Complexity of Relationships

I was recently noticing how complex and layered relationships are, both personal and professional. I was also feeling grateful that since I have been learning and reflecting on this complexity for most of my adult life I have been privileged to encounter practices that enable me to live into this complexity with the possibility of more constructive outcomes.

In general, I believe that people want to do well, want to be in productive relationships and most of the time are doing the best they can, even if it does not feel that way when interacting with them. Workplaces can be difficult environments and unfortunately they do not always bring out the best in us. In my experience in working in organizations, in consulting to organizations and in coaching people working in organizations, there are situations that emerge in which we may not feel appreciated, we become territorial and are more defensive and protective, rather than open, trusting and collaborative. This is an unfortunate development because when we feel threatened we build walls around us and do everything we can to not feel vulnerable. I believe we need a degree of vulnerability to learn and grow individually and together.

Collaboration requires an element of trust and belief in us and in others. We need to trust that we will rise to the occasion and that others will, as well. The more we trust ourselves and each other and live into our relationships in trusting ways, the better the quality of these relationships and the more rewarding the outcomes. We have choices along the way and these are what can be considered critical moments. They are fateful in that they determine the quality of subsequent interactions. I can live into a relationship being focused only on that moment and not caring or paying attention to what happens after thinking I will deal with it when it comes. However, if I do not live into the moment in a constructive and trusting manner, I will be repairing the damage I caused by not considering “what happens next.”

The recognition that we have choices in the actions we take, how we communicate and how we behave is liberating, scary and a burden all at the same time. This sense of agency means we have some influence and control over our lives and our relationships, so why not take it?

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