In my work in the technology field, we had an exercise we called, “Start, Stop, Continue.” The premise was for individuals to work with their supervisor or manager to decide what they needed to start doing which would enhance their work, what could they stop doing as it relates to the job and what they agreed the employee should continue doing as a best practice. Since I learned that technique, I have found ways to apply it in real world settings and I believe it applies to relationships at every level.
What Can I Start?
It’s important to note the relationship of the words in the exercise. “Start” was designed to be first in the exercise. It was designed this way with the idea of not giving negative feedback to an employee to begin a conversation. In a corporate setting, it’s good to hear that you have value and you can work with someone to decide how we can channel this value in a positive manner for the company and employee. It’s the same premise with a relationship. Ask yourself, “What are three things I can start doing that my mate would appreciate?” Write them down. They can be what you might think are small things, like taking out the trash when it’s full, cleaning out the car or walking the dog. The value we can add by starting to do things we haven’t attempted (even when the attempt might fall short), goes a long way in working together in our relationships.
What Should I Stop?
This will require some introspective, honest thought. Imagine how difficult it is to tell your manager you need to stop doing something they expect they are already paying you to do correctly. Multiply that by ten…this is sometimes how difficult it is to be honest with ourselves when we need to stop doing something in our relationships. I think we need to take the “stop” portion of the exercise in a bit of a smaller dose. Find one thing you should stop doing—and stop doing it—as of now. It could be chewing your nails, ignoring the grass growing in the yard up to your knees, or interrupting your mate in conversation. It doesn’t matter what the “it” is…whatever it is, it must stop. When you have stopped for a few weeks, you won’t miss it, and your relationship will be better for it.
What Shall I Continue?
This is the easiest component of the exercise. The “Continue” component is last because often the most memorable takeaway of conversation is the last thing said. Asking someone to continue is a way of giving true positive feedback. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. If we are aware of something we are doing well and our management acknowledges this, we get praised and we show our self-awareness; both components which make us feel good about ourselves. We have to have the same self-awareness in our relationships. Ask the question of yourself, “What things should I continue?” We should have at least three tangible things to write down and remind ourselves these are a part of what works well in our relationship.
When we put thought and work toward the purpose of growing together and working together, we can see the fruits of our labor. We often take the time to do exercises, trainings and find strategic ways to work at our professional relationships. If we can put the same effort into exercises like this, which make us think of ways to please our mates, we can get the same quality of results in our personal lives just as many of us do in our professional lives.
BMWK – what do you plan to start, stop, and continue in your relationship?