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How to Have a Balanced Relationship

Sure, the concept of “bringing balance” or “restoring balance” to a relationship sounds wonderful. But can a relationship ever truly be in balance — and is balance even that important?

In this video, Michael Grinder, the pioneer of nonverbal communication, discusses findings from three relationship experts, John Gottman and Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, discusses ways to build better relationships. Plus, Michael includes an important tip about what to do when the relationship goes out of whack.

How to Have a Balanced Relationship

Read the modified transcript to “How to Have a Balanced Relationship” below.

Michael Grinder here.

I want to talk about relationships and how to have them balanced.

If I may, let me just start off by saying, relationships are never going to be perfectly balanced.

So the question is, how do you increase the balance? How do you restore it when it’s too far out of balance? What a difference that makes.

Two sources that we want to acknowledge. One, is John Gottman’s book, Seven Principles to Making Marriage Work. But we want to go beyond just romantic relationships. We want to talk about balancing relationships in general.

For that, we would go to Fisher and Ury from Harvard University. Why? They talk about the idea, when two people are talking to each other, there are three levels you can talk about.

The three levels are:

  1. Issue
  2. Emotions behind the issue
  3. Relationship

If they’re interested in the relationship, then the issues and the emotions will be accommodated better. If they’re just interested in the issue or the emotions, it doesn’t work as well.

You want to balance your relationships with other people as much as possible.

Now, they’re never gonna be equal. You can’t say, you know, this person makes that much money. So for it to be balanced the other person has to make the same amount of money.

If you’ve ever worked anywhere, sometimes someone will make twice as much money as someone else. It’s a little bit like professional sports. So the quarterback is going to get more money than someone else on that team. But once they’re out in the field, once you report to work, the [salary] is not what’s important.

It’s the relationship.

So how do you increase and restore relationships?

Get to know each other.

Now, sometimes you can find that out by looking at what they have on their desk. Picture of a dog, children, vacation spot they went to. If this person knows about someone else’s what’s on their desk, what’s on their screen saver, that’s relationship.

You don’t need to balance your relationship as much as you have to get to know another person.

One of the ways to do that is, what’s coming up?

So, in my romantic relationship with my wife, Gail, we look at the week, we have a chart, we have a calendar. We know what’s coming. Then at the end of the day, the beginning of the next day, we can say, “Honey, how was your day? What do you have coming up today? How can I support you?”

You’re never gonna balance the relationship equally, but can you maintain the relationship and increase it? That’s what you want.

When you have knowledge of each other and support each other, wow, what a difference it makes.

So the next time you’re stuck on an issue or emotions are too high, you know what the real problem is? You haven’t invested enough time in the relationship.

It’s outside that board meeting that you know each other well enough so that when you’re inside the board meeting, you have trust with each other.

You’re never gonna balance it, but let’s make sure that we increase it, make sure that you have it, and when it gets out of whack.

What if you need to repair a relationship?

One last thing — you can’t talk about your relationship when it’s out of whack. You wait days, sometimes hours are sufficient, then meet with the person and go, “You know, I want to talk to you about what came up the other day and blah, blah, blah. What I’d request myself and of you is that we consider…”

That’s called repairing your relationship.

Michael Grinder here. Come on. Relationships are the key. Make sure you have them. Make sure you maintain them. Make sure you increase them, make sure you restore them.

Enjoy the luxury of knowing another human being. Thank you.

Thanks for reading! For more information on balancing relationships, check out this blog post on how to build a balanced relationship or sign up for our monthly nonverbal communication tips newsletter.

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