Relationship Rules by Jim Stovall
One of the deficiencies in language is that we have one word to describe a myriad of objects or situations. This is certainly true when it comes to human relationships. The term friend has been stretched and co-opted to cover the gamut of human interaction. The digital age has brought us many wonderful benefits. Among them is the opportunity to stay in communication with people in our lives either personally or professionally. Unfortunately, the term friend has come to define anyone with whom we have direct or indirect contact.
I have long believed that if you go through your whole life and have five true friends, you are a fortunate individual. Obviously, I’m using the term friend in a different context than social media does. For the sake of this review of the relational landscape, I will break down human interaction into three basic areas.
· Contact. A contact is someone we know by sight, role, or reputation. It may be someone we work with and see sporadically or someone we correspond with on a regular basis. I have a data base of thousands of people who have read my books, been to an arena event where I spoke, seen one of my movies, or reached out to me in some way based on one of my public products or presentations. After many of my speaking engagements, I will meet, greet, take photos, or sign books for literally hundreds of people. They may tell other people they met me or even that we are friends. While they did, indeed, meet me and we are certainly not enemies, these are not people I can call my friends. We all have people like that in our lives, and it is perfectly functional and healthy as long as we do not depend upon or presume too much with respect to the relationship.
· Connect. There are people with whom we connect within a specific context, role, or function. We may work together closely, be on a team, or work on a civic or community project. There are people you went to high school or college with who were among your closest friends at that time, but you may not have seen them in years or even decades. Even though you’re not in constant contact, you still have a connection that relates to that specific time and place. These people share an important part of our lives.
· Complete. The most significant relationships we can ever have are those special people who complete us. They literally make us who we are. These individuals may be your spouse, parents, or mentors. It’s more than a relationship as they are literally a part of who we are and what we do.
All relationships are valuable and important, but it’s critical that we understand the nature and extent of the relationship we have with everyone in our lives.
As you go through your day today, understand and treasure every relationship.
Today’s the day!