What if an Air Force Top Gun Instructor Taught You Relationship Skills?

What if you learned relationship skills from an Air Force Top Gun instructor?

Recently I was talking to an Air Force Medical officer about the Top Gun training for their very best pilots.

When the instructors give feedback on performance it is all negative. It is all focused on what they do that is wrong.

Why?  Well, they're an amazing group of pilots. They're smart, quick, confident and competitive. Most often, they do things right. But that's what is expected of them. So the feedback they get is always about how they screwed up.

I thought this could be very instructive for couples and families.

Whether or not this is the best approach, I don't know. I do know our best pilots can match up with any in the world.

I was curious about their personalities and asked about it. The response I got was pretty much what one would expect: extreme confidence and swagger.

But there was one element of their personalities that surprised me. The medical officer said most of them had pretty poor interpersonal skills.

Do you think there is a connection between getting massive doses of “You screwed up again today” and poor interpersonal skills? I think there is.

This may be a small price to pay for the crucial job of protecting our country. So if you have a budding Air Force pilot in the family, you might want to prepare him/her for the road ahead with tons of harsh feedback.

If not – if you want to encourage strong interpersonal skills, communication, understanding and intimacy – remember to focus on positive feedback. It is proven to be more motivating than criticism in bringing about change in relationships.

And it's summer. Make time for some fun together.

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Peter Pearson, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader. Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple. Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

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