Dag Hammarskjold once said "It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than it is to labor for the salvation of the masses". This is a very powerful truth – it often takes more courage and strength of character to build and repair a relationship with someone really important to you than it does to work for hundreds of strangers who will never know you intimately. Understanding some of the principles behind this statement will help you to build better relationships with people who are important to you.
One of the greatest difficulties encountered today is the break up of what should be close relationships – marriages turning into divorce, dysfunctional families, businesses torn apart by the strife between the leaders of the business. Very often the people who are unsuccessful in forming such relationships are successful in other aspects of their lives. They are valued members of the community, putting in endless hours to benefit a community organization, they establish good working relationships with colleagues at work. Yet they are failing when it comes to building those really critical relationships.
Identify the important relationships
What are the relationships that are important to you. Your parents, your spouse, your children, your business partner … There will be a list and it is likely to be fairly small. Once you are clear on the important relationships, you need to set aside some time for them. This can be on a daily or weekly basis, a time where you can make positive deposits into their emotional bank account. Some of the time should also be spent thinking about the quality of your relationship. Are there areas of strain? Can you foresee problems ahead?
See problems as opportunities
If the other person is encountering some difficulties in their own life, this could be a great opportunity for you help that person. Your help could be something as simple as just listening, it could involve offering constructive advice or it could be something even more tangible – you doing something to help out. Of course this will only really work when you are not in it for your own gain. You must approach this with the attitude of being completely focussed on the needs of the other person.
Don't leave issues to grow into mountains
When you find that some problem is occurring in one of your important relationships you need to resolve it with the other person. This can be one of the most difficult things you will have to do in your life. Unfortunately, because we are all individuals with different needs and approaches to life, it is something that you will almost inevitably have to do one or more times in all of your important relationships.
It is very important that you don't let the problem turn into a catastrophe. You need to find the courage in yourself to face up to the problem. Often the things that seem most frightening are the possibilities of complete losing the relationship or losing some of your own self importance. You need to approach the other person with no attachment to a specific outcome and with the attitude that whatever happens, it's going to be OK in the long run.
Very often, you will find that the other person will welcome your approach as they have sensed the same problem. They will be pleased that you have taken the initiative. Now you both need to be prepared to invest the time to restore a better balance. Be prepared to jointly face up to the issues that are underlying the problem and work out a solution that is acceptable to both of you.
This success quote reveals that one of the greatest challenges we face as human beings is to form deep and meaningful relationships with the small number of people who are most important to us. It's often easier to be a 'public' success, liked by large numbers of people. Developing and building close relationships is critical to us all as human beings, following the guidelines in this article for dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road can help you greatly.
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