winning relationships

Are your relationships winning? Time to level up and win.

Are your relationships winning?

I’m so happy to share part two of our relationship series on how to have winning relationships. Last week I shared about ’emotional bids’, the fundamental unit of how we seek out connection with others. (If you haven’t read Part One of the series you can check it out here.)


To refresh your memory, we talked about verbal bids (questions, invitations) and nonverbal bids for connection (hugs, gestures and facial expressions, smiles etc.) In this post, I’d like to talk a little bit about how we respond to bids for connection. Because how we respond to others can serve to either help our relationships, or hurt them. Check out these three responses to bids.



In his book The Relationship Cure (2001), Dr. Gottman shares his research findings on the 3 ways people typically respond to the bids of others. We either (1) turn toward, (2) turn away from or (3) turn against others.


Turning Toward Others

When we choose to turn toward others, our behaviors show we are emotionally available, emotionally attuned and responsive to the bids of others. We give our undivided attention to others and we seek to understand their needs and desires.


Turning Against Others


On the other hand, when we turn against the bids of others, our behaviors may demonstrate criticism, contempt, disdain, sarcasm and even hostility. We can often be described as being on the defensive or in attack mode. We may even blame others and engage in fault finding.


Turning Away from Others


Making the choice to turn away from other’s bids, our behaviors can be described as being disinterested, disengaged, or unwilling to give our undivided attention to meet the desires and needs of others. We basically demonstrate by our behavior that we are emotionally unavailable to meet the needs of those around us.




I must admit, I have missed the boat on turning towards others many times, especially when it involved my children’s bids for connection. I recall times when my daughter would make her bids to connect with me and share her day. But I was ‘too busy’  typing away at some research paper and failed to give her my undivided attention. Or, my son would ask me to play LEGOS with him and I turned away from him and engaged in some other task that needed to be done. Three cheers for mom of the year right? NOT.


Although my turning away from my kids was unintentional, it hurt my parent-child relationships by causing them to feel disregarded and unimportant to me. Thankfully they told me how my responses made them feel and I was able to correct them. But it required me to raise my self-awareness AND effort.


As you can imagine, if I consistently ignore, dismiss or reject bids from others, those individuals will eventually stop trying to connect with me. And as a result, I’d find myself in unhappy relationships, and maybe in a state of relational poverty. Talk about not thriving personally or professionally 🙁


But the good news is we don’t have to damage our relationships and create emotional distance with those around us. We can actually improve the quality of our relationships by increasing our connection skills.




Dr. Gottman tells us in his book how we can strengthen our connection skills by:


  • Evaluating how we typically respond to the bids of others (turn toward, away or against)


  • Raising our social awareness by recognizing how our interactions and behavioral responses can actually be hurting our relationships


  • Developing our ability to clearly and respectfully communicate our needs and desires to others AND ask for feedback from others on how they are experiencing our responses


  • Developing our ability to empathize with the experiences and needs of others and listen in ways that show we are available, we care and they matter




When we (1) fail to recognize others emotional bids for connection or we (2) habitually respond to bids by either turning against or away from others–we will ruin our likelihood of experiencing emotionally healthy, happy and satisfying relationships.


And when we bid for connection with others, I’ve discovered it takes an emotional risk–or risking relational rejection. The risk of rejection pales in comparison to the rich and satisfying relationships I have gained as a result of taking of emotional risks for connection.


Bidding for connection takes courage and vulnerability but it is worth it because connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it, there is suffering” (Dr. Brene Brown). If you are someone who struggles with being vulnerable or if you are interested in learning more about the power and benefits of vulnerability, click here.




As I wrap up part two of our relationship series, I wanted to share a few of the questions I use to evaluate how I am responding to the bids from others around me. And although I don’t always get this right, I’ve learned each new day is an opportunity for me to choose to turn toward others in ways that honor and please God. Thank God for His grace and mercy that’s new every morning! Here are those questions:


  1. How do I typically respond to bids for connection made by my spouse, children, friends, and colleagues? Do I typically turn toward, away from or against others? Why?
  2. What bold action/changes can I take today in order for me to turn toward the bids of others in more attentive, engaging and caring ways?




Pay closer attention to the emotional bids others make to connect with you and choose to turn toward them with your undivided attention, empathic engagement and positive regard.




In my next blog, I’ll be sharing some strategies on how to lead our emotions well.


Until next time, be sure to LEAD your mind, body and emotions in ways that turn toward others in LOVE so you can experience relationships that THRIVE!


Check out this video for more nuggets on how to strengthen your relationships

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