  My consciousness of this Truth is unlimited, therefore, my supply is unlimited.”

Be Your Best

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

Singles frequently lament that they lack dates because they are overweight or aren’t attractive enough.  I can understand their reaching these conclusions based on the emphasis placed on appearance by the media.  Add to that how easy it is to edit a photo today, and the images of “perfection” we’re bombarded with can be overwhelming.  But take a good look around.  How many supermodels do you see?  Roger and I go to a well-attended singles dance every six months, and what we see there are nice looking men and women, not the images of perfection folks hold ourselves to.

Rollerblading 256x330Studies show that while people notice and are attracted to good looking people, they also find them intimidating. They fear being unable to measure up in the long run and worry that they will be left for someone better looking. People are much more likely to approach and attempt to forge a relationship with an average, pleasant looking individual than a movie star type.

I encourage my clients to focus on being their best in health, appearance, intellect, and attitude.  Here are some of my tips for staying healthy and positive, someone others will want to be around.

  • Stop dwelling on and talking about your ailments and illnesses, and don’t hang around people who make illness a hobby.  Sadly, I saw my wonderful parents obsess over their diagnoses, overlooking the many blessings they still retained.  I vowed to learn from this, and I encourage you to do the same. Focus on and give thanks every day for what you have that’s healthy.  If you left foot hurts, praise the right one!
  • Be as active as possible most days of the week, and strive to do more than just taking a walk, if you can.  Find something fun, such as Zumba or Jazzercise, and make friends in the class.  This will meet your physical need for activity and keep you engaged socially.  Many times it’s seeing their friends in class that keeps people coming.
  • Stop watching the news on television.  If you get the newspaper, just scan the headlines of the news sections. I’ve done this for years, and I promise you that you’ll hear the major news just being out in the world.  That’s all you need to know.
  • Regarding television and the movies and their impact on your frame of mind, I’ll repeat my rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t invite it into your home or life, don’t watch it.  This rule is simple to apply.  For example, do you want yellow crime scene tape around your house?  No, of course not, so don’t watch anything with CSI in the title.  Yes, this rule will eliminate 50% of television and most R rated movies, but your peace of mind will be greatly enhanced.  It will also give you time for the next tip.
  • Read every day.  To enhance learning, spend five to ten minutes writing about what you read, especially if it relates to a behavior change you’d like to make.  In addition to keeping your mind sharp, this practice will also give you something interesting to talk about since you’re no longer discussing your latest ache and pain.
  • Check out your community college for a surprising array of class subjects at an affordable price.  You never know who you’ll meet there, and this will enhance your mental acuity and conversation skills.
  • Practice moderation in eating and drinking.  It’s generally not healthy (and for most people not necessary) to eliminate entire food groups or adopt a boring diet.  Maintaining moderation in all things will enable you to stay well and enjoy going out to most restaurants, making you a more enjoyable date.
  • Trust reliable websites for your health information online, such as WebMD and mayoclinic.org.  Get your routine exams and screenings to be healthy and catch any issues early. 

Finally, choose clothes that you feel good in and accessorize them with a confident smile.  That way you will look and be your very best, and that will be more than enough to face the world.

Overcoming Staff Reluctance (Or Our Own)

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Academic & Career Success, Blog

ComputerHow do we help reluctant staff learn new technology?  What if it’s we who resist embracing new ways?  How can we “get with the program”?  The first thing to consider is that emotions affect the brain’s ability to learn, think, and remember.  Self-doubt, fear, and resistance prevent the brain from doing these things, whereas confidence and interest facilitate learning, thinking, and remembering.  Just accepting Henry Ford’s maxim, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” is encouraging.  Once we realize we can master new ways, we’ll begin facilitating our own learning.

Whether the reluctance is from you or a staff member, determine what the issue is. Help the individual see what’s in it for them when they stay current with technology.  Meet them on their terms.  For example, don’t talk the potential for promotion unless that’s their motivator.  Once the motivation is established, ask the person what helps them learn best.  Is it taking it slowly, personalized training, watching someone else, reading about the process first, or another approach altogether? 

Structure the learning around their needs.  Create an environment that is stress-free, allows for lots of practice, and tolerates errors.  Research shows that most people learn best through trial and error, feedback, and repeated practice.  Please don’t compare this person to others on the team, and discourage them from making such comparisons.  Otherwise you’ll be right back where you began, with fear and self-doubt.  Finally, look for progress and offer genuine, specific praise and encouragement—and don’t forget to do this with yourself if it’s you who is the student.

Finding the “Different Ways or Truer Answers”

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Learning To Receive

Last month I quoted Dr. Scott Peck who said that deep feelings of discomfort bring us to our finest moments, because they propel us to find “different ways or truer answers.”  Just how do we find those ways and answers?  Having experienced my own “finest moment” in the past and again just recently, let me share with you what works for me.

Like you I imagine, when I’m faced with extreme discomfort, I look for relief as quickly as I can.  I like to find a quiet spot with my journal where I write down the questions I have, my feelings about the pain I’m experiencing, and a request for answers and guidance.  I find the answers come in a variety of ways.  It may be through my daily reflective readings, an inspirational post on Facebook, an article in the newspaper or a magazine, or another seemingly serendipitous source.  It’s not unusual to have a friend mention something related to what I’m experiencing or have my minister talk about the very issue I have during her weekly message.  The key is to be expecting an answer to be revealed.  It’s not necessary to seek it out, but it’s essential that we stay alert so we don’t miss it. Yes, I believe that we’ll get another chance (God has infinite patience with us, after all), but not catching the guidance the first time just delays our relief.

One of my favorite experiences for having questions answered is to attend the annual International New Thought Alliance Congress to be held this year at the Embassy Suites in Phoenix on July 15-19.  Each year, at some point early in the Congress, I find time alone to write down the questions that have been lingering with me.  Inevitably, during the week I receive my answers: from the speakers’ talks, a “chance” conversation with another attendee, or an insight that just comes to me.  This process has been so consistently successful that I make it a point now to attend every year.

Finally, if despite your awareness, the answers don’t see to come, enlist the help of a like-minded friend to support you in prayer for clarity, guidance, and peace. Trust in the promise that two are all is takes to engage the flow of good.

How Much Work Should a Relationship Take?

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Blog, Sane Sex for Singles

It’s often said that marriage takes work.  If that’s the case, the same can be said about a relationship.  But what is meant by “work” and how much work should it take?  These are important questions to consider because I’ve seen times when singles think that it’s right and good that they have to work really hard (too hard) at a relationship.

RelationshipSynonyms for work include effort, exertion, labor, toil, grind, and drudgery.  The only terms I’d recommend to have a successful relationship are the first two. Beyond these, I would say the words in the list are increasingly inappropriate.  Hopefully no one would expect to have a relationship be a grind or drudgery, but having given birth, I would say even “labor” is more work than I’d expect on a typical day.

Certainly it requires effort to take the risks and demonstrate the commitment a relationship needs.  There may be sacrifice and putting the needs or desires of our beloved ahead of own at times, which we could call exertion.  When the effort gets so great that it becomes exhausting or a constant struggle, or when we continually acquiesce, we need to reexamine things.  Caring for and communicating with our partner should be joyful and energy-creating and generally not feel like work, but rather an act of love.  Misunderstandings happen, especially early on, but they will be atypical if the relationship is meant to be, not something we’re constantly trying to prevent.

A strong, healthy relationship is worth the effort.  Periodically step back and assess if that describes your relationship: strong, healthy, and worth the effort you put in.  If it is, then you’re doing the right kind and right amount of work.