I confess – even though I’m mindful of valuing my relationships – I’ve also been guilty of saying, “sorry, I haven’t had a single moment to reply,” and “my apologies for not attending your dinner/birthday/award function…but I’ve just been so busy.”
I’m lucky. Connecting with people comes easily to me. I find it exciting to meet new people and to find out what we have in common. Yet, building a relationship takes time and effort and it’s a shame that many of us often place more value on building new connections than maintaining old, trusted ones – be they business, friendship or family relationships (not necessarily in that order)!
New or old, it’s the care that we take in nurturing our connections that really matters.
Relationships is one of my most important values, and as I mature as a person, I increasingly realise the importance of keeping relationships real, being honest with the other person and showing care by ‘being there’ in whatever way is appropriate to the relationship dynamics.
Show Up As Yourself
People with deep relationships find it easy to communicate and to show the other person who they are from the beginning. They are not guarded and always show up as themselves – not who they think the other person wants to see. This, of course, is the mainstay of any relationship – being open, truthful and real, because without this, how can we trust that the connection is truthful?
I have coached countless middle- to highest-level managers who expressed their doubt about “being themselves” in a working environment – especially when workplace politics and professionalism come into play.
Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or a director of a large multinational, the rule stays the same: if people trust you, you will get the best out of them. Trust is achieved by open, truthful and real communication. While relationships need compromise, trust relies on not compromising the truth in order to satisfy something we assume is needed to maintain the relationship – in a business or in a personal environment.
Of course, relationships are built over time, and with effort, but connections can be achieved in the blink of an eye through an introduction by someone else. Think about it: people refer their connections to people they trust. At the same time, those connections are more open to building a new relationship because it comes from a source that they trust.
Intentions vs. Assumptions
Maintaining relationships is fun if intention is the same for both parties. If we find that our efforts are one-sided, we have to ask ourselves the reason: is this relationship just for a season and is it time to move on, or is there something we can do to rectify the situation? If we have vested a lot of energy and care into a relationship and we value the person, it is worth taking the time to reflect and to plan rectifying actions, but only if both parties agree that it is worth the effort.
A lesson I have learned over the years is to address issues at the moment you sense there is tension. Don’t wait until emotions have built up and harsh words have entered your communication – by then it may already be too late to rescue the situation. Be incredibly mindful of misconceptions, usually born of assumptions. Assumptions are particularly dangerous in the digital world we live in. Make sure of the intention behind that Facebook post or WhatsApp message before getting emotionally tangled up in your own assumptions. Not only can assumptions destroy relationships, but they can also prevent new connections. Who hasn’t allowed incorrect third-party perceptions of colleagues, friends or family to stand in the way of getting to know the real person?
What does God say?
God created people to be in a relationship with Himself and with one another in family, marriage, friendship, society and within the workplace. God wants us to build a personal relationship with Him, to know Him through his Word and by talking to Him as often as we can. I have always thought that spending quality time on something shows I value what I’m busy with and that is also true in building a relationship with our Father. He wants time with us too. He wants to talk to us and not get just a couple of rushed moments to say a quick prayer. Most importantly, He loves us for exactly who we are, so there’s no need to pretend we are something we are not.
While building a deeper relationship with Him, I have learned He wants me to slow down to stop and listen to Him.
Everything in God’s law can be hung from the following two pegs:
- Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself”. Matt 22:37-40.
My challenge to you
With 2020 only a few weeks away, now is a great time to take stock of our relationships; take rectifying actions if needed; and nourish and treasure the deep ones. As you spend time with loved ones and friends during the Holidays, please take time to really BE in the moment and build memories. Also take time for yourself to refresh your beliefs and identify what really brings meaning into your life. It will be of immense value to you as you enter the new year.
Some things to ponder
- Differences in relationships are a good thing – our uniqueness complements the other person.
- Don’t hold on to past mistakes and don’t use them as examples of how new relationships should be.
- Forgive yourself for your role in a broken relationship and trust that with God’s help you will do it better next time.
- Be flexible to change, based on your learnings and feedback.
- Make wise choices within your boundaries to spend time on the things that count.
- Trust God to give you strength and energy in your relationships going forward.