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WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
chapter 3
Healthy Relationships
 

Your personal, social and professional success depends on the quality of the relationships you create with others. Some relationships are fleeting while others last a lifetime but they all reveal your true inner character.
Relationships are the bond two or more individuals have with each other. You cannot physically see this bond but it exists like a form of electricity with positive or negative charges for the people involved.
Relationships between two people are also like bank accounts. Everything you do with another person either adds or subtracts to the balance in your mutual bank account. If most of your behavior, statements and interactions with another individual are negative, it will not be long before your mutual bank account is closed down.
The reality is that you can only accomplish so much on your own. A great deal of what you do in life depends on your ability to get along well with others and to create, build and maintain healthy relationships. This is not something that happens by default or by accident. It is up to you to take responsibility for determining the quality of the relationships you experience throughout life.
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of “the golden rule” of Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This should be your governing principle in all relationships.
There are two other key factors in having healthy relationships with others — the extent to which you think and act as a relationship booster and your skill at personal communications. Everything else, including how the other person behaves, is entirely secondary.
Remember that no one is perfect. Everyone, including you, brings strengths and weaknesses to a relationship. You also have to have reasonable expectations about your relations with others. Your objective should be to enjoy healthy relationships. Perfect ones rarely exist.
Relationship Boosters
Relationship boosters are individuals whose attitude, thoughts and behavior generate positive, happy emotions on the part of those with whom they interact on a daily and regular basis. Such individuals automatically vitalize people as opposed to dampening them.
Relationship boosters are easy to identify. Such individuals have these common characteristics:
  • They are enthusiastic and positive in what they do and say.
  • They have a sunny, optimistic, friendly disposition.
  • They have an easy, relaxed sense of humor and do not take themselves too seriously.
  • They are “givers” in that they openly give and share of themselves with others.
  • They are genuinely interested in the well-being of others and are sensitive to their feelings and needs.
  • They build the confidence of others with their support and encouragement.
  • They are open-minded and tolerant of the differences of others.
  • They keep their opinions to themselves when it comes to being critical of others.
  • They realize they do not have all the answers and are willing to compromise in reaching agreement with others.
Relationship boosters know that healthy relationships have to be good for both parties, not heavily in favor of one person over the other. They also understand that you cannot take healthy relationships for granted. You have to work at maintaining healthy relationships with family members, friends and co-workers. Like the flowers in a garden, healthy relationships have to be cultivated, fertilized and replanted on a regular basis.
Relationship Blockers
Relationship blockers are the enemies of healthy relationships. They are individuals whose mind-set, words and actions invariably block the creation of healthy relationships. Such people are easy to identify. They frequently exhibit many of the following traits on a regular basis:
  • They are egotistical and self-centered, always talking and thinking about themselves first.
  • They have a pessimistic, sour disposition and are frequently moody.
  • They are overly critical and negative, constantly finding fault with everything and everyone.
  • They are chronic “poor me” complainers, nothing is ever good enough and the world is always against them.
  • They lack a sense of humor and take themselves too seriously.
  • They are “takers” who are principally interested in what they can get from others, engaging in game-playing and manipulative behavior to obtain what they want.
  • They stereotype people, lack empathy and are insensitive to the feelings and needs of others.
  • They are condescending, sarcastic, and talk down to people, thinking they know it all.
  • They lack patience and have a short fuse, getting easily upset over small and minor issues.
As a consequence, relationship blockers generate negative emotions in their contact and dealings with people. They have great difficulty in establishing mutually beneficial, healthy relationships with anyone. You have to ask yourself, “Am I primarily a relationship booster or a relationship blocker?” If the latter is the case, you better start making some major changes, especially if you wish to enjoy any lasting friendships.
Personal Communications
Next to being a relationship booster, the single most critical issue in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships of any type is the quality of communication that exists between the individuals involved. Communication represents the fuel of all relationships. Whether it is a co-worker, business partnership, friendship or marriage, the better the level of communication, the better and more long-lasting the relationship.
The process of communication involves the interchange of information, ideas and feelings between two or more individuals. Healthy, happy, productive relationships only exist when this process occurs on an open, genuine, truthful and regular basis for all of the people concerned. Such relationships also depend on the communication being completely two-way as opposed to being principally one-way. The parties involved have to truly connect with each other in their ongoing communications.
Whenever relationships break down, people are quick to identify the superficial causes. But when you strip everything away, the fundamental root cause is invariably a failure or lack of proper communication. Often, relationships are entered into with high hopes and expectations but never succeed in establishing the required level of communication to ensure their survival.
In the business world, the decision to hire or promote someone in a management position is usually heavily influenced by the individual’s communication skills. While other qualifications and skills are obviously relevant, the ability to listen and speak well is often the decisive factor in whether you get the job or promotion.
Personal face-to-face communications comprise much more than just what is said verbally and how it is said in terms of tone of voice and loudness. Non-verbal forms of communicating with one’s body language, facial expressions and eye movements are often equally or even more important in telegraphing the position and true intent of the speaker. What people say and what they actually mean can be two different thing.
 

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