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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How to be a Smart Zone Guy in Relationships

I was speaking at a conference in Atlantic City recently and during the banter of my presentation (okay, sometimes we get off topic), I gave a tip about Valentine's Day for men. Apparently that tip proved valuable since I've gotten a few emails telling me that what I had to say made sense. I'll take that compliment.

In my presentation I was talking about "forethought" and "intention" and how important it is in work relationships. People you manage and your coworkers don't always remember what you say but they ALWAYS remember how you make them feel.

I used a more personal example to make the point and it seems I gave advice that was better than that of Dr. Phil (yikes!). I told the audience, made up mostly of men, that flowers on Valentine's Day mean less if a man goes on the day, to the tent, in the parking lot of their local grocery store, and buys flowers for his sweetheart - sometimes not even having to get out of his car. It is not the flowers that count. It is the forethought and intention in giving the flowers that will lead to sweetening the relationship with a sweetheart. Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday in 2012. That means that a man has the opportunity to order flowers to be delivered on Monday morning, February 13, for his sweetie if she's in an office. That way, when they are delivered, she is envied by all when she gets flowers EARLY so she can enjoy them all week long. It shows forethought and intention that someone had to think ahead and realize that an early delivery is better for making someone feel special just like a new kid bringing cupcakes to school the first day. Deviating from my usual business advice, here are tips for men on how to be a "True Smart Zone Guy" in relationships (you can thank me later ladies):

  1. Make sure you look at her when she talks to you. Do you believe some people need to be reminded? This is a good reminder for men and for women at work and at home. That means keep the iPhone, Blackberry or Android in your pocket and resist the temptation to check it multiple times during your conversations.

  2. If you are good at being nice to everyone, then the woman you are with will need to know that her relationship with you is different from the rest. I've had couples dating and married couples talk about needing to have their partner bump it up a notch in their primary relationship. This isn't usually about jealousy or insecurity. It's about continuing to differentiate your main relationship with relationship dynamics that create a "we'ness" with behaviors and not just words. Consider for yourself how this can be beneficial in your work environment with your business partners, clients, and members of your team.

  3. For some men, texting and emailing are good enough for communication. Oh no. Say it isn't so. The spoken word or even a handwritten note still carries a punch when it comes to making a valuable deposit in a relationship.

  4. Make sure you introduce your girlfriend or wife (you better not have both or there will be much bigger problems) to people by her first name, rather than just her title of "wife" or "girlfriend". Men don't overlook this on purpose. They tell me that many times it doesn't occur to them and they don't mean it as an insult. It is just an oversight. Well - the way you prevent oversights (which my friend Amber and I think are poor excuses) is you get intentional and "engaged" in your relationships - both personal and in business. Find out if your relationship could be heading for destruction.

  5. Even though you might be a good problem solver, not all problems need to be solved. Sometimes women talk about a dilemma or a challenge and all they want is to get it out so they can solve it, not to have it solved by someone else. Acting in the role of problem solver in a relationship, ultimately can make a man seem controlling or unemotional. Most men that I meet are not controlling and are pretty good at emotions. But, over time, when men take on this role of problem solver, they shape their image in a way that sometimes is at the expense of a woman being able to have room for her own successes and mistakes.

I know the men at the conference in Atlantic City last week understand these points and are already fully functioning in their relationships. The banter during my presentation brought to light ways that a man can not only be Mr. Nice Guy, but also he can be a Hero by using forethought and intention. Valentine's Day isn't for four months but it is worth thinking about now...and isn't that the ultimate in forethought and intention guys? More importantly, it will help keep your relationship functioning in the Smart Zone.

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