How to heal the sick relationship epidemic (Part 2)

Ever felt like something was missing from your life? Or your job?

If you’re like most people, the answer is certainly yes. Something seems to be missing some of the time.

But do you know what that is? What’s missing? Author Robert Brault provides a very good answer. He says, “When something is missing in your life, it usually turns out to be someone.”

Or to put it in my terms, it usually turns out to be that one of your relationships is less than effective. Whether it is that irritating coworker who never listens, a partner who never takes any initiative, or a service provider that doesn’t follow through, there’s something missing in each of those relationships.

However, you have the power to put a little magic into all of your personal or professional relationships by using ten skills. Last week I gave you the first five. Let’s go on to the next five skills.

► 6. Bring a positive attitude.

Few things are more contagious and powerful than attitudes. And the attitude you bring to your marriage or your team will have a HUGE impact on the results you get.

As the world’s leading authority on attitudes, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale declared, “There is a basic law that like attracts like. Negative thinking definitely attracts negative results. Conversely, if a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, his positive thinking sets in motion creative forces, and success …instead of eluding him … flows toward him.”

► 7. Spend significant time together.

In today’s COVID-scared, riot-infested world, you will never build better, healthier, more effective, more cooperative relationships with anyone by throwing insults, putdowns, and bricks at those with whom you disagree. You build relationships at home, at work, and on the streets by spending time together.

And that’s not easy. After all, everybody’s busy. But when you take time, magic happens.

One of my clients, AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company, knows about that. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, most of the conventions pulled out of the city … which only lead to further financial devastation. But not AstraZeneca.

As Rick Reid told me, “After noticing neighborhoods and buildings in disarray, I noticed the eyes of the local people. Many looked tired and some seemed almost without hope. As I and my fellow coworkers began to work in their neighborhoods and struck up conversations with the locals, their faces changed from despair to glimmers of brightness. Many workers, waiters, housekeepers, and musicians came up to us and thanked us for coming. It was our presence there … it was our time spent with them … that seemed to signal the beginning of a return to normal.”

Rick has a lesson for all of us. If you want your relationship to work, if you want your team to succeed, then there’s no substitute for time. You’ve got to spend time with each other and on each other.

► 8. Build your friendship.

I saw a sign a while ago that read, “Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone.”

Of course I chuckled, but I also thought how tragic if someone actually believed the sign.

The research says that happy marriages and effective teams are composed of people who have mastered the art of friendship. And like friends, the people in those relationships don’t leave or give up when the going gets tough. They encourage one another as well as hold each other accountable.

To make sure you’re on track with this, just ask yourself one question. Before you say or do anything to someone, ask yourself “Is that the way a really good friend would handle this?” If yes, go ahead. But if your answer is no, for God’s sake shut up or don’t do it.

► 9. Have some fun together.

All relationships take a tremendous amount of work. Even the best ones. If there is no fun to balance out the work, spouses, partners, and teammates begin to lose their motivation, energy and commitment.

And as you know, you don’t want that to happen. After all, it’s a lot easier to keep a fire burning than it is to start a new one.

And the less time you have for fun, the more you need it. As author William Feather (1889-1981) wrote, “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.”

► 10. Forgive each other.

Small, sick, insecure, unhealthy, hateful, destructive people are unwilling or incapable of forgiveness. When they don’t get their way, they strike out, trying to hurt, destroy, get back or get even with the offending party. They do the very opposite of relationship building.

Healthy people practice forgiveness instead. They build bridges instead of walls. When they hurt someone, they have no trouble in saying, “I’m sorry … I was wrong … Please forgive me”.

And when they get hurt, when the offending party reaches out to them in hopes of reconciliation, healthy people don’t hold grudges. They say, “Of course, I forgive you. Let’s talk about where we go from here.”

Of course, some of you will say, “I can’t forgive him for how he hurt my feelings … I’ll never forgive her for how she sabotaged me at work … and … I can’t let that person off the hook after all he did.”

If that sounds like you, you’ve got it all backwards. Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook. It’s not about excusing the other person’s misbehavior. It’s about setting yourself free. It’s about letting go of your bitterness so you can go on with your life.

Final Thought: Relationships are not a matter of luck. They are the result of hard work. But you have the power to make any of your relationships more magical when you apply the ten skills we just discussed.