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  • Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: How To Have Successful Relationships | The 4 Habits

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

By Jonathan Taylor-Cummings, Dr Andrea Taylor-Cummings

⭐ Toby's Rating: 8/10 - Recommended For: Leaders

3 Big Ideas 💡

  1. There are four habits that show you how to have successful relationships: 1- Be curious, not critical. 2 - Be careful, not crushing. 3 - Ask, don't assume. 4 - Connect before you correct.

  2. Manage the Emotional Bank Account. This is important to create the foundation for successful relationships. If you make more withdrawals than deposits your relationship will struggle. Keep a healthy balance.

  3. You can explore relationships on two dimensions. Motivation - How motivated are you to maintain and improve this relationship? Ability - How able are you to maintain and improve this relationship?

2 Relationship Quotes 💬

Great relationships don’t just happen – they are built on purpose.

Do I really care enough to put in the effort to maintain or improve this relationship?

Tobys Top Takeaways

This book explores a universal question: How To Have Successful Relationships?

I'm a big believer that habit change is at the core of any change. In order to change who we are, we must change what we do. Therefore the idea of 4 relationship habits was intriguing. I found this book to be very practical and simple. Defining the 4 habits has helped me to immediately put into practice these behaviours.

One specific action I've taken after the book is to make some deposits to challenging relationships I'm having at the moment. I reflected that I'd been withdrawing more than I'd been adding.

For anyone exploring how to have successful relationships, this book will definitely help you.


How To Have Successful Relationships | The Big Ideas Expanded

Focus on building Relationship Intelligence, not only Emotional Intelligence:

  • Relational Intelligence’ – our ability to connect, and stay connected, with the people around us.

  • Emotional Intelligence - awakening (or improving) our ability to handle our own emotions and how they impact on the people around us.

The 4 Habits

There are four habits that show how to have successful relationships

Habit #1: BE CURIOUS, not critical – is all about developing our self-awareness (and other-awareness!) through understanding fundamental differences, learning to give each other ‘space and grace’ to shine in our own strengths, and overcoming the frustration of unmet expectations.

Habit #2: BE CAREFUL, not crushing – is all about self-management, building strong skills in managing conflict, learning to treat each other well no matter how heated the argument, and working toward genuine resolutions so that relationships are strengthened not damaged through conflict.

Habit #3: ASK, don’t assume – is all about developing the social skills to build mutual trust and respect in relationships by clarifying values, having courageous conversations about things that really matter to us when necessary and overcoming the hurdles of mistrust and distance that can creep into relationships.

Habit #4: CONNECT, before you correct – is all about learning to build great rapport, warmth and connection in relationships by consistently communicating appreciation and love in meaningful ways and overcoming the hurdle of feeling unvalued because of poor communication.

Manage the Emotional Bank Account

Successful relationships are built upon a healthy emotional bank account. This idea is also explored in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Emotional Bank Account

You need to be aware of the behaviours that make deposits or withdrawals from the bank account. When you have the balance right it creates a healthy foundation for good relationships.

If you have a challenging relationship focus on topping up the emotional bank account first.

When the bank account is low you need to ask this fundamental question:

‘Do I really care enough to put in the effort to maintain or improve this relationship?’

Successful Relationship Quadrant

The status of your relationships can be viewed from two dimensions:

  • Motivation: How motivated are you to maintain or improve this relationship?

  • Ability: How able are you to maintain or improve this relationship?

Using these dimensions you can identify four relationship categories:

Relationships Quadrant

Most healthy relationships go through cycles between Mutual Satisfaction and Frustration from time to time, which is all perfectly fine as long as you keep learning and improving your understanding of each other and don’t get stuck or set up camp in the Frustration zone.

In Desperation, the oxygen in the relationship is running out and typically people are ill-equipped to breathe life back in again, on their own. Desperation is toxic. Differences are misunderstood, needs are mostly unmet, and the likely experience is one of tension, frequent conflicts and an unending cycle of unmet expectations followed by disappointment, followed by negative reactions on either side, causing the relationship to spiral downwards.

In the workplace, relationships in a state of Desperation can lead to feelings of being bullied. Toxic cultures and low-trust work environments, evidenced by increased stress, relational tension and absenteeism, are often signs that relationships have deteriorated to a state of Desperation.

Ironically, arguments in the Frustration quadrant, are a sign of life. Silence and indifference are signs that the relationship is dying.

The Isolation quadrant is a place where no one wins. People ‘check out’ physically and/or mentally. They leave companies. They leave families. They leave friendships.

Mutual Satisfaction – by choice

At the heart of successful relationships are:

  1. Commitment to ongoing efforts in building your understanding of each other.

  2. Being more understanding in your responses.

  3. Choosing to act and show appreciation in meaningful, specific ways.


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