I want to talk about relationships and where you are within your relationships, what’s working, what’s not working, and just give you a chance to have a think about that aspect.

Relationships are funny things. If you think of the ones that have come and gone in your life, both professionally and personally, the ones that feel seemingly easy, and then the ones that you have to work really hard at.  It’s so interesting because you’re the continuous factor in all of your relationships. Yet they can be so different because of who’s on the other side.

Professional relationships are changing.

People are connecting in written form before they even speak and certainly before they meet in person these days, and teams have been forced to work remotely away from one another. Relationships, therefore, are different. We’re not seeing people so the way we interact is seemingly less human.

Social interaction is changing within teams within the workplace.

Conversations are becoming more clear.

Time is an ever increasing problem within the workplace. In order to get the vital information across seems to be losing that human element of relationships.

So I’m asking you to have a think about your relationships today, and you can look at this both professionally or personally. You may be leading a team, you may be leading your own business but the one thing for sure that you’re doing is you’re leading your life and in all walks of your life you will have relationships with people. For any relationship we have to start with the one that you have with yourself. Self-awareness is key.

Carl Yung says

“Everything that irritates us about other people can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

I love that quote! Everything that irritates us about other people and lead us to an understanding of ourselves. We will notice things in other people. That might be things we like. It might be things we don’t like. Carl Jung focuses on the irritation, but it can be positive and negative. The things we spot in others are often an indication of what’s going on for us, so it opens the opportunity up for us to create understanding about ourselves. I invite you to do that. I invite you to go with curiosity and observe your relationships and your interactions over the next week and see what are you spotting and what can that help you understand about you?

Knowing what you want, knowing what your fears are and knowing where you need to feel are three vital ingredients. Vital to help you know where you’re at and to help you be the most authentic version of yourself showing up in the world in any relationship that you have.

We all talk to ourselves all the time. Some of that will be positive, some of that’s encouraging, and some of that will be negative. I can’t be the only one on the planet who talks negatively to themselves sometimes. But you know, when you’re doing it and you can catch those things, and if the negative talk towards yourself feels like you’re beating yourself up, then that relationship that you’re having with yourself is what is reflected in what you bring to relationships with other people. It’s what you attract in what you see in those relationships with other people. If you’re telling yourself you’re not worthy in a relationship, you’ll spot all the little tiny signals that will reinforce ‘yes I’m not worthy. See I knew I was right!‘, but you might not spot the signals to tell you you are worthy because you’re going to see it through that place to reinforce all the negative talk that you’ve got going on inside yourself.

Fixed ideas.

So often we enter relationships with fixed ideas. Fixed ideas about us, fixed ideas about the other person and fixed ideas about relationships. So we might have fixed ideas about relationships with a partner or potential partner. We might have fixed ideas about relationships with friends, and that might be formed by experiences that we’ve had through our lives with friends and we’ve built up a story about what the relationships with friends looked like in my life.

We might have fixed ideas about relationships we have with colleagues or with bosses, all of those different types of relationships and of course, there’s many more. But we build up these fixed ideas about relationships, what it should be. When the interaction, the conversations don’t start to go the way we expect them to, what happens is we start to employ a defence mechanism because our brain is wired to keep us safe. And when things don’t work out the way we think they should, even if they’re working out better than we think they should then we employ a defence mechanism, usually a fight or flight response. So if you’re going into flight response, then you might employ defence mechanisms like going quite quiet. You might ignore somebody for a while. You might walk away. You might ghost them. You might just not give them your time. You might go into fight mode, and of course, that’s a little bit more obvious. Where you are going to stand your ground and you’re going to maybe potentially go into attacking the other person for all the things they’re doing wrong. If you’re resonating with any of this, that’s your indication of where your fixed ideas about you, about other people and about relationships might be coming from. Have a look at it and have a think about it.

A coaching client of mine was struggling with her peers, and she viewed herself as not equal and not worthy. She viewed her peer as superior, and she viewed the relationship as something where she had to prove herself. Interestingly, it was clunky, awkward and she didn’t enjoy the interactions. So guess what she saw? She saw all of the signals to reinforce that she wasn’t worthy. When we cleared it through the coaching and when we worked on it for her, it allowed her to open herself up without the fixed ideas because the fixed ideas were purely stories she was telling herself. They weren’t true, there were just stories. So we opened her up to allow her to have different kind of interactions with exactly the same person. And all of her approaches changed. All of our interactions changed. What happened was she started to see that pier as a human, not as a superior, just as a human. Now they get along great.

Take a look at you first. What stories are you telling yourself about you, about other people and about relationships? Ask yourself if they are true. Take responsibility for your own thoughts and your own feelings.

Next we stick with you in relationships, we look at how you’re showing up in all of your conversations, your interactions to build the relationship, how you showing up in the relationship itself. Are you showing up in a way that enables engagement and connection? A great reflection tool for you to work through is, first of all, to think about when you’re showing up at your best in a relationship, what are you doing? Think of a relationship where you know we’re showing up at your best or an interaction or conversation. What are you doing and how are you being? And then think, what’s the impact of that on them and on me when I show up after my best in a relationship, in a conversation and then do the same for the flip side? So when you are showing up, not at your best in an interaction, in a conversation and therefore in a relationship, what are you doing? How will are you being? It will be different. You’ll be showing up differently, you’ll be doing different things. You’ll be being a different person. Notice the differences. What’s the impact on the other person and what’s the impact on you when you’re not at your best? You can have a really good look at that, take that tool away and reflect on it and think about how you want to be because it’s all about choice. You get to make the choice about how you show up. What’s best for both you and for the people? What is the impact you really want to have through your relationships? See what you noticed with that exercise. Let me know, you know, put something in the comments or send me a message and let me know I’d love to know what’s coming up.

You have the choice to change your inner story so that you can show up in a way that helps you and them. Next it’s then about this engagement and connection. Getting clear, first of all, on the reason why you’re all there, whether it’s a team, whether it’s a group of friends, whether it’s your having a one to one with somebody, whether you sat around the boardroom table, it doesn’t matter. If you want engagement and connection in a relationship, then there needs to be engagement and connection in all the interactions. First and foremost, why are you there in the relationship, in the conversation? Don’t get caught up in transactional conversations. By that, I mean, when you just shared bits of information backwards and forwards. That’s no help to anyone to build a connected and engaged relationship.

For engagement, you want win win on both sides. It’s the desire for you to always walk away from every interaction knowing that in your relationship they’re getting something positive from it, and so are you. It’s a win win on both sides. But there’s no assumptions. There’s no room for that for engagement and connection. There’s no judgement. You’re creating space for both you and the other people in this relationship, the other person in this relationship to express yourselves with empathy and compassion. Request instead of demand and listen actively. Listen to hear. Create the time for that within the space of your relationship. Engagement comes from being up to something together, exploring something together. Think of the relationships that really work for you in your life. You’ll find that you’re up to something, you know, you’ll be creating something, you’ll be working towards goals or you’ll be building a vision. You’ll be doing it together. That’s what your engagement will come from in that relationship. You and your partner are up to something. You’re creating a life together. You and your friends know you might be involved in things in other relationships, but when you get up to something you create engagement and you create a stronger connection.

Create conversations where everybody has a voice and everybody feels heard. In your conversations, take interest in people. Who are they really? What do they do? What are they good at? What do they enjoy? What’s going on for them at the moment? How are they really? And what are they up to? What’s inspiring them at the moment? Get to know the person and be interested. Be curious. Don’t just swap transactional bits of information.

The three legged stool model.

Finally, today on relationships, I want to leave you with a model that I use a lot with in my coaching. Imagine this like a three legged stool for this one, and each leg’s got a different label. The reason I think this three legged stool is because you need over three legs for this whole thing to stand up. If you chop one of the legs off, it’s all going to fall over. On one leg, we’ve got the word trust on the second leg, we’ve got the word openness and on the third leg we’ve got the word safety. Thinking about in all your relationships. Each one of these legs is two sided, so pick a relationship that’s close to you at the moment and think about what am I doing to enable this person to trust me? That’s one side of your trust leg. The other side of the trust leg is what am I doing to show them that I trust them. So how to enable them to trust me? And how do I show them that I trust them? Second leg – openness. How do I enable them to be open with me? Am I approachable? Do I make time? Do I listen actively? Do I shout people down and tell them I haven’t got time for them? Do I jump in and try and fix them? Do I give them feedback that makes them think they’ll never open up to me again? How do I enable them to be open with me, and how am I being open with them? Because remember, every relationship is two way. The final one is safety. And that’s exactly the same. It’s two sided. How am I enabling them to feel safe in this relationship with me? What am I doing that makes them feel safe? How am I showing them that I feel safe in my relationship with them? Six really powerful questions based on that stool and if nothing else, if you have a look at those questions around that stool that will really get you thinking about how you can be actively present in all of your relationships, to engage, to connect, have really meaningful connections and relationships with people that are based on win win. You win, they win. It’s a great experience to share.

I really hope that you’ve got some useful things out today and that you can take those away, do the exercises, share your thoughts with me or you send me a message. All of my work is centred around people helping leaders, helping managers work with their teams, helping people to realise that potential build their confidence, build their self-belief. So it’s all centred around this. I would love to know what you’ve taken away from today’s video and how you get on with those two exercises when you start to sit down on those questions.

Good luck with it all, and I will look forward to hearing from you.