Clarity Creates Confidence; Confusion Causes Chaos

I invite you to read the title one more time.  I invite you to consider how clarity and confusion affect your relationship with your partner at home. Is the statement true for you?

Carol and I attended a workshop which focused on creating an accountable workplace culture.  Accountability expert, Greg Bustin, shared many gems, such as the title of this article.

He talked about 5 characteristics of high-performance teams:

  1. Clear common goals
  2. Clear roles
  3. Clear deadlines
  4. Trust and respect
  5. Fun

What common theme do you notice about most of these?  Something about clarity perhaps?

Although the workshop was for business leaders, it was affirming to recognize that the exact principles that work in a business environment, work at home in your relationship with your partner.  That relationship can also be a high-performance team.  In fact, that’s how it works best, and it’s where accountability is critical.

With the hundreds of couples with whom we’ve coached over the years, their challenges (and eventual successes) are always rooted in these 5 characteristics, and with heavy emphasis on clarity, which is the result of honest conversations.

Clarity Creates Confidence; Confusion Causes Chaos

Here’s an example of our own:

In the past, dialogue and decisions about finances were delicate subjects for us. Since neither Carol or I enjoy conflict, we tended to only tickle the surface of our thoughts and feelings about money.

We avoided conversations about our financial goals, or how or where money would be generated or invested.  The most ticklish topic was where and how money was spent.

My goal (although I didn’t clearly share it) was that as much money as possible was to be invested back into our business or into assets that would generate active or passive income in the future.  It was my role to generate it and invest it as quickly as possible.  To be asset-rich and cash-poor was clearly the “right way” to do it.

I thought that Carol had a conflicting view on money.  I guessed that she saw money in our bank account as something to be spent – vacations, clothing, gifts, and spontaneous “wants” that were fun to have for awhile, but soon were tucked away in boxes and forgotten.  In my mind, this was clearly the “wrong way” to do it.

You might be thinking that Carol saw it differently.  Yup.

Where was this taking us?  You can bet your boots it wasn’t fun. 

Every time we had a conversation about finances, our trust in each other waned and our respect for each other was damaged.  The quality of our relationship was not what we wanted it to be.

Finally, we agreed to set our egos aside and have honest conversations about money.  We agreed on some guidelines, such as:

  • Love is the answer
  • Be curious
  • Be honest
  • Listen to understand
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • There is no right or wrong way
  • Be aware of feelings, and ask for a brief “time-out” if necessary

We used a flip chart to draw and write, which allowed us to look at situations as a team, and as something outside of ourselves.

As we practiced with this, the trust and respect grew immensely.  We became clearer about our common goals (there were many of them) and were able to set new ones that jazzed us.  We were able to define roles about who was responsible and accountable for different duties and situations.  In some cases, we were able to set clear deadlines for specific projects and establish a process for renegotiation when it was necessary.

This did not happen all at once.  Because we have weekly business meetings, this became part of our agenda.  Because we have a separate personal meeting each week, it became an agenda item there too.  We have had years to practice, and the quality of our relationship continues to grow.  The result is that we both experience greater contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and fun.

Clarity Creates Confidence; Confusion Causes Chaos

What about you?

  • Where in your relationship with your partner is there a lack of clarity that is causing chaos?  Our coaching experience shows that many couples struggle with: money, social activities, recreation, family, work,What do you think? religion/spirituality, personal or professional development, vacations, homes, household duties, etc.  Often it is about creating a balance between some of them.
  • What topic, or topics, do you avoid because they cause conflict?
  • What is this costing you?
  • How long do you want the chaos to continue?
  • When, specifically, are you going to have an honest conversation to create clarity?
  • What will your life look like, sound like, and feel like when you are operating as a high-performance team?

Clarity Creates Confidence; Confusion Causes Chaos

In closing, there are 2 best times to begin having these honest conversations.  The first time was 20 years ago.  The next best time is now.

If you are uncertain, or afraid to start, we invite you to call us. 

We support you to create your relationship by your design, rather than by default.

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