Relationships can be the best aspect in our lives or the worst aspect of our lives. Regardless of whether we are talking about a relationship with a friend, lover, parent or boss, all relationships require the same skills to get along. Not surprisingly then, there are certain characteristics that can make any relationship difficult for even the most relationally skilled person.

Look at the list below to see if you are making your relationships more difficult by incorporating any of these negative characteristics into your interactions.

1. Defensiveness: If you often get short, deny any truth in what a person is saying or try to turn their complaint about you onto a complaint about them, chances are you struggle with defensiveness. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to solve a problem with someone who is constantly on the defensive. If you’re unable to hear someone’s critical feedback--work on hearing people not defending yourself. Eventually people will stop telling you what they don’t like and instead start looking to others to be in relationship with—you’re just too difficult.

2. Silent Treatment: The idea that you shouldn’t make waves or you should avoid conflict at all costs is a very costly idea. When you silence, you shut down all possibility of repair. When you then try to forget about the issue you shut down about, you are building up a reservoir of resentment in you and in the other person. Silence is rude, non-relational and the fast track to anger and resentment. Step up and step in—don’t ignore.

3. Withdrawn: If you are the quiet type who doesn’t like to talk, enjoys to be in their head and gets annoyed when others try to have a conversation—live by yourself. If you’ve chosen to be in a friendship or relationship, then part of that choice is to add to the relationship by sharing your thoughts, feelings and ideas. It gets really tiring to always be the one responsible for holding a conversation. Learn to talk if you want to stay in your relationships.

4. Reactive: If you get intense over the slightest upset, bump in the road or set back, life is going to be very difficult. Learn to take a breath, slow down and think before you react. Stop the rage, yelling, screaming, bullying, threatening, blaming etc., and control your reactions. It’s no fun to be around a ticking time bomb. Control yourself and stop being unsafe to the world.

5. Dishonest: Regardless of whether you tell direct lies or lies of omission, the impact is the same—mistrust. If you’re ducking in your relationships by omitting key truths and information, you’re out of integrity. If you’re lying directly, you’re out of integrity and not trustworthy. Clean up the lies.

Relationships can be hard work. What you bring to each relationship in your life is a huge contributing factor to the level of difficulty. Don’t blame others for difficulties if you haven’t cleaned up your side first.

CHALLENGE: Look over the list above with an honest eye. Choose the one characteristic you struggle the most with and clean it up. Pay attention to any shifts you notice as a result.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Merlo-Booth is a relationship coach with over 15 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. She has worked with individuals, families and couples on a variety of life issues.

She earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pepperdine University in 1991 and has received her coaching training from Coach University. Lisa is the Director of Training for the Relational Life Institute owned by the renowned author, Terrence Real.

Check out Lisa's blog on relationships at