Many years ago, I attended a workshop on emotional intelligence and nurturing relationships in your life. One of the tips that has stuck with me since that day, is the fact that just like in business, the relationships in your life need to be managed and you need to check up on them regularly.
The facilitator of this class even told us that she personally had an electronic journal that had tabs in it for all of the important people in her life. At the time I thought, “wow that seems a bit unnecessary and over the top”, but upon reflection it made complete sense.
These tabs in her journal included reminders of important milestones in these people’s lives, a note of how long it had been since she last spoke to them, following up on events that are important to them and even a simple thing like thanking them for being a friend/colleague/associate or asking if they needed a hand in their life/work. It was really her way of keeping herself accountable for contributing to her relationships. I liken it to her goodwill bank account and she kept track of the deposits she was making.
Now before you stomp all over this idea and seemingly “crazy” big brother style approach, think about how often you say to a friend “oh gosh, time just flies, I can’t believe I haven’t spoken to you in over X months” or “I’m so sorry I’ve been meaning to call you…”, it happens all the time right?
And then, think about those relationships in your life where you are the one always giving, always following up and always initiating the contact. You’re adding more and more deposits into your goodwill bank account but those people are just withdrawing time and time again and aren’t making any deposits! There’s a few of those too, right?
You see all relationships take work from both parties.
Regardless of who the person is, if you truly want a relationship with them and they do with you, then you both need to put in the effort. This means both parties need to invest in it equally and most importantly give each other their time.
The challenge is, that in our super busy, over stimulated lives, we need to take stock, be mindful and ensure that we too are giving and not just taking. It can be very easy to lose track of time if you don’t have some way of keeping yourself in check.
For those that don’t know me one of my highest values is “quality relationships”. I have spoken to many people over the years about the importance of relationships and also the fact that sometimes there are relationships that we just need to let go of. I call it “closing down the one-way streets”.
Let me show you what this looks like.
Recently, I had an experience with a business acquaintance where after working with them closely for nearly 12 months, I asked them for some help. Of course, I had been very generous and given hours and hours of my time, advice and help to this business previously. I was essentially now making a withdrawal from a bank account that I had put plenty of deposits into!
Upon asking for their help, I got a half-hearted response and told they could maybe fit me in for a quick chat at some indefinite point.
Needless to say, I felt pretty ripped off as I had deposited a lot into this account and when the time came to make a withdrawal for my time in need, it didn’t happen.
Now, this really got me thinking as I was seeing red after this experience and at first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was so angry. Then it finally dawned on me….. my highest value is “quality relationships” and in response to asking for help from someone that I thought I had a good relationship with, this value had been completely compromised and eroded.
I realised that the biggest betrayal was that they had compromised one of my core most important values to the point that I felt taken advantage of.
So, what did I do?
Well, I’m a reasonable person and I’ll give them another go. Who knows, maybe they responded in haste and didn’t realise just how selfish they were being. But fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! So, if it doesn’t work out, I’m very prepared to close down that one way relationship street. Investing my time in the quality relationships that I do have in my life is far too precious to waste it on those one-way streets.
Do you have any one-way streets in your life? If so, maybe it’s time to close them down!