September 12, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
The relationship. We all have them. We all want them, at least the positive ones, anyway. They are as important as breathing, death, and taxes.
In a perfect world, there’s a mojo to a relationship. A flow, a mutual respect and positive impact. Why do we get into them? Is it only to benefit ourselves? Would you continue with a relationship if it were stagnant or becoming unhealthy? Just ask our best friend Google, and she’ll (Assuming it’s a she…) tell you 320 million ways to do it!
Isn’t it interesting that something so important in our lives isn’t even taught in school? When was the last time your sixth grader came home and mentioned he’s got homework from his relationship class? I know there are courses available in high school and college, however, few are mandatory. It’s a subject that fields of interest such as sales, human resources, retail, the restaurant business, managerial, politics, and every job you can think of needs to be better at!
Yet, seldom taught. In every vocation. Student especially included!
Check this out – At the University of Madison in Wisconsin, caught the wake of many sexual harassment claims, decided to make a “relationship” class mandatory training. The mandatory, in-person seminars cover everything from dating violence to how to support a victim of sexual assault.
Sounds more like an awareness class to me. A couple things, though: #1, that is sooo not what I’m talking about, and #2, it reminds me of yet another one-liner my dad threw at me on occasion… “That’s like closing the barn door after the horse gets out!” I would think, to get better at cultivating positive relationships, one might not want to wait until something detrimental happens, eh? I’m amazed at how cavalier we all are about the value of our relationships, and the skills to cultivate beautiful ones.
Right before our eyes we are getting more and more disconnected. The value of our relationships rests on the printed word such as a text message, email or social media blast. I wonder how we’d feel if we found out that the face-front camera in our phones was constantly on and broadcasting to the world 24 hours a day? Hmmm…
Let’s be honest here. There s nothing more important than our relationships. We’ve all had them go south. We’ve all had relationships that move us to a better place, too. Have you heard the mantra, “You’re the sum total of your five closest friends…?” A popular quip in the business world and morphed into a few different revisions, as well. Somewhat self-serving, I think; but what’s really wrong with cultivating relationships that impact you in a positive way?
Stay with me now… Saying you are the sum total of your five closest friends or cutting the fat of relationships that are toxic in your life is great in theory, yet it puts the onus on the responsibility of the relationship on the other person. Are we just involved with a particular person in business, friendship or intimately for the purposes of our self-serving ego? Are we only in it for our own personal gain and to see how much life we can suck out them? Can we at least learn from it?
Again, a society that has virtually no training on the value and proclivity of creating beneficial relationships, one might suggest we get what we’ve put into it, right?
Instead of looking at any relationship as what you can get out of it, throw a bucket of water over your head and when you dry off, look at relationships as the perfect (and only) opportunity to share your unique gifts. No matter how you look at them, relationships are the only way you can truly exist, anyway. You could dart off to the closest deserted island and fend for yourself like Tom Hanks did in the movie, Cast Away, yet we all remember that before too long, he was his own dentist and talking to a volleyball!
“Relationships are the perfect opportunity to share your unique gifts.” TweetThis!
I’m not saying you need to stay in a toxic relationship – quite the contrary. A relationship is a symbiotic association. You’re in it because you wanted it. If it’s not what you like, define what it should be first. Okay… Enough focus on what we can squeeze out of, or how a particular relationship will benefit us and let’s focus on how we can be of service and share our unique gift to move the relationship to a better place. Besides, what good is a gift if you don’t have anyone to give it to?
“The only way relationships can grow is if you give to them.” TweetThis!
To move in the direction of more fulfilling and mutually happier relationships, here are a few things to think about:
- Get in the habit of asking, “How can I help?” Or, “Is there anything I can do?”
- Practice asking questions about your friends and business associates.
- Be curious and learn what makes them happy and fulfilled.
- Grow out of only print communication and call them or treat them to coffee.
This is basic stuff. If you’re growing your business relationships, then you’ll need to learn as much as you can about them so you can better share your gifts and help them. I personally use a checklist of 40 items I’d like to know about my clients, but there are some that suggest more. Like birthdays, anniversaries, kids and pets names and schools, interests for work and play, what they are reading, common interests, and much more.
Have you been named in your clients will? Participated in your clients’ wedding? Pick up their kids from school when they’re in a bind?
Don’t let the business thing be your excuse. Make a concerted effort to learn more about your friends and family, too.
Do ya feel me? What gifts do you bring? How important are you in the eyes of others? Each of us has a beautiful thing we bring to the world and building and cultivating positive relationships is the only way everyone can enjoy the fruits of the harvest.
Maybe it’s time we plant a few more seeds!