Interview with Certified Relationship Coach, Val Baldwin

One of your popular speaking topics is “9 Crucial Keys to Improve All Your Relationships.” Can you give us a sneak peek at just a few of those and why they are so important?

Absolutely.   I have found through research, 23 years experience in the corporate world, and in my private relationship coaching practice that there are 9 characteristics that people with terrific relationships have in common.  These 9 Keys are essential for your personal and professional life.   The thing is, you can’t change what you don’t first acknowledge so it’s important to be aware of how YOU are personally doing with these 9 Crucial Keys.  Some will come easy for you, other’s you’ll need to constantly work on.  These keys are not rocket science.  We know we should be doing them but most of us need a little reminder from time to time to get back on track and start adjusting our own behavior to build the sensational relationships we all want.

Here’s an example.  The first connection key is called “Walk the Talk.”  This means being a person of integrity.  Integrity means being honest, trustworthy, and doing what you say you will do, no matter what.  Trust is the number one characteristic that is the hardest to rebuild once it’s lost.

I speak to a wide variety of corporations, organizations, and singles and couples groups.  They tell me that one of the biggest problems is the lack of integrity in people today.  Corporations crumble (we all know what happened to Enron), friendships are lost, and marriages are destroyed when trust is lost.  It’s a huge problem in our society.  Individuals with high integrity are considered priceless in any organization or family.

Some people think integrity is not important or it’s old-fashioned.  People whose main purpose is going after the almighty dollar will rationalize their dishonest behavior in the workplace.  People who are self-absorbed will rationalize their unreliable or dishonest behavior saying they are just fulfilling their own needs.

Choose to be the kind of person people can depend on to be true to your word.  Think of people you’ve worked with or members of your family who you feel have high integrity.  How do you regard them?  We’re excited and relieved to have someone on our team who we know will follow through and do what they say. Now think about the words and feelings that come to mind when you’re asked to work on a project with a person of low integrity.  You think they’re flaky and unreliable.  It takes more time to baby-sit them to make sure they are doing their part than to just handle it yourself.  You can see the obvious difference.  Integrity is that powerful.

Integrity is a priceless characteristic and you will be treated with honor and respect because of it.  “Walk the talk” and show integrity in your words, actions and deeds.  Establish high integrity and you will have success in life and with your relationships.

I explain the 9 Crucial Keys in my chapter of the book I co-authored with 14 experts including Stephen Covey and Jack Canfield.  It’s called Speaking of Success:  World Class Experts Share Their Secrets.  Click here to see what the book is about:

You’ve discovered that low self-esteem factors heavily into people not living their best life. How do people develop low self-esteem and, conversely, how can they learn to develop a positive sense of self?

Low self-esteem can develop due to a variety of reasons.  Perhaps you were raised in a family that always criticized you and put you down.  Maybe you are the type who always compares yourselves to others and never feel like you measure up.  People with perfectionist tendencies are especially hard on themselves thinking everything must be done to perfection.  This also results in low self-esteem because it is an impossible expectation that no human being can live up to.

The formula I have developed is a 7-step process to gain healthy self-esteem.  Here is a brief description of the 7 steps.

1. Keep your actions consistent with your values. This means don’t live your life by behaving in ways that are not aligned with what you truly value.   Self-esteem comes from the inside out, not the outside in.  You need to start with this step or nothing else will improve your self-esteem.  For instance if your top 3 values for your family relationships are open communication, love and respect…..are you acting in alignment with this values?  Or are you consistently avoiding touchy topics that need to be brought up and resolved?  Are you regularly showing love to your kids and spouse or being distant?  Do you often talk disrespectfully about some of your relatives yet respect is one of your top values?  You need to live your life in alignment with your values or it will tear you apart inside.

2. Take responsibility for yourself. You and only you can make new things happen in your life.  If you are waiting for others, or change to provide you with good fortune, or with increased confidence, you’ll be waiting a long time.  Realize that the path towards self-confidence is one that you will have to travel.  No one else can do it for you.

3. Begin to experiment with life. Try something new – anything!  The idea is to stretch outside your comfort zone.  The more you do it, the more confident you’ll become.  Go out to a movie alone.  Take a class in a completely new or different area that you’ve never tried before.  Join a new club.  Teach yourself how to repair a toaster.  Testing your ability at new things is a wonderful way to learn that you can rely on yourself.  To be able to rely on yourself boosts self-confidence.

4. Develop an action plan and implement it! Select one area in your life for personal development.  Is it to improve one of your relationships?  Go back to school?  Spend more time developing one of your talents?  Lose weight?  Commit to 3 action steps you will take to get there.  Put these steps on a timeline.  Now implement each step according to your plan – no excuses.  Every small step you take will be a great boost to your self-esteem!

5. Stick with it! When you take on a new challenge, stick with it.  Self-esteem doesn’t come from each thing you attempt.  If it did, one failed effort would bring you back to zero on the confidence scale.  True confidence develops from an increasing belief that you can rely on yourself to take action and follow through – no matter what the result.

6. Act “As If”. If you put off taking action until you have confidence, you’ll never do it.  In the field of psychology, it is known that by changing our behavior, we can change our feelings.  So if you take action, and do so with a semblance of outward confidence, the inward, true feelings of confidence will follow.

7. Find a Mentor. Do you know someone who has good self-esteem and continues to take one new risk after another?  Watch how they do this.  Get the courage to ask them how they do what they do, and ask them for feedback about your action plan and implementation.  Most confident people are happy to help.  They remember the courage and effort it’s taken them to get where they are today.

You have the 7-step plan.  Now go get started!

How can one go about learning their personality style? What are some key areas to tap into?

There are lots of personality tests a person can take like the Color Code and Meyers Briggs.  There are also lots of free on-line tests available for anyone to take.  Just Google “personality tests” and you’ll have several to choose from.

The benefit of taking these tests and sharing your results with your family, friends and co-workers are to learn to understand your differences so you can honor and respect your different ways of seeing things.  This will also explain why some personalities easily frustrate you while others you instantly click with.   This new knowledge will quickly open your eyes as to why you experience many of your common conflicts and how to correct them.  All personality styles have strengths and value.  It’s a matter of realizing these differences so you can both adjust to get along better with others.   It’s one more valuable tool to improve all your relationships.

What are your best tips for taking an “okay” relationship to a level of greatness?

Now that’s a tough question as I have many ways to take relationships to a happier, higher level.  I’ll answer this specifically for couples.    The first key is to remember that all relationships take continual time, effort and energy.  Just like a garden… takes “tending”.  If you left a garden alone after 7 years, what would it look like?  A disaster.  Well it will be the same with a relationship if you don’t continually “tend” your relationship too.   To go from “okay” to great means coming up with some fun, new couples rituals to give it that “booster shot” that all couples need from time to time.

Some ideas could be gaining new communication skills by attending a couple’s workshop or reading a couple’s relationship book together.  Schedule monthly dates where one of you surprises the other and makes all the plans.  The next month, the other spouse takes over.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  It’s all about taking the time and effort in planning and surprising the other partner.  You can start a new connection ritual when you first see each other at the end of the day like a long, loving 60 second hug. Or set aside one evening per week to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual to cuddle, talk and/or be intimate.  Or perhaps reading a book together in each other’s arms once a week and alternating who does the reading.  It’s all about showing each other that you matter and that your relationship takes priority.  Doing these simple, doable things can get you out of the “okay” stage and start remembering why you fell in love in the first place.

What are the 5 love languages that you teach? And can they benefit couples of all types or are there different methods used depending upon where a couple is in their relationship?

The concepts of The 5 Love Languages come from a wonderful book written by Gary Chapman.  All credit goes to this wonderful pastor and author.  It’s one of the most powerful communication topics a couple can ever learn.  I teach these concepts at couple’s workshops and in my private practice and they always respond saying this is one of the most important lessons they have ever learned.

Gary Chapman’s philosophy is that people express and receive love in different ways.  This can cause upset, frustration and confusion with the people you are closest to.  Learn to speak and understand the 5 Love Languages to better express your love as well as feel loved in return.  When put into practice, you and your loved ones will feel more respected, understood and cherished.  This inspiring, transitional knowledge will change your life for the better.  I highly recommend getting this book!

About: Val Baldwin, CPC, is a dynamic speaker, ABC TV personality and certified Relationship Coach. She’s inspired thousands of people across the country with her quick wit and upbeat energy showing people how to build sensational relationships for greater success in life.