To create peaceful Green Zone Relationships, I ask people to make a list of all their male and female relationships in their personal, social and professional lives and then ask themselves in which Zone do each of these relationships live? In many cases people are pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised with what they find.

Let me share with you my own surprises. A few years ago when I was developing the Green Zone concepts, I made a list of all my friends, which resulted in two surprises. The first surprise was that I had 19 male friends and 20 female friends. My second surprise was that 80% of my male friends were from the East and 80% of my female friends were from the West.

After a lot of reflection I realized that I prefer close friendships over superficial acquaintances. I find it easier to become emotionally close to Eastern men and Western women. Most Western men I met wanted to talk about sports and the stock market which didn’t interest me. While most Eastern women were reluctant to make male friends as they were afraid of the negative reactions of their fathers and brothers, husbands and sons. They were nervous that their family would not approve and their community will judge them harshly. Many Muslim families and communities do not believe that males and females can have platonic relationships.


After recognizing their Red Zone Relationships, I ask people to consider letting them go and grieve the loss. When we successfully grieve our painful Red Zone Relationships, we feel lighter and then we have more space in our minds, hearts and lives for healthy Green Zone Relationships. When I became aware of the Red Zone Relationships of my life, I said goodbye to them. After letting go,I realized how much negative space they had occupied in my life.


In my opinion we need to try to save our Yellow Zone Relationships. It is worth trying to see if they could be transformed into trusting and friendly Green Zone Relationships. I suggest to people to write a letter to Yellow Zone friends to invite them for an honest heart to heart talk. Such a dialogue makes it clear whether the relationship is worth saving or not. After such talk if both parties feel optimistic then they can start a new chapter of their friendship, and if they do not feel optimistic and there is irreversible damage done to the relationship then they can wish each other well and part respectfully, gracefully and peacefully. Such meetings can be painful but most of the times they are worth it.


They are worth keeping and cherishing. I suggest to send a card, letter or email to Green Zone Friends acknowledging what special place they have in our hearts. People need to know what they mean to us.


When both parties recognize that they have a Yellow Zone Relationship and they want to make it a Green Zone Relationship, my first suggestion is to promise each other that they are both committed to create a loving relationship.

Second suggestion is to have regular meetings to discuss problems and review progress.


In my opinion the secret is that friendship is the cake and romance is the icing in a loving relationship.


As a writer and a therapist I believe that words, like people, have their personalities. They also belong to different families. There are Red Zone Words and there are Green Zone Words. Let me give you a few examples. Should, Have to, Must, Never, Always belong to the family of Red Zone Words. When people say,

“You should follow the rules”

“You are always late”

“You never listen to me”,

they create an awkward ambience in the relationship and make people uncomfortable.

On the other hand, Like to, Want to and Love to, are Green Zone words. Similarly the romantic words honey, sweetheart, love, are Green Zone words as they make other people feel special and important.


When adults hear that word they get uncomfortable because they feel as if they are being treated like a child. Should is used by parents for their children. When we use it for adults they can feel insulted or reprimanded or criticized.

To help people understand the impact of the word should, I explain to them that according to Transactional Analysis, all of us have three parts to our personality: Parent, Adult, Child. When two adults are talking and one of them starts saying should, he/she becomes a parent and to continue the dialogue the other adult has to become a child and that changes the dynamics of the communication. When people understand the dynamics then they have an Adult to Adult or Child to Child communication and feel satisfied with their exchange.

It is amazing to see how people can create Green Zone Relationships when they become aware of their personalities and their communication patterns and are motivated to improve their relationships.


Dr. Sohail


  1. Very positive and effective article Dr. Sohail. Thank you for explaining on this issue. The suggestions you have provided in this article to deal with red, yellow and green zone relationships are very effective and seem the only logical way to go forward. As humans, we should definitely first commit to remain in green zone within ourselves and second try to bring our relationships into coziness as well.

    Thank you again for the article.

    1. Dear Jahanzeb, I am glad you liked the Blog. I am trying to share my professional experiences in a language that most people can benefit in their day to day lives. Thanks for your ongoing interest in our Blog.
      Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  2. While pondering the concept of relationship zones it has occurred to me that the paramount factor in interpersonal relationships very much depends on what zone that WE are in within ourselves and how that impacts our relationships. ie. if we are in emotional turmoil, pain, etc. – our Red Zone – we then give off a … proceed with caution … air about us.

    When we are in a Yellow Zone ourselves we are definitely approachable as well as being open to others while being open-mindedly cautious.

    When we are in our Green Zone we are confident and content with ourselves, which translates to the rest of the world around us. Now here’s the difficult part – a Green Zone person that is in the presence of a Red Zone person can trigger a strong sense of jealousness, envy, and even animosity in that Red Zone person. They hate that we are Green when they feel so Red. That is when an astute Green Zone person must switch to the Yellow Zone in order to deal with the Red Zone person. Exit stage left as soon as is possible.

    On the other hand a Yellow zoned person would be delighted to meet that Green zoned person to interact with in a safe, pleasant and symbiotic relationship. Perhaps even bringing them, in the presence of the other into the Green Zone where they would both enjoy one another’s companionship.

    All that being said, when it comes to close family members this is where the dynamics become so much more complicated, confusing and even volatile. We are raised by society to believe that family ties are to be honoured, respected and valued. Its very difficult to deem any family member as Red Zone and eliminate them from our lives. I have had such inter-familial relationships in my life and I do my best to follow Dr. Sohails advice – which is to be socially tolerable of that person. Nod, smile, pleasantly participate socially while maintaining my own Green Zone within while maintaining my Yellow Zone persona. It works! Thank you Dr. Sohail you have saved me a lot of birth familial grief. More to ponder…..

    1. Dear Georgina, I agree with you that the relationships with family members are the most challenging. Sometimes it is easier to have one to one Green Zone Relationships. It is harder to maintain those when the whole family system is in the Red Zone. Thank you for your ongoing interest in our Blog. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  3. This is a great concept and at this stage in my life I first must say my green zone is myself. It took me years to realize I am at peace with myself. I have green zones in regards to my loved ones and really no yellow as hard as that is to believe. If I had red zones I think I have said goodbye to those as they caused me stress or emotional pain. Thank you for all your sharing and all the help you have been to those who need your beliefs in their lives. You are so special and we who appreciate you applaud you!!!

  4. I agree with the concept to hold, the strategy to plan, and the procedures to implement, but disagree with some of the generalizations. Human contacts are a bit more complicated.

    1. Dear Iffat, In my Blogs I am sharing some general concepts about Green Zone Philosophy. In our clinical practice we help our clients to fine tune these concepts and create healthy relationships. I agree with you that human relationships are complex and complicated. Thank you for your honest feedback and your ongoing interest in our Blog. We value your comments. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  5. It is difficult at times, but very important to let go. I found that when I let go of someone it, like magic, opens up room for others. Removing red does not necessarily mean you will be alone, it could also mean that you now have extra time to make new acquaintances, hopefully someone that is more positive in your life. Thanks for communicating your experiences!

    1. Dear DJ, A wise man said, ‘when one door closes, many others open.’ Saying ‘good bye’ in life is more difficult that saying ‘hello’. Thanks for your wise comments. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

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