As a Holistic Health & Lifestyle Coach, I work with individuals to help them reach their goals and overcome blocks and obstacles in their way. Want to know a huge and very common obstacle that gets in the way of productivity? Unhealthy relationships!
It doesn’t matter how good you are with your planner, time management, or habits. It doesn’t matter how healthy you eat or how fit you are. If you don’t get a handle on cultivating healthy relationships in your life, you will lose a lot of time, energy, and faith.
As people who want to embody the Barakah-mindset, being God-centric instead of ego-centric and focusing on Allah’ pleasure & acceptance of our work and life drive us urgently to mend our relationships with others.
Allah Almighty says:
“The believers are brothers to one another, therefore, make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah, so that you may be shown mercy.” [Qur’an 49: 10]
And the Prophet said, narrated AbudDarda’ who said that
The Prophet said: Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than fasting, prayer and almsgiving (sadaqah)? The people replied: Yes, Prophet of Allah! He said: It is putting things right between people, spoiling them is the shaver (destructive). [Sunan Abi Dawud]
So, in this article, we’ll discuss 3 things people in healthy relationships do and what you can learn from that.
1. Respectful Disagreement
It is healthy to disagree. We need to understand that conflict and disagreement are going to happen in life. Some people are very averse and resistant to conflict. No one is saying you should enjoy conflict or hope for it. It is, however, important to welcome it when it’s needed.
In this imperfect world, there is conflict. When it comes up, you can either have a healthy and respectful relationship with it or you can have an unhealthy relationship with it.
In the following hadith, the Prophet showed how two people can both be right even if they have seemingly different positions.
Narrated Ibn Mas`ud: I heard a person reciting a (Qur’anic) Verse in a certain way, and I had heard the Prophet (ﷺ) reciting the same Verse in a different way. So I took him to the Prophet (ﷺ) and informed him of that but I noticed the sign of disapproval on his face, and then he said, “Both of you are correct, so don’t differ, for the nations before you differed, so they were destroyed.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]
Actually, an individual who aims to have respectful disagreement sees conflict as three things:
A growth opportunity
As human beings, we can be stubborn. That’s okay. However, those of us who are committed to living a more productive Barakah-life understand that we must get this in check. It’s problematic when someone allows their stubborn mentalities to stunt their growth.
All disagreements invite each party to view things from a different perspective. Even if you do not agree, being able to communicate with respect will inevitably foster growth.
Please note: The only time conflict is not a growth opportunity is in an abusive relationship, which can occur in intimate relationships as well as professional relationships.
A connection opportunity
A lot of times individuals who are in conflict end up further apart after the conflict.
However, if each party is willing to be respectful, conflict should result in a connection. Conflict can bring you closer together.
Let’s use a marriage relationship for an example. Let’s say one spouse brings up a concern (you’ll see an example of this later on in the article). First of all, no one enjoys being put on the spot. It’s in our nature to feel uncomfortable when someone brings up a concern that may require us to look inward.
It’s really important to remember that these are opportunities to grow closer to our loved ones. A spouse who tells us that they have a concern isn’t saying they hate us or that we are terrible. They are actually saying “I need you to love me better in this way”.
It’s coming from a desire to gain closeness to you.
Please note this example would not apply situations where force, abuse, and vulgarity is used. That is never okay. This applies when a spouse is bringing up a legitimate concern that they want to be addressed. If the other spouse becomes defensive, now both spouses are on opposite teams.
There is not a chance for connection. Once the spouses are on opposite teams, toxic behaviors may ensue and the conflict may unwind to be a bigger problem than it needs to be.
But. if we viewed conflict as a connection opportunity, this can be avoided.
A taqwa opportunity
For those who believe that we will be held accountable for each action by Allah , then really anything and everything is essentially a taqwa (God-consciousness) opportunity. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make mistakes or that we need to be perfect. It’s not difficult to be easy, and loving, and compassionate, and respectful when things are going your way.
It’s much harder to be respectful when it’s at odds with what you want.
Healthy disagreement is a chance to see a new perspective and balance. We are told we will be tested in the Qur’an:
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” [Qur’an 29:2]
Some Practical Tips for Respectful Disagreement
- Don’t interrupt the person speaking
- Listen to understand, not to respond. Unfortunately, most people listen to respond. Here are some signs for both:
- Signs that you are listening to respond:
- You cut the other person off before they finish talking
- You immediately start talking about your point or agenda without taking a moment to connect with what the person just said
- Signs you are listening to understand
- You give the other individual time to talk and you do not rush them or cut them off
- You apologize if you do cut them off and you change your behavior
- You ask follow up questions to better understand them
- Signs that you are listening to respond:
- Be willing to meet someone emotionally, even if you do not meet them logically
- For example, let’s say your teenage child wants to go somewhere with someone that you do not approve. You know that the environment is not healthy for them and you know there will be great harm that is not age-appropriate to begin with. It would be helpful to practice empathy, put yourself in their shoes, try to envision why they want to go, and then communicate to them that you understand why they want what they want. This is what it means to meet someone emotionally. You can still logically disagree and even put your foot down (without being a dictator). A lot of people are afraid to emotionally agree because they think it means they are giving up their stance.
2. Self Responsibility
You are responsible for you. On the Day of Judgement, the Day when there is no shade but Allah’s shade , we are only going to stand up for ourselves. No one can do anything else for us. We cannot blame people for the things that we do or the things we are responsible for.
So how to practically foster self-responsibility?
- Do not blame other people when they confront you with something you’ve done
- At the same time, do not let others take advantage of you
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
In order to bring this to life, I’ll share two examples of self-responsibility between husband and wife. One example will portray poor self-responsibility. The other will portray healthy self-responsibility.
For the sake of fairness, I will label it as spouse #1 and spouse #2 to get the point across that either spouse can be the husband or the wife.
A fictional example of poor self-responsibility between husband and wife:
Spouse #1: The other day when we were at your parents’ house, you told your family about my bad review at work, it really upset me. I asked you to keep that private. I feel disrespected and embarrassed.
Spouse #2: I didn’t mean to. You’re making a big deal about this. Plus you did the same thing to me before with your sister.
Spouse #1: I already apologized for that. I’m telling you this makes me feel disrespected and embarrassed.
Spouse #2: You know how my mom is. She got it out of me. It’s not a big deal. They would have found out anyway. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.
A fictional example of healthy self-responsibility between husband and wife:
Spouse #1: When you told your parents about my bad review at work, it really upset me. You told me you’d keep that between us. I feel so disrespected and embarrassed now.
Spouse #2: I am so sorry. I immediately realized I shouldn’t have said anything. I am sorry for both betraying your trust and for not coming to you to apologize. As you know, my mom is really good at prying information. Even so, I am totally responsible and should have kept my word. How can I make this right?
3. Team Mindset
When you are communicating, you want to be working on things as a team. When we communicate, we are working as a team. If there is a problem involved, it’s not you versus the other person. It is you two or you three, etc, versus the problem.
Practical action items/tips for team mindset
- Pay attention to your tone, words, and actions. Are you being defensive?
- Don’t have a “war-like mentality in a non war-like setting”
A fictional example of a poor team mindset between business partners:
Business Partner #1: I reviewed your new product idea. I don’t think it’s a good one. I think we should go with my new product idea since I invested more money in this business than you.
Business Partner #2: I know you invested more money, but we are equal partners as per our agreement. Actually, I conducted some market research and my product idea is a hit. Can we have a meeting to discuss?
Business Partner #1: I already sent my product idea to the manufacturer. Sorry.
A fictional example of a healthy team mindset between business partners:
Business Partner #1: I reviewed your new product idea. I have one too. Can we set up a meeting to discuss our concerns and come to a team conclusion?
Business Partner #2: Yes. I was also thinking we can conduct market research to get objective feedback outside our knowledge.
Keep in mind that if you struggle with anything mentioned, behavior does not change overnight. Focus on awareness and behavior modification. Here are some questions designed especially for the Productive Muslim company readers. Use them to reflect on the knowledge you’ve attained in this article. May Allah bless your relationships, personal and professional alike!
- On average, approximately how much of my time is sabotaged due to poor communication?
- Less than 1 hour per week
- 1-3 hours per week
- 3+ hours per week
- What is your relationship to conflicts?
- I avoid them like the Dajjal
- I sometimes avoid them and sometimes embrace them
- I view them as growth opportunities
- In your personal relationships, do you take responsibility for your actions?
- In your professional relationships, do you take responsibility for your actions?
- Would you have more energy if your relationships mirrored the tips in this article?
If you’re looking for a place to practically learn more about the Barakah values and mindsets, then check our Barakah Academy.
The Barakah Academy is your online platform to train with professionals who want to learn practical personal and professional development skills that are faith-based and linked with the latest research and science. It’s your global community of like-hearted professionals who want to live a better version of themselves spiritually, physically and socially.