We all want our relationships to be like diamonds. We want them to last forever. How can we achieve that? Is there a formula that could help us improve the quality of our relationships? In this episode, Stan Padgett shares the secret to having quality relationships with others. The Diamond Relationship Formula allows you to measure the quality of your relationships mathematically, create a plan, and take action to improve them. The quality of a relationship is equal to the quality of questions, communication, and commitment in that relationship. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Tune in to this episode and learn more.
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The Diamond Relationship Formula
Welcome to episode five, The Diamond Relationship Formula. I’ve told you before that I love teaching about relationships. At one point, I wrote a book called UNVEILED: Secrets to a Marriage That Lasts Forever. I also created a course called The Diamond Relationship Formula. The thought process behind it was, “Diamonds are forever. Relationships should be too.” As I was building the course, a friend of mine who was working and helping me do some of the graphics and other things asked me a question that set me back a little bit. He said, “Can you create a way to objectively measure the quality of a relationship?” My immediate answer was, “No. Relationships are touchy-feely. You can’t do that.”
As that thought kept turning over and over in my mind over the succeeding days and maybe even weeks, it finally came to me as an inspiration or revelation that yes, you can. That has always been one of the fundamental problems with trying to figure out how to work on your relationships. Here’s the difference. If you say, “I want to improve myself physically,” that’s very easy to do. On day one, you get on a scale. You take measurements of your body. You perhaps get on a treadmill or walk and find out how far can you walk and at what pace.
You can create objective measurements that will allow you to track your progress. If you’re lifting weights, “How much weight can I lift with good form? How many sets can I do?” You can track that. You can measure it. It’s much easier when we live in a physical or tangible world to be able to set a goal and create a plan around something physical, tangible, and measurable. Relationships typically don’t fit that mold. If you say to yourself as a New Year’s resolution, “I want to improve the quality of my relationships,” what do you do? How do you measure that? We’re taught that a goal has to be specific, measurable, and time-bound. How do you create a goal in the area of relationships?
My friend’s question prompted me. It finally came to me almost in the form of a mathematical formula, QR equals QQCC. Before I explain to you a whole lot about it, what I would like for you to do is get a sheet of paper. I’m going to wait for a minute until you do because this is important. It’s a way for you to see how this works. While you’re getting paper and a pen, I’m going to help you with one other thing.
I’ve talked to you about how in relationships, one of the most critical things is to be honest in a relationship. There are two types of honesty. There is gentle honesty and brutal honesty. Gentle honesty is what you are with other people. You are honest with them always but gently. You try to give them the facts or the truth in a way that is the most palatable and the least painful to them.
With yourself, you apply a different standard. That is brutal honesty. You pull no punches. You make no excuses. You simply tell yourself the truth. Sometimes that means you look pretty good until that day when you look in the mirror after you got out of the shower and go, “Who is that? That’s me. I have to do something about that.” Why? You’re going to be brutally honest.
I’m hoping you got your pen and paper. Here’s what I want you to do. On the left side of the paper in a column up and down, I want you to put QCC. Stack those three letters. For the first one, the formula overall is QR equals QQCC. Here’s how it works. The quality of your relationship is equal to the quality of the questions you ask yourself and your spouse or partner, the quality of the communication between yourself and your partner, and the quality of the commitment between yourself and your partner.The quality of your relationship is equal to the quality of the questions you ask yourself and your spouse or partner, the quality of the communication between yourself and your partner, and the quality of the commitment between yourself and your… Click To Tweet
Let’s break those down. Let’s talk about them individually. As we do that, we’re going to come to a point where I’m going to ask you to put down a number. Here’s what I want you to do. When we get to that point, I’ll tell you what the scale is and what I want you to do. I want you to write down the first number that pops into your head. Don’t think about it. Don’t analyze it. Don’t adjust it up or down.
This is the place where you have to be honest with yourself. The number that comes into your mind instantly when you hear the question is the truth. You’re going to benefit from this. You’re going to be able to learn and grow from it, deepen, enrich, and heal your relationships. You have to start with that honest place. You have to know where you are, and then you can chart a course to get where you want to be.
Quality Of The Questions
Let’s talk about the quality of the questions. That’s a tough one. Tony Robbins has taught for many years that the quality of your life is equal to the quality of the questions you ask yourself. There are good questions. There are bad questions. There are questions that empower you. There are questions that tear you down. Any question that you ask yourself starts with, “Why do you always? Why do you never?” There are very few good questions that have the words always or never in them. Why is that? It’s because that keyword never is virtually true. Is there anything that you have done throughout your life 100% of the time? Can you think of anything?
I look back over my life. At this point, it’s a fairly long period of time. I can’t think of a single thing that I can say I have done every single time. That means the word always doesn’t apply. Maybe it’s easier to come to some things that you have never done. There are some folks who have never had alcohol, never smoked a cigarette, or never used an illegal drug. Those are great things.
Let’s move out of the tangible into the area of your relationships, the things that you say to other people or your partner in particular, the things that you do for them or don’t do, the things that you don’t say, and the very few things that you never do. If somebody says, “You never put the top back on the toothpaste tube. You never put the toilet seat up or down,” it almost can’t be true. You would have to try hard to mess up that consistently. Let’s start with the idea of the quality of the questions.
If you start with always or never, you probably are already in a bad place. Here’s one of the things that I found, particularly in my ecclesiastical responsibilities. I spent a great deal of time counseling women and teenagers. We found that as human beings, we are very often our worst critics. We don’t recognize the good that we do. We don’t recognize the positive qualities that we have, but we see all the others. Every now and then, there’s somebody who doesn’t do that. They never find any fault with themselves. They think that any problem that they have in any area of their life and relationship is other people’s fault, and they didn’t contribute to it at all.
As I’ve told you, I’m not a mental health professional but that is an indication of someone who probably needs to see a mental health professional if they cannot acknowledge any fault of theirs in any relationship failure that they have had. Let’s talk about the quality of the questions you ask others. There are a couple of good examples I can give you. In one of his books, Steve Covey gave an example of a man who was sitting on a subway. When a younger man and two smaller children got on, the young man sat down next to them and seemed lost in his world.
The two younger children were running, being loud, and disturbing this older gentleman. As he thought about it, he kept watching and seeing the younger man saying nothing to his children. He just sits in a stupor. The older gentleman got more wound up. Finally, he couldn’t resist them. He finally turned to the young man and said, “Don’t you think you should do something about your children?” The young man shook his head as if he was coming out of a fog and said, “I’m sorry. We left the hospital. My wife, their mother died. They don’t know what to do.”
Think about the change that took place in the man who asked the question, the instant change in his perception, feeling and emotion. Everything shifted in that instant. He asked a new question, “What can I do to help?” Think about the difference between those two questions, “Why aren’t you doing something with your children? What can I do to help?” Think about the emotional space those two questions came from, and the difference. Think about for a minute the other emotions that the older gentleman was having of guilt and shame, realizing that he had judged unrighteously without having any understanding of the situation of the person who was dealing with an unimaginable tragedy.
We are all dealing with our unimaginable tragedies, as is every single person we meet and interact with every day. What if we were a little kinder to ourselves? We ask ourselves better questions, but what if we were kinder about the questions we asked others or even thought about others and their motivations and situations?
Here’s another easy example. Sometimes in my family, we referred to Florida as the home for the driving impaired. Perhaps we fall into that category from time to time ourselves. I suspect every single one of us has had the experience of being cut off in traffic by somebody who is driving inappropriately, driving aggressively, or perhaps driving impaired, and we are railing about it.
One of the common ones is we all sit in traffic. There’s always one or more who are going to race along the side of the road on the wrong side of the fast lane, wait until the last minute, and try to cut into the turn lane in front of us and a lot of other people who have been waiting our turn patiently. Sometimes we have less than kind thoughts about those people. If we are the ones cutting in, it’s quite likely that there are some other people having some very unkind thoughts about us.
It’s about the questions. Someone cuts you off, cuts in front of you, drives aggressively and maybe comes close to hitting you. You are fuming. You’re thinking things that you don’t want to repeat in polite company. Some of you are screaming those things out loud. I get it. You’re thinking, “They didn’t wait their turn. They cut me off.” You might have listed a whole bunch of bad names. Why did they do that? Maybe you ask yourself the question, “I wonder if that’s a mom with a sick child in the back and she is desperately trying to get to the emergency room.”
Think about the different emotions, and how your emotional state changed instantly from feelings of anger or frustration to feelings of compassion, sympathy, and empathy, “Can I help?” Maybe even say a silent prayer, “I hope that person is okay. I hope they make it to the hospital.” Maybe they’re going to the hospital because they have been called and their child has been in an accident. They have gotten a call that said, “Your child has been in an accident. You need to get to the hospital quickly.” That’s where they’re going. How does it change your feeling? How does it change your state?
Let’s take those external examples and apply them to your relationship. Let’s start with your most intimate relationship with your spouse or partner. If you give them the benefit of the doubt in the questions that you’re asking in your mind, think about how it changes your emotional state and how that will change the way that you interact with them either in the moment or when they come home.If you give your partner the benefit of the doubt in the questions you're asking in your mind, think about how it changes your emotional state and how that will change the way you interact with them. Click To Tweet
Let’s take a couple of concrete examples. You’re waiting for your spouse. They are supposed to either be home at a certain time or meet you at a certain time. They’re 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and then 30 minutes late. No text or phone call. You’ve tried calling them. You can’t reach them. You can have a couple of different thought patterns. I want you to think about how those different thought patterns will manifest in your feelings, your emotional state, and your behavior toward them.
Thought pattern number one is, “They are disrespecting me again. They are always late. They don’t care about my feelings. They think they’re more important than me. They don’t care about my schedule. They don’t know how busy I am. They don’t care how busy I am. They don’t care about me.” You can get that recording playing in your head over and over. Let’s go to the end of that road.
You keep thinking about that process until finally, they show up. With the emotional state that you’ve created, how do you think you are going to react, respond, or treat them when you see them? I have a pretty good idea. I think you do too. Let’s change the story. You had your story playing in your head based on, “Why don’t they respect me? Why don’t they honor my time? Why didn’t they call me?”
What if they get there? You’re going to give them a big piece of your mind, and they just listen. When you stop and run out of steam, and you have raked them over the coals for all of the perceived injustices they have done to you, they say, “I saw an accident where a van got flipped over. I was the first one there. It was a mother and four children. They were hurt. They were bleeding. They were scared. I helped as best I could and stayed there with them until the ambulances, the police, and the people came who could help them and get them out of the car. I’m sorry I was late.”
What do you feel now? You feel different toward them. If you don’t, the problem is you. It’s not them. You also should feel embarrassed, ashamed, and maybe a little unworthy because you judged and jumped to conclusions that were inherently selfish because you had no facts. You had only your assumptions, and they were wrong. Sometimes they’re going to be right, but would it have hurt you during all of those 30 minutes where you were working yourself into a lather to have assumed the best and been grateful?
If you had felt that way, you would have greeted them with a hug, “I’m so glad you’re home. I’m so glad you’re safe. What happened?” They tell you that story and you say, “I am so proud of you. I’m so grateful to be with you.” If they say, “I was playing video games. I was late,” get mad then. That’s fine. It’s a legitimate response, but doing it before you know why they were late is on you, not on them.
That’s the quality of questions you ask yourself and your spouse. You think about that, “What if I simply focused on asking better questions? How can I love and support my spouse better? How can I interpret what they did, said, didn’t do, and didn’t say in a way that is uplifting to me and strengthens our relationship? What if I always assume the best? What if I always see them as the best version? What if I see them as a better version of themselves than what even exists now? What if I see them as their best self even if they can’t?” It doesn’t hurt you. It’s going to make you feel better.
It’s going to give you a base from which to operate to make your relationship better. The same principle applies to you. You can’t be your worst critic. The world will do plenty of that. You have to say to yourself, “I’m going to be better today than I was yesterday. I might make mistakes today. I almost certainly will but I’m going to make different ones. I’m not going to make the same ones again. I’m going to be better. I’m going to choose to be happy and cheerful. I’m going to choose to assume the best about my spouse. I’m not going to be blind to their failings. I’m certainly not going to be blind if they’re cheating or blind if they’re abusing me or my children.” That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s about simply deciding as a matter of your attitude where you can start.
Quality Of Communications
We’re going to talk about the quality of communications. Communication starts with questions but it’s more than that. There are studies that suggest that a great deal of human communication is not verbal. It is in gesture, tone of voice, and touch. It is in responding to people the way they need, not the way you need.
We have talked about this in prior episodes a little bit. Your responsibility when you’re communicating is to make sure the other person receives your communication. They speak Russian. You can’t speak Spanish. You’re going to have to get to their language. That applies to love languages. It applies to communication. You have to understand that each person that you deal with has a different communication style. The amount of effort that you’re willing to put in to learn their communication style probably and should be directly proportional to the intimacy of your relationship with them.
For your spouse or partner, there isn’t any limit on the amount of effort you ought to be willing to put in to communicate effectively with them, but you also have to be willing to tell them how to communicate with you. We all look at things differently. We all communicate differently. We all need communication. We all need affirmation in different ways. My wife loves acts of service. I get way more brownie points from taking the blower and blowing off the driveway around the patio than bringing her flowers.
Gifts aren’t her thing. Acts of service are. It’s my responsibility as her companion to know and follow what she needs. We live down a long driveway in a grove of oak trees, but she likes the driveway clean. Keeping the driveway clean when you live in an oak grove is a fool’s errand. It used to annoy me to do it until I changed the way I was thinking. I’m not cleaning the driveway. What I’m doing is serving my companion. Cleaning a driveway in an oak grove is a fool’s errand. Serving my companion is the Lord’s errand. That’s what I’m supposed to do as her husband and as the man who loves her. It is to serve her because that’s how she feels love. That’s the quality of your communications.
Quality Of Commitment
The last one is the quality of your commitment to each other. What in the heck does that mean? We live in a disposable society. We get something shiny, nice, and new. We use it for a little bit. We get tired of it and throw it away. Unfortunately, over the last 40 or 50 years since we created something in America called no-fault divorce, divorce has been a little bit like disposables. We’re not very concerned about the commitment we made because it’s not working out exactly the way we wanted it to. We will just change it. We will dispose of the old and get new. Somehow the new will be better.
That’s the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. What it means is you ought to spend more time taking care of your own grass. Here’s what that comes down to. We got married very young. Shortly before we got married, my wife said to me, “You don’t have to do this but if you do, it’s forever.” It didn’t take me very long to say, “I’m in. That’s fine with me.”
In July, it will be 47 years since we have been married. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. Whatever days I have left on this planet, I want to spend with her. I don’t like being away from her. I like to travel with her. I don’t like going away for business. I want her to go because I would rather be with her than any place else in the world. She says, “I’m glad you like me because you’re stuck with me.” I’m like, “I’m not stuck with you. I’m blessed to be with you.” That’s part of the idea.
Let’s talk about this formula, how you apply it, and what you can do with it. You’ve got your piece of paper. You’ve got on the left side QCC. The first one is the quality of the questions. Based on what we talked about, I want you to rate the quality of the questions you ask yourself and your spouse from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Write down the first number that comes to your mind.
We’re now going to number two. The quality of the communication between you and your spouse. From 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, write down a number now. Don’t change it. Don’t think about it. The third one is the quality of your commitment to one another. This is the brutal honesty place. From 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, write down the quality of your commitment to each other.
You should have three numbers on the page from 1 to 10 three different times. What I want you to do is multiply those three numbers. If your numbers were all 5s, then 5 x 5 x 5 is 125. Your score for the quality of your relationship is 125. What does that mean? Here’s what it means. If you gave yourself a 10 on all three, quality of communications, quality of questions, and quality of commitment, 10 x 10 x 10 is 1,000. That means you scored 125 out of 1,000.
Some of you go, “My score is horrible. I can’t believe it’s this bad.” The wonderful thing is this scale is a hope scale because it’s changeable, but now it’s also measurable. To give you an idea of how quickly you can change it, I want you to add one to each of your three numbers and multiply again. If you did 5s, you’re now doing 6s. That’s 6 x 6 x 6 is 216. By changing each one of those very incrementally, you went from 125 to 216. You almost doubled the quality of your relationship. You know that there’s still a lot more room to grow and a lot more to get better.
Where you’re starting doesn’t matter as long as it’s honest, and you want to make it better. Now all you have to do is say, “How am I going to do that? Maybe this week, I’m going to work on the quality of the questions that I ask myself and my spouse. I want to be able to say at the end of this week that I’ve changed that 5 to a 6. I’m going to go from 5 to 6 this week. That’s all I’m going to try and do. I’m going to do that one thing. I’m going to focus on that.”
We have talked about this a little bit. Ben Franklin had a system where he would do that with his thirteen virtues. He would work on one each week and then start on a different one. What if you did that all week? Every day, you were intentional about asking better questions to yourself and your spouse. At the end of the week, in that new exercise of brutal honesty, you could say to yourself, “I did better. I went from 5 to 6 on the quality of my questions this week.” That’s wonderful. What’s your goal for next week?
Let’s take the quality of your communications and set a goal to go from 5 to 6. You are going to say, “What do I do?” It depends on what the failure is. It depends on what the strengths are. What it does is it gives you the ability to create concrete ideas or specific things that you will be intentional about every day that week so that you can have the next brutal honesty session with yourself and say, “My communications with my spouse went from 5 to 6. I maintained the quality of my questions at 6,” 5 x 6 x 6 is 180. Just by doing those two things, you went from 125 to 180.
That’s a huge improvement. It can happen quickly. What do you do? I would suggest you do the same thing for the quality of commitment. How am I going to show that? Number one, I’m not going to use the divorce word ever. If divorce is an option, you keep thinking about it. If it’s not an option, then you find ways to make what you have better. It can be done. Take that formula. Think about how that might apply.
Just as you want to set goals in the area of your physical health, you’re going to measure your weight. You’re going to create a plan for both eating and exercise, and specific things you’re going to do and not do. You’re going to measure your weight loss, your strength gain, the inches lost, and all the things that you do in the physical realm. You now have a tool that you can do the same thing in your relationships. You can use this tool in your intimate relationship with your spouse or partner. You can use this tool with your children. You can also use this with your business partners or the people that you work with. You can use this tool in every relationship that you have.
There are people who journal every day. They work on things. They try to record. If you will sit down at the beginning of the week and make a plan to be intentional about at least one of these three areas, this week and every day at the beginning of your day, you’re going to think about it. At the end of the day, you’re going to evaluate it and renew your commitment to it. You’re going to continue to do that every day for seven days. It’s like a pilot. You’re going to have a flight plan in the morning. You close out the flight plan at night or an after-action review is what you call it in the military.
You’re going to test your performance against your intention. You will find that as you continue to do that, your performance will begin to match your intention on a much more consistent basis. Those characteristics, elements, or the quality of your relationships will shift. You don’t get to expect everybody else to do this. You don’t get to expect your spouse or your partner to do it. This is your job. This is your work. When they see your change, they feel that difference.
Over time, they will ask you. There may come a point where you feel it’s appropriate, “Let me share this. This is something I’m excited about because it’s helping me to be a better mother, father, husband, wife, parent, boss, or employee.” Share it because it’s a tool. You now have a tool in your toolbox to help you build the quality relationship you want.You can take a broken relationship and fix it. You can take a good one and make it great. You don't have to spend some time living in the past. Measure where you are and decide where you want to be. Click To Tweet
You can take a broken relationship and fix it. You can take a good one and make it great. It’s up to you. I want you to know that you have a tool in your toolbox that will give you the ability to look forward and measure where you are. You don’t have to spend a lot of time living in the past. You simply measure where you are and decide where you want to be. Now you have a tool to help you get there.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I want you to know that there are about 1 or 2 more episodes I have arranged for a number of guests. I’m getting them scheduled. We will start to have other people so that you don’t have to just listen to me all the time. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend this time with you. I hope that you get something out of it that is valuable to you. I hope that it helps to change your life and change the way that you feel. Have a great day. I’ve enjoyed having you on this episode.