Are you in a relationship that could use a tune-up? Maybe you’d like to communicate better with your spouse, partner, teenager, friend, co-worker, or boss.

Most of us have (at least) one relationship that we wish were better, more open, or less frustrating.

One powerful way to improve your relationship is to take a step back and give your relationship a communication tune-up.

To start your tune-up, you need to look in the areas where your relationship may be stuck.

The Stuck State Cycle

It’s much easier to communicate the way you always have and blame the recipient for not understanding, not trying, or not cooperating.

Doing things the way you’ve always done them and expecting different results can get you into a ”stuck-state cycle”. That’s what happens when things aren’t really going well but you keep repeating the same behaviors. You may expect something different to happen, but it doesn’t. You’re stuck in a place that gets you absolutely nowhere.

For example, if I continue to get the same negative reaction from my boss when I complete a staff report, maybe I need to ask for clarification on how she wants it done. If I continue to argue with my husband because he thinks it’s imperative that the left side of the sink is NOT for stacking dishes, but I refuse to find that important and continue to stack anyway, maybe we need to talk about a plan for doing something different.

The illustration above shows how we can into a stuck state -and how to get out of it.

Find a New Way

We need to find a new way to react to the situation to get out of the cycle of ignoring instructions, stacking dishes on the wrong side, arguing about whether that’s important, and round and round and round. Staying in a stuck-state cycle can make you a little crazy after a while.

Take a minute to PAUSE, make a different choice and try a new way. For example: say or do something differently, use more positive body language, declare a “do-over”, and look at the situation through a different lens – maybe even considering their perspective differently. The bottom line is if it’s not working, stop doing that behavior. If it is working, do more of that behavior.

Keep in mind that you can only change YOU. You can’t change anyone else’s behavior, but you can change your response, your reaction, and what you do next.

Where are you stuck in your communication with your relationships? What steps will you take to get yourself un-stuck?

If you want nothing more than to get out of the “stuck-state cycle”, consider scheduling a free consultation with me. I offer both individual, group, or partnership coaching. I would love to work with you and help you meet your communication goals.

Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.