Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What!
You too? I thought I was the only one.'"
C.S. Lewis, British scholar and novelist
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Personal Commentary:
the world's financial markets have gone up and down ... dramatically ... for
years ... it has scared most people. But in the midst of all that, I noticed
that a particular bank, American Federal Bank, remained rock solid. They
brought in ... and continue to bring in ... great returns for their clients and
their employees, year after year after year. That caught my attention and made
me wonder what their secret was.
When they asked me to speak at their Annual Sales
Stars Conference last year, president Steve Worwa and Human Resource Director
Marlene Daniels told me their secret. It was one word: Relationships.
And then a few days ago, that same client, which is
located in Minnesota and North Dakota, asked me to speak to all of their
employees. Before I spoke, however, Worwa and Daniels addressed the various
groups, speaking from their hearts, making it clear that business ... their
business ... or any business ... is all about good, healthy, positive, and
productive relationships. When the relationships work, they said, so does
everything else. I couldn't agree more.
Indeed, David Osnowitz, one of the Vice
Presidents of Merrill Lynch, feels the same way. That's why he came to my
"Journey to the Extraordinary" program, and that was one of his key
take-aways from the Journey. David writes, "GREAT program. I learned
several specific strategies that I was able to use immediately that helped me
in all of my relationships, both personally and professionally."
If you'd like to master those strategies, please join
me at my next "Journey to the Extraordinary" program coming to
Boston on May 2-3, 2013.
For today's purposes, however, let me outline a few
things that constitute a good relationship at work or at home.
1. A good relationship is often chosen.
Oh sure, there are ways you can build and improve ANY
relationship, but it's a lot easier if you CHOOSE your relationships carefully.
As my mentor, Dr. Sidney Simon, professor
emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, tells me somewhat
teasingly, "There are three rules for good relationships. 1. Pick
right. 2. Pick right. 3. Pick right."
Even though Simon likes to be a bit whimsical, he goes
on to explain, "Who you spend time with is who you become."
It's a fact of life. Other people ... their beliefs, values, thoughts,
attitudes, and behaviors will rub off on you.
So Mama was right. You had better choose your friends
and associates carefully. Or as Nido Qubein, president of Highpoint
University and the CEO of the Great Harvest Bread Company, points out, "You
must pick the right heroes, models, and mentors in life if you expect to go
anywhere in life."
I've followed that advice when it comes to
relationships. For 15 years I've belonged to a select group of eight
world-famous, professional speakers known as Master Speakers International. We
meet for two days ... four times a year ... to share our best practices. And as
a result, my learning and growth has gone through the roof ... not to mention
my financial health, emotional health, and work-life balance.
On a personal basis, the same relationship principle
applies ... "Who you spend time with is who you become." That's why
I've met with two different men for breakfast almost every week for 20 years.
One of them is a pastor and the other one, a business owner. We talk about
everything and their positive, encouraging, visionary attitudes have rubbed off
on me in so many ways.
So when it comes to hiring associates at work or when
it comes to spending your free time with others, pick right.
And then, you'll know you're in a healthy relationship
2. You and the other person respect each other.
Of course, the comedian Rodney Dangerfield made his
living joking about respect. He said he knew there wouldn't be any respect in
his marriage; in fact, he knew it on his wedding day when his wife said he
couldn't be in the wedding photographs. Dangerfield even noted one time that he
never slept alone, until he got married.
All kidding aside, when Dangerfield joked about
respect, we could all relate on some level. We all need to feel respected. When
you ask employees what they want to get out their jobs, after you get by the
obvious answers of pay, security and benefits, the next thing they mention is
Next, you'll know you're in a healthy relationship
3. You and the other person value each other's
You know that the two of you share some things in
common, but you also know that you each have some very valuable and unique
aspects about yourselves. That's great. If you were both alike in every way,
you wouldn't need the other person in your life.
Eleanor Roosevelt, an American First Lady as
well as an Ambassador, said, "Remember always that you have not
only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one. You
cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this."
Your uniqueness is good for the world and good for
your partner ... even though your partner's uniqueness is sometimes
challenging. Nonetheless, when you get to the point of truly VALUING the other
person's uniqueness, the problems of jealousy and possessiveness disappear.
And then you'll know you're in a healthy relationship
4. You and the other person feel safe.
You feel safe expressing your opinions, knowing that
you won't be put down, judged, or ridiculed ... just because your partner has a
different opinion. And you feel safe sharing your feelings, knowing that your
partner will do his/her best to understand your feelings without saying
"You shouldn't feel that way."
Well, perhaps you shouldn't feel that way. Sometimes
you make stupid or inaccurate assumptions and end up with the "wrong"
feelings as a result. Nonetheless, in a healthy relationship you still feel
safe in sharing your feelings instead of stuffing them until they come out
later, usually in a less effective and less appropriate way.
Bottom line, if your relationship is in good shape,
you don't fear your partner and he/she doesn't fear you. In fact, just the
opposite takes place. Both you and your partner's self-esteem are enhanced by
the relationship. You know how to give and receive feedback appropriately.
It's one of the things Barbara Schweitzer, the
Manager of Operations at Oil and Gas Information Systems, took away
from the "Journey to the Extraordinary." Not only did she score every
aspect of the program as an A+, she said, "After participating in the
Journey, I'm much more confident in my ability to provide helpful, effective
positive and negative feedback."
I invite you to join me for my next off-site "Journey"
coming to Boston on May 2-3, 2013 and get a HUGE discount ... if you register now.
You'll also know you're in a healthy relationship
both support and encourage each other's goals and ambitions.
In a healthy relationship, it's not my way, his way,
her way, or the boss' way. Every way has some validity. The partners or the
team members realize that different people have different goals, dreams, and
ambitions. And that's okay, even healthy. That's why "diversity
training" can be helpful ... to not only recognize the differences in
people but to tap into the power and wisdom of those differences.
One day a little old couple walked into the local fast
food restaurant. The man went up to the counter and ordered their food. He
brought back to the table a hamburger, a small amount of fries and a drink.
Carefully he sliced the hamburger in two and then neatly divided the fries into
two small piles. He sipped the drink and then passed it to his wife. She took a
sip and passed it back.
A younger man at a nearby table observed this couple
and began to feel sorry for them. He offered to buy them another meal, but the
old man respectfully declined saying that they were used to sharing everything.
The old man began to eat his food while his wife sat still,
not eating. The young man continued to watch the old couple feeling there was
something he should be doing to help. As the old man finished his half of the
burger and fries, the old lady still had not started eating hers.
The young man couldn't take it anymore. He asked,
"Ma'am, why aren't you eating?" The old lady looked up and politely
said, pointing to the old man, "I'm waiting on the teeth."
You might have the same initial reaction my wife had
when I shared this story with her. She laughed and then with a disgusted look
on her face said, "Gross!"
But how many times have you fallen into the trap of
drawing inaccurate conclusions? How many times have things turned out to be
very different from what they first appeared? Plenty of times, I'm sure. That's
why I always advise people to "withhold judgment until comprehension is
The good-intentioned young man had missed the most
important point. This old couple was supporting and encouraging one another ...
which are always present in the best of relationships.
Perhaps that's why Bill Keane, the creator of
the "Family Circus" comic strip, said, "A peaceful
home is as sacred a place as any chapel or cathedral."
You don't often hear the words love, money, profit,
teamwork, relationships, and business success all in the same sentence and in
the same context. But when I listened to the people from American Federal Bank,
everybody from new associates to long-term executives, they used those words
almost interchangeably. I think they would agree with sales professional
Cullen Hightower who says, "Love is what's left of a
relationship after all the selfishness has been removed."
with an important person in your life with whom you have a relationship. Go
through the five points above and discuss how well you're doing in each area
and decide on one thing you can do to make your relationship even better.
"Transforming the people side of business ... to help you get the payoffs
you want and need"
Dr. Alan Zimmerman
©2013 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off. For more information on his programs ... or to receive your own free subscription to the 'Tuesday Tip' ...click here or call 800-621-7881.