Relationship Coaches Slip Up Too

The truth is, we were going to publish a very different post today. It was in the works for three weeks and it was almost ready to go. But then we got into an argument about it and decided to write this post instead.

The argument was more than a discussion because we weren’t prepared to agree to disagree, but it wasn’t a fight because we weren’t using destructive behaviour either. That said, it was pretty frustrating for both of us.

And to be honest, this happens right before every single one of our articles is meant to be published. We seem to argue about the subject, purpose, wording, and structure of the soon-to-be-published blog post! You can imagine the stress it causes on the team effort and on the relationship. It’s just not sustainable.

Do we consider this a bad thing?

Yes and no.

We definitely think conflict and diversity is healthy as long as it’s inclusive and respectful. We’re not trying to get rid of conflict. Ultimately, we feel our blog posts are better because we’re able to put our heads together.

However, when it comes specifically to editing our blog posts, we’re on the side of the spectrum where debating becomes arguing and it’s just not the kind of inter-dependency we want to create. We’ve tried a few things over the past few years like imposing deadlines, structures, and work flows to “prevent” conflict... but nothing seemed to prevent those last minute arguments.

So, we had to make a change. Hence, this article.

Diagnosing the Problem

After some mindful discussions and reflection in Relationship Zen fashion 2 nights ago, we realized that we were arguing for three reasons:

  1. We assumed that our good habits from our relationship and from work would spill over into all aspects of our Relationship Zen business life. We ignored the fact that when it comes to editing our articles, we slip up!

  2. We approached writing blog posts as a task that we had to get done for the “business”, rather than as an meaningful experience that we’ve chosen to do for ourselves and for others; and,

  3. We weren’t encouraging each other to be vulnerable and to communicate our needs throughout the process.

We were unintentionally creating a psychologically unsafe situation for us. When we feel shame or insecurity, it’s hard to be creative, positive, and constructive. In comes Psychological Safety, as it applies to team dynamics. It’s the idea that we can feel safe taking risks and being vulnerable in front of each other. Google’s research found that this is the most important dynamic for their teams.

A relationship is a team and Relationship Zen is definitely a team. Therefore, we thought we’d try to apply psychological safety to our relationship.

Prototyping a Solution

In her TEDx talk on psychological safety, Edmondson offers three simple things individuals can do to foster team psychological safety:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.

  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility.

  3. Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.

Fair enough.

So here’s the process we’ve tested for this article and what we’re going to continue practicing moving forward:

  1. Approach the blog posts as the personal and intimate co-creative process that it is, and less as a “business task”.

  2. Be very open and invite each other’s critiques and opinions early on in the process, not just at the end.

  3. Encourage each other to be courageously vulnerable and to be curious about each other’s needs and concerns.

That was our epiphany two nights ago! Building psychological safety in an area that’s been difficult for years definitely takes a dose of self-awareness, patience and mindfulness, but it’s worth it for us.

Whether you’re in an intimate relationship with your partner or in a business relationship with your partner, learning about psychological safety might be something you want to do! How might you apply the three steps to your relationships? Is there an area in your relationship life where you could use some of these strategies?

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this last minute post where we expose our writing process and difficulties.

As always, please share your reactions, comments and questions on our Facebook group, by tagging our social media accounts, or by using the #RelationshipZen hashtag.

Sending you love and light,

DL