Have you ever wondered why you’ve been really close to someone, and then after a few years you realise that you’ve grown apart? Or maybe you wanted to have a closer relationship with somebody but never really known where to start. You may have even had relationships break down and don’t know where to begin with rebuilding them.
People aren’t stupid. They can tell if you are insincere and if you are looking for shortcuts on how to get what you want from them. If that’s your approach, forget it! You would be able to tell if I was using you and if I’m only talking to you to ‘get something’. Dale Carnegie summarised that the best way to ‘Win Friends and Influence People’ is to stop pretending and look to build genuine relationships.
Let’s look at the bare mechanics of building good relationships.
Building true value in relationships is about sincerity.
You begin a relationship with every person you meet. Some you cannot avoid, like siblings or colleagues. Others we choose, like friends or personal relationships. We are complex beings with elaborate emotions and as a result we can run into all sorts of problems.
Have you ever said something which you thought was casual only to find it hit a nerve with somebody? It’s because our emotions range in the thousands, and the way we connect and interact is perhaps beyond that number. Despite the complexities, there are simple truths that can help us all build a foundation for moving relationships forward.
First of all, there are barriers to break down, and they can range in difficulty depending on the person. Some people are incredibly insecure and emotionally fragile because of past experiences. Sometimes fragility is obvious, and at other times it is wrapped up in a plethora of defence mechanisms.
Regardless of some of the hurdles you face when trying to build deeper relationships, you have to accept that not everybody will respond positively to you. We can control our actions and responses, but we don’t get to control other people. You need to accept that some people are too reactive, or too dissimilar or too removed from your mindset. As a result, you can relax and feel less guilty, and in some cases less hurt if a relationship doesn’t go deeper.
It seems like some relationships, get stuck, some thrive, and others go bust. Could anything prevent it from happening? You may even wonder why some friendships just seem to click and work. The answer is that we all have relational and emotional value that we deposit and withdraw in each other’s life.
Stephen Covey wrote about ‘Relationship Bank Accounts’. It’s a great picture of how our time and efforts appear in our everyday relationships.
Covey says that when you meet someone for the first time, you open an ‘emotional account’. From that point on you make metaphorical deposits and withdrawals. These amounts can depend on how well you connect with a person or how much you clash with them.
Let’s say you’ve met somebody for the first time. You seemed to like the same things and spent several hours talking about them. You have made good opening deposits and as you both become more vulnerable and share significant experiences those deposits increase. If one of you betrays the others trust, mishandles the others emotions or behaves unreasonably, then it’s like making huge withdrawals.
Some relationships will have more emotional and personal ‘bank’ in them than others. It may be that a relationship is so emotionally overdrawn that it could take years to bring back the emotional balance.
Building true value in relationships is about sincerity. You can’t fake it. When you start to recognise that we make deposits and withdrawarals through our words and actions, you start to notice why some relationships seem more fragile than others.
Relationships are about healthy deposits. Reflect on your best and worst relationships. Where are the deposits that need to be made?
Maybe the best deposit is to leave well alown during a painful time. Perhaps another deposit is to reach out to someone who you haven’t spoken to in some time.
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