There are two approaches to relationships. The first one almost never works. The second one almost always does.
The first approach has three steps: 1) find the right person, 2) fall in love, and 3) hope everything works out. And if that fails, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
The second approach has three steps as well. But they are significantly different steps: 1) become the right person, 2) make a commitment to behave the right way, and 3) resolve the conflicts that will inevitably cross your path. Repeat as needed.
Many of you know how to do step 1 (become the right person) because you’ve been reading my Tuesday Tips or you’ve attended my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program. https://www.attendthejourney.com.
And many of you will learn how to do step 3 (resolve conflicts) when you attend my program on How to Resolve Conflict with More Respect and Less Hurt on May 7, 2020.
However, very few people pay attention to step 2 (make a commitment to behave the right way).
Let’s fix that right now with the 6 Relationship Commitments You Need to Make. And the neat thing is these six commitments work equally well with your personal and professional relationships
► Relationship Commitment #1: I commit to prioritizing you.
In other words, if the other person is important to you, they know it. They can see and they can feel your prioritization.
When I was speaking at a 3M conference, I asked the audience to take off their professional hats for a moment and think of themselves as mothers and fathers. Then I asked them, “How do your kids know they are loved?”
They told me their kids know they are loved because they saw their parents go off to work each day to provide for them, to provide the food, clothing, and shelter they needed.
Wrong! Kids spell love T-I-M-E, not t-h-i-n-g-s. Spending time with them says “I am committed to prioritizing you.”
I had to learn that the hard way. When my daughter was young, it seemed like she was constantly saying, “Dad, Dad,” and I would respond with something like, “Later, I’m busy … or … Not now … or … Can’t you see I’ve got things to do?” In fact that was our pattern for several years, until she decided she no longer wanted a relationship with me and our communication was reduced to almost zero for a few years.
You know what haunts me the most about that? I can clearly remember those times my daughter was asking for my attention. I can still hear her voice. But I can’t remember one single one of the things that was so important that it merited my attention and required that I ignore my daughter.
I share this in hopes you don’t have to learn the hard way. When it comes to building healthy relationships, the first commitment I need to make … and so do you … is … I commit to prioritizing you.
► Relationship Commitment #2: I commit to being open with you.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that to be true. They asked 50,000 employees to rank the ten factors that most influenced their morale back on the job. They ranked “openness” or “being kept fully informed” as the second most important piece in the morale-building, trust-building, work-relationship-building process.
Unfortunately, many companies fall short of this openness commitment. I remember speaking to a group of employees about 3 years ago who came to my seminar filled with anger. They had just read in the newspaper that one-third of their jobs would be eliminated in the next three months and that was the first time they had heard about the downsizing.
As a result, the employees didn’t feel very important, and they didn’t feel very respected when the public knew more about their company than they did. And the employees never fully trusted their leaders again.
Obviously, that company had not made Relationship Commitment #2: I commit to being open with you.
► Relationship Commitment #3: I commit to trusting you.
Trust is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you mistrust one of your employees, if you suspiciously watch that employee every minute, you will find some behavior that confirms your mistrust. No employee does his best in that environment.
The same is true with your kids and your spouse.
On the other hand, if you believe in an employee, if you trust an employee’s intentions, judgment, and competence, you will have an employee that blossoms. In that kind of an environment, the employee feels supported and encouraged and, as a result, produces better results.
You tend to get what you expect. So in the process of building stronger, healthier relationships, you start by presuming you can trust the other person. You trust them until they give you a reason not to.
Fortunately, you can trust most people. At one of my favorite local restaurants, there is one word across the top of the menu – TRUST. Customers pay their bills and make their own change at a money box near the front door. When I asked the owner about her unusual business approach that she has used for 25 years, she said, “When you trust people, they’re not going to steal from you.”
Of course, some of you will say, “Hold it. Not all people are trustworthy. Some people will disappoint you no matter how much you believe in them.” True. There will be conflicts in every relationship.
That’s why I’m inviting you to attend my virtual program on May 7th, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on How to Resolve Conflict with More Respect and Less Hurt. It will be well worth your time; I can assure you.
I like the way basketball coach John Wooden put it. He says, “It is better to trust and be disappointed occasionally than to distrust and be miserable all the time.”
And if you’re a business person, you might like what B. C. Forbes had to say. He said “It is better to be occasionally cheated than perpetually suspicious.”
If you want to build your relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, and customers, you’ve got to make Relationship Commitment #3: I commit to trusting you.
Tune in next Tuesday for the other three relationship commitments you need to make.