Every relationship has multiple aspects, and they will differ depending on the type of relationship, the intensity, and more, but we are finding that integrity is more critical than ever.
There are four things that many of the others fall under without which a relationship simply cannot sustain itself, and that – for me – help define integrity. This is true for ALL relationships – it doesn’t matter if this is business, marriage, friendship, or even family! Without all four foundations a relationship will fail, sooner or later.
Learn to apply these in every aspect of your life and you’ll see a difference. All of them are vital, but the last is the most critical – and the most often missing – because the rest all depend upon it.
So what are they?
A Form of Love or Respect – a Basis
All relationships have to be based on something, to have a heart, and you cannot even have a simple business relationship or partnership if you don’t respect the other in the relationship – or if they don’t respect you. With closer relationships, there may also be fondness, deep regard, or love – but if you don’t even have basic respect for someone, why do you have a relationship with them? And how long do you think that will last?
Being honest to yourself and others is vital for a relationship’s stability. This doesn’t necessarily mean telling everything without diplomacy, but it means not misleading others, being direct where it’s needed; having transparency where required, being deserving of trust. If you are not honest, trust will quickly evaporate and the relationship will fail. People don’t want to marry or do business with dishonest people. It’s an old cliché, but it’s actually true: Honesty IS the best policy in relationship terms, because it signifies respect or love, and it is both justified by and inspires trust.
Hand in hand with honesty goes trust. Trust is vital – sustainable, beneficial relationships are mutual, with give and take. How can you do either if you cannot trust the other person? Trust is a concept that is both active and passive. People feel they have to earn trust, but also you should, unless given a specific reason not to, trust someone you respect and have formed a relationship with on a mutual basis of respect. This is a part of risk and reward, and justification for honesty. If you trust someone, respect someone, and you’re both honest, you will collaborate optimally in whatever you do.
So, what is the fourth? This most critical of all?
The basis of everything we do together?
Without communication, you cannot express respect, love, honesty, trust, teaching, learning, feedback, a multitude of other things. And yet, communication is where we most often fail; in business, in marriage, in friendship, in family. The importance of clear, mutual communication based on respect, trust and honesty cannot be understated. It is the principle foundation upon which all relationships are constructed, and upon which the other foundations depend. It’s also the least clear, because individuality, context, assumption, mental patterns and traditions, and much more that I speak of in other articles and posts skews it, so we are very often communicating together on different levels even when we want to be aligned.
No wonder mistakes are made so often! Communication is probably the most crucial to understand or fix before any others. It’s quite literally how you interface with all other humans, and will define how a relationship works. True communication is also based on discourse, not one-way instruction, which is easier – and modern management has fallen into a very tempting pattern of dictation and expectation as a result. For ideas on learning to listen and accept other communication, have a read of 3 Things You Can Do To Immediately Enhance Your Leadership.
So, these are (for want of a better title!) Chris’s Four Foundations of Sustainable Relationships. It doesn’t matter who we are – base a relationship upon these principles, and it has a good chance of being extremely mutually rewarding. Miss one, and it’s likely to fail.
I’d love to hear what people think – please comment below or give me a shout! I find many people add elements to this, although often they loosely fit under the 4 above.