Recently I asked the 70 people I work with to tell me 'what makes your interpersonal relationships work'. Consider a pool of people that is evenly split male to female, largely under the age of 40, some married, some single, some widowed, some divorced. While we live in Kentucky, most of us are from somewhere else, so that the idea that the average Kentuckian is likely to be married to his brother or sister does not apply here. In short, we are wholly normal, and through that normalcy, have found common ground on how to make a relationship work.
The first notion, and one that I found particularly intriguing, is that all relationships are a work in progress, not a finished piece of art. Cyncially, a relationship is the ultimate 'what have you done for me lately' experience. Once we stop working at the relationship, the relationship is likely to stop working.
Communication is an underlying theme of my peers review. The need to speak freely, honestly, with complete transparency becomes central to relationship developmet. Positive reinforcement, thankfulness, listening not only to what is said but also to what goes unsaid all make for effective communication.
Trust is a notion that is consistently addressed. Both emotional and physical fidelity are the bonds that make and break trust. In the absense of trust, the relationship can no longer provide a safeplace that both parties require.
Mutual Attaction and physical contact are both inherant to a sound relationship. I'm not here to champion or denegrate lust ... but on both sides of the gender divide, the need for some form of touch comes as a natural outgrowth of attraction.
There are a number of seemingly contrary throughts that appear all to be important in this relationship game.
-- Spontaneous Consistency. We loathe boredom, but we need predictability. To keep our relationships fresh, a magic moment or two sprinked in between the every day every day makes for a healthy partnership.
-- Freedom Constraint. Both parties must be allowed room to grow within their own personal space, while at the same time being respectful of the strictly drawn lines that empower trust.
-- Laughter Tears. Somehow we want our partners to share equally in our bright and shiny as we do in our darkness and despair. We need to be able to laugh with and occassionally at our partners. We require their understanding and support when we are overburdened by the day.
Relationships blossom when we discover that we share enthusiasms for similar actions, activities, people and places. Shared enthusiasms are no more important than shared dislikes. When 'I love Lucy' but you hate her ... well, we won't be covering chocolates together let alone driving across the country in our Airstream.
There are multiple other components. The ability to forgive and forget. The willingness to be fair, not just right. Remaining open to new ideas, all the while working together in the spirit of compromise to be attentive to the others needs.
These are the fundamental building blocks of strong interpersonal realtionships. And of the relationships between a brand and its customers.
Next blog ... I'll cross that bridge