Phil Gerbyshak’s 90-second Relationship Rule

Conflict Zen Blog by Tammy Lenski

My husband and I have shorthand for communicating about how my day went when I walk through the door in the evening. Since my work is confidential, there’s virtually nothing I can tell him about my day with clients. So he asks, “Is it a wine night? Or…a whiskey night?” Most of the time the question brings a chuckle and an answer, even when I want nothing to drink. It answers the question without answering the question, you know? But sometimes when I walk through the door at the end of the day, I can totally blow it. My evil twin takes over my mouth even while my brain is screaming, Stop her! Stop Bad Tammy before she speaks!

If it was a difficult day it’s like my brain can’t stand not being able to talk about it. So it notices that there’s mud walked into the entryway. Or a little pile of breadcrumbs on the floor. Or, God forbid, cheese that’s been left on the counter. The world is coming to an end! And my brain tells me to address those things instead.

That’s certainly not the way I want to start my evening with my husband. And thanks to my pal Phil Gerbyshak, I don’t have to. I have a quick and simple little approach I’ve been using for well over a year and it’s both easily do-able and magnificently effective.

It’s a plan for just the first 90 seconds after greeting my husband. I can easily subvert Bad Tammy for that long and then she’s gone for the evening. In the The 90-Second Relationship Rule Phil describes the approach:

If you’ve been away from someone you care about at least 2 hours, the next 90 seconds have a bigger impact on them than spending hours and hours on them later. Walk in the door and be fully engaged in the moment. Regardless of your day prepare to focus your energy toward the people that matter most…Investing those first 90 seconds says:

I love you.

I care about you.

I value you.

I need you in my life.

Phil, you’re my hero.

                        author

Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at https://tammylenski.com/archives/… MORE >

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