The Changing Relationship Between People and Technology. Bob O'Donnell on July 3, Reading Time: 5 minutes. Despite all the clichés about the. Relationships are perhaps the most important foundation for your life. If you have great relationships, there's virtually nothing that can defeat. Two profiles in your people database can be connected by a relationship. Two people can be connected, a person can be connected to an organization, and two.
One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise--it's like getting flowers not because it's Valentine's Day, but "just because. Take a little time every day to do something nice for someone you know, not because you're expected to but simply because you can. When you do, your relationships improve dramatically. Realize when they have acted poorly. Most people apologize when their actions or words are called into question. Very few people apologize before they are asked to--or even before anyone notices they should.
Responsibility is a key building block of a great relationship.
People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don't try to push any of the blame back on the other person--those are people everyone wants in their lives, because they instantly turn a mistake into a bump in the road rather than a permanent roadblock. Give consistently, receive occasionally. A great relationship is mutually beneficial. In business terms that means connecting with people who can be mentors, who can share information, who can help create other connections; in short, that means going into a relationship wanting something.
The person who builds great relationships doesn't think about what she wants; she starts by thinking about what she can give. She sees giving as the best way to establish a real relationship and a lasting connection. She approaches building relationships as if it's all about the other person and not about her, and in the process builds relationships with people who follow the same approach. In time they make real connections.
And in time they make real friends. Value the message by always valuing the messenger. When someone speaks from a position of position of power or authority or fame it's tempting to place greater emphasis on their input, advice, and ideas.
We listen to Tony Hsieh. We listen to Norm Brodsky. We listen to Seth Godin. The guy who mows our lawn? Maybe we don't listen to him so much. Smart people strip away the framing that comes with the source--whether positive or negative--and consider the information, advice, or idea based solely on its merits. People who build great relationships never automatically discount the message simply because they discount the messenger.
They know good advice is good advice, regardless of where it comes from. And they know good people are good people, regardless of their perceived "status.
Types of Relationships
I sometimes wear a Reading Football Club sweatshirt. The checkout clerk at the grocery store noticed it one day and said, "Oh, you're a Reading supporter? My team is Manchester United. Now whenever I see him he waves, often from across the store. I almost always walk over, say hi, and talk briefly about soccer. That's as far as our relationship is likely to go and that's okay. And that's enough, because every relationship, however minor and possibly fleeting, has value.
People who build great relationships treat every one of their relationships that way. That's a lesson I need to take to heart more often. Apr 3, Like this column? This treatment is analytical in attempting to sketch the outlines of the principal patterns of relationships people enter into, and existential in attempting to describe what they are like from the inside.
Upon hearing these descriptions, many of our clients, students, and workshop participants breathed sighs of relief, because this categorization helped them understand what they were experiencing. They said such things as, "Yes, that's what's going on with us! It says, "This is how it is for these people at this point in time. The relationship fills real needs. It may become something else in the future, but this is what exists right now.
Using this insight as a starting point is quite different from the common approach of saying, "Here's what's wrong with each of these relationships and here's what should be done to fix it. These exist when partners feel like they can't make it on their own. This involves relating at its most basic: For example, a drug addict may be connected with a rigid, regimented partner who holds things together. In such a connection, the desperate quality of my choice is based more on my needs than on what you actually can offer me.
Since we are likely to have few shared interests or complementary qualities, there's little positive "glue" to hold us together when our relationship comes under stress. With each of us trying to get the other to provide what we're missing, our union is likely to be a symbiotic, desperately clinging one.
Often the relationship is subtly or openly hostile and abusive. One partner or both may be actually afraid he or she could get killed for talking about the partner's drinking or drug addictions or other problems, or for behaving in a way that appears to threaten the relationship.
Such fears may have a basis in reality. Relationships where one partner physically abuses the other are often of this kind. Partners may be desperate for caring, or they may be overwhelmed by any sign of caring and not know how to receive it.
In the latter case, the desperation may be just to have another person around to provide some kind of contact, order, routine, or even an opponent for fights and arguments. As a result of the desperation for contact and fear of losing it, partners tend to have a very fuzzy sense of their personal boundaries. Their contact is characterized by "confluence," in Fritz Perls' terms, in which it is unclear where one leaves off and the other begins, with considerable projection of the needs of each onto the other and introjection of the other's definitions of oneself.
Often partners think in terms of what the other person wants them to want, and are out of touch with what they themselves want. They may have little tolerance for independence and aloneness, and "go everywhere together and do everything together. The tiniest flicker of independence can be perceived as a threat. Even going into an ice cream parlor and asking for strawberry ice cream can be perceived as threatening if both of them have always ordered chocolate. Strong feelings of insecurity tend to play a central role.
Despite all this, they are getting something out of it. The connection feels better than being alone or institutionalized. Since the partners are so afraid to be alone, when they leave one relationship for another, they tend to make sure there's someone else to jump to before they let go of the person they've been with, or make a quick impulsive choice of a new partner.
Since the partners tend to be very dependent personalitis, or "relationship junkies," co-dependency is often a dominant feature of such connections. Co-dependent relationships can also exist at more sophisticated levels. A person may not feel his or her emotional survival intensely threatened, but the partner can be perceived as an anchor in one's life without whom one is rudderless and lost.
This is very common and is often an element in a number of the other relationship types described below. Therapy with a survival relationship is likely tobegin with looking at how the other person is "right" for you. What needs are they fulfilling?
How was your existence at the point where the other person came into it? How can you develop more self-support in areas where you're depending on the relationship for support?
How would your life be without this person? How well were you functioning when you met him or her? Sometimes the ending of such relationships is a sign of growth by one person or by both.
Even when that's the case, the relationship may end in a hostile way that is at least emotionally destructive and at most physically violent.
A person may seek another's validation of his or her physical attractiveness, intellect, social status, sexuality, wealth, or some other attribute.
Sex and money are especially common validators. In response to a sexually unsatisfying relationship, a person may choose a new partner with whom sexuality iscentral: The packaging tends to be very important: These relationships are always a little insecure: Since the partners are immature, there is enormous tension and constant testing: This element can also occur in other types of relationships.
Each partner can be looking for a different kind of validation. An older professor who takes up with an attractive young student may want physical and sexual validation, while the student wants intellectual validation. As the relationship continues, one person may continue to require validation while the other starts wanting something deeper.
When this happens, both partners are apt to feel betrayed, empty, and angry. For example, the man may discover that the beautiful woman doesn't give him what he thinks she's going to.
He grows hungry for real contact, while she still wants to be the queen and have endless large parties. One of the sources of validation they originally had in common has broken. Or the woman who wants security marries money and discovers that even though she's rich, she still feels anxious and threatened. The money doesn't do what she thought it would. A validation relationship can further the valuable goal of shoring up a person's self-esteem in areas where he or she has felt inadequate or doubtful.
When that has been done, and the partners begin to be able to give themselves some of the validation they relied on the other person for, the question which begins to emerge is, "How much do we have in common besides the validating item?
Where else can we go in the relationship? Can we find other sources of connection besides the surface personality traits and social roles that originally brought us together?
But if she's a thinking person beneath the facade, the relationship may develop. If, for example, she was raised in a family with "the beauty" as her role, but is intelligent as well, there are possibilities.
She may begin to play an important role in his business, or develop her own abilities in a way which makes her a more broadly interesting or useful partner. If no deeper basis for connecting materializes and the partners drift apart, there is a strong chance that the needs for validation have been met and the partners have begun seeking something different. At that point, the relationship has done its work.
The partners have learned to validate in themselves the qualities they were insecure about and they are ready to connect along other dimensions. This common pattern often begins begins when the partners both are just out of high school or college.
They seem to be "the perfect pair," fitting almost all the external criteria of what an appropriate mate should be like. The marriage involves living out their expectations for the roles they learned they were supposed to play. He has the "right" kind of job and she is the "right" kind of wife and they have the "right" kind of house or apartment or condo in the "right" place.
Their families think it's the perfect match. These relationships are intended to be for the long haul. They are often very child-focused. Everyone is getting raised at the same time: The parents are growing up while they're raising the children. A variation of this theme is the career-oriented couple, where the career takes the place of the child. They may have a child too, but the career is the primary focus. Often there is also still heavy involvement with the family of origin, calling mom or dad at least once a day.
Big holidays are stressful because they can't even please themselves, much less everyone else on both sides of the family. They become days of obligation rather than holidays. In these relationships differences often take the form of power struggles. Endless arguments develop about everything: This often turns into a pattern in which the issue isn't really the matter at hand but rather who "wins. Sexual attraction and involvement may suffer as a by-product of the power struggles and the difficulty in talking to each other in intimate ways.
Don and Carol were seen by all as "right" for each other. Like both their families, they became upwardly mobile. Cheered on by all their friends, they were classic "Yuppies" during the s. After Don successfully moved into politics, his jeans became expensive suits, and Carol's business success gave her options for exploring the material world with a vengeance.
They argue over everything. While both are monogamous, they are almost celibate. To those observing from outside the family, they are almost an inspiration. In this kind of relationship, everyone can end up "invisible. In a two-career family the reverse can also be true. The husband may be invisible to the wife, with her focus on the children and her community interests.
The children are invisible because their primary role is to serve as projections of the parents' needs and expectations, and anything that doesn't fit those expectations is squelched. As long as the roles fit both partners' expectations, the relationship works. When someone takes a step toward breaking out of an expected role, often the partner views it as a major threat and a power struggle ensues.
In these relationships, partners tend to get stuck in old patterns. They don't try new things, don't find a way to discuss where to go on vacation.
They may divorce in their forties after twenty-five years of marriage, often because when the kids are gone, so is most of what held them together. Endings in these relationships tend to be heart-wrenchingly painful and destructive: If they split up, it's likely to involve an extramarital affair, because the system provides no opportunity for talking about the relationship. As these couples start learning to listen, to disclose their deeper feelings, to negotiate, and to compromise, they can provide room for each other to develop and value individual identities.
This includes learning to pursue their individual interests, such as fishing for him and tennis for her, and then coming together to share common concerns and pleasures, such as going out together tonight and taking the kids to the park tomorrow. Partners often find solutions to their conflicts when they begin letting go of stereotyped ideas about who has to do what.
Perhaps he likes cooking but is all thumbs around the house, while she's handy with tools and tired of being locked into the woman's role. Partners in these relationships need to look at all the things they've wanted to do in life but haven't, because it didn't fit their stereotypes about themselves and their expectations about their partners.
They need to learn to communicate at an emotional level, to disclose their feelings and listen to those of their partner. They may need to learn to work less and play more. This is what many of us thought we were getting into when we entered a relationship, including many people in the three categories above.
In an acceptance relationship we trust, support and enjoy each other. And within broad limits, we are ourselves. But each of us has a good sense of which aspects of our personal selves lie outside those limits. I find ways to restrain myself from pushing those limits that erode your trust, strain your enjoyment, and weaken your support for me. When our expectations are not overwhelming, when the differences between our interests and inclinations are not too dissonant, and when our combative instincts are not too strong, a scripted relationship can evolve into an acceptance relationship.
When there's enough growth to keep us together and our insecurities allow for honest reassurances, a validation relationship can also evolve into an acceptance relationship. Valerie says, "Eventually Dave and I both realized we didn't have to be phony as our major priority.
We found much in common, and now we give and receive a lot with each other.