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When it comes to relationships, whether personal or business, why is it that some relationships are better than others?  Strong, quality, and long-lasting relationships take time and effort to develop.  I cannot speak for everyone else, but what I can share with you are my personal and professional experiences and observations. There are so many aspects involved in having and building a great relationship, but to keep it simple and real, here are my top 5:

COMMUNICATION – This is the top on my list.  Everything we do in our everyday life requires communication of some sort, and every aspect of that requires verbal communication.  When there are money problems in a relationship, it takes communication to resolve it.  When there is cheating in a relationship, it takes communication to resolve it. When a company is in trouble, it takes communication to find out the root of the problem in order to plan, execute, and resolve the issue.  You get the point!  What I learned from Steven Gaffney is that “it is not what you say, but it is what you don’t say” that can cause a lot of misunderstandings, stress, and – especially in business – loss of time, money, productivity, and more.  When you do not get that unsaid said, people will make assumptions based on what they know and take action on those assumptions.

RESPECT – This is so important. In romantic relationships, it means acknowledging and accepting your partner as his or her own being.  You must embrace who they really are as individuals: their thoughts, beliefs, values, vulnerabilities, and all that may be very different from you. By respecting them, you agree not to make judgments, give opinions, or invalidate and belittle them in any way.  This does not mean that you have to agree with them on everything, but it does mean that you need to recognize that those are the traits that make them who they are.  I know this by being an Asian American who was raised with a very strong Vietnamese influence.  In our culture, I think respect probably ranks much higher than education, love, or any other.  When the respect is no longer there in a relationship, it is very difficult to rekindle the trust and spark.  Have you heard about the term “losing face”?  Then you know what I mean!  Most importantly, when you have respect for yourself, you will have respect for others and in return, they will have respect for you.


A Special advice to my male readers:  When you treat a woman with respect in a romantic relationship, it is healthy for her emotional well-being, her sense of worth, her self-esteem, and it fulfills her need for emotional security. That is what most women want – well, at least from my perspective – and when you can give that to a woman, you give her the world.  The result is a loving, nurturing, dedicated, and faithful woman.  Also when respect is there, resolving conflicts will be much easier as well.

HONESTY – This to me is equally important as respect and communication.  There is a lot of talk about being honest in a relationship, but how many of us are really honest with ourselves and with the relationships that we value?  In order to build trust and connectedness in any relationship, you have to be honest, open, and upfront.  What this means is being transparent and bringing up issues that bother us when they arise rather than keeping them inside and stewing over them, expecting the others to read our mind.  Again, one of Steven Gaffney’s famous quotes applies: “time deepens wounds and deepens problems.”  So no matter what, never go to bed angry or leave office upset with your boss or a colleague.  Bring it up, get it out on the table, and be upfront about what is upsetting you.  Don’t let fear, anger, resentment, or excuses hold you back from doing so.

APPRECIATION – “Thank you.” How often do your employers, employees or co-workers hear those words?  Many work extra hours, often for no additional money or perks, and often without the benefit of hearing someone say “thank you.”  Why do they do it?  Because, like you, they want to make a difference in their jobs, and they want to contribute.  Everyone wants to feel appreciated and that they really matter.  In fact, appreciation is so powerful that it affects the bottom line.  People who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to remain in their jobs, which makes appreciation a key factor in employee retention.  Furthermore, sincere expressions of appreciation open the lines of communication and improve teamwork.  (For more on appreciation, email

In romantic relationships, appreciation does not have to be any big elaborate thing.  It could simply be appreciating that your wife or girlfriend is cooking you dinner, giving you a backrub, watching a sports game with you (even though you know she is not a big fan!).  Or it could be appreciating your husband/boyfriend for taking out the trash, doing the dishes, opening the door for you, or simply just folding your laundry even though he did not have to.   Make it a habit to give appreciation often to the special people in your life.

COMMITMENT – Lastly, and one of my favorites, commitment is needed in order to build a quality and meaningful relationship full of trust.   In business, when you make a commitment to serve a client and produce the mutually agreed outcome and desired results for them, it means that you go above and beyond to deliver that service.   It means that whatever the job you were hired for, you have to commit to making it strong and successful with determination and dependability.  In a romantic relationship, it means devotion, dedication, and loyalty.  Which means if you are having issues and challenges, you must not walk away just yet.  If the relationship is important to you, you must put all your energy and effort into resolving these issues, working them out until you absolutely can do it no more.  Then if you do walk away, you can look back and say “I have tried everything I possibly could.”  But make sure to be realistic and true to yourself along the way.  I have heard way too many real life stories and experiences from people who say they held on to their relationships for 10-20 years, hoping that one day a miracle will happen.  Sometimes you have to treat your personal life like a professional project, set a goal with actions and deadlines…get it?

That is it for now.  Are you already applying these five secrets to your relationships?  If so, then you deserve a huge congratulations!  If not,  what is missing?  Why not make a commitment to apply one  of these right now?  Today!  In your life!!!  Share with me your challenges and successes.  I am a student of life learning and I learn by your sharing with me.  Next week, I will share with you my love for travel.  Let’s go to Vietnam, my love, my home country, the place I was given birth in.

A note about the photo in this post: I took this photo at a store in Old Town Alexandria called The Hour.  I wanted to buy it but was told that it is not for sale because the owner likes it, so they let me take a photo instead.  I highly recommend visiting this store if you are in the Washington DC area next time to check out their vintage cocktail vibe!  Very cool!



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