The Value of Relationships
Today is Valentine’s Day and I am ruminating. I am thinking about the value of the many relationships I have and I am appreciating the fact they are value-adding relationships. I am thankful for these relationships. But how well do I value and foster them?
Recently I read the story of Joyce Vincent who reportedly died of an asthmatic attack in her flat in 2003. She lived alone and no one discovered her death until two years afterwards but only because her rent was set up to be automatically deducted from her bank account. When her bank account ran dry, her landlord started sending collection letters to her house which went unanswered. During this time, not one family member came looking for her. Not even a friend. It was mind-blowing to note that not even a neighbour or colleague had checked on her. In summary, she had no social connections. Could it be that she had no social capital, that is no investment in social connections.
What are Relationships?
The Oxford dictionary defines it as the state of being connected or the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other. The relationships we have are diverse including family relationships, friendships, work relationships, business relationships or those that exist as a result of associations or societies. Each of these relationships are fostered by our levels of social connectedness.
Why Are Relationships Important?
Recently I had the opportunity of leading a Masterclass on Healthy Relationships. Relationships are important for several reasons. Firstly, God created man with the need for another person to support him. The scripture, “It is not good for man to be alone” is a statement that surpasses all other quotes including “No man is an island” and “Man is a social being”.
Dr Brene Brown, a research professor and author referred to connectedness as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued. It happens when the individuals in the relationship “can give and receive without judgement and receive strength and sustenance from the relationship”. Studies show that the lack of connectedness is linked to poor states of health and well-being.
How To Foster Healthy Relationships
Many of our relationships suffer because we are not fostering them. When we neglect the significant and even the seemingly insignificant people in our lives, we end up eroding our well-being. Several persons suffer ill-health due to the nature of toxic and abusive relationships. Here are a few tips that can help to improve our relationships:
- Enhance your communication skills. Some include listening, friendliness, responsiveness, empathy, respect as well as non verbal communication or body language. Effective communication is key to maintaining relationships at work and also at home. Be open-minded. Make no assumptions. Ensure clarity and timely, constant and appropriate feedback. Utilise the various avenues of communication to achieve this.
- Learn self-control. This means self-regulation. This happens when we avoid angry outbursts and damaging words that would be regretted later.
- Set boundaries. This is quite important in work settings. It will lessen your risk of getting involved in an extramarital affair or manipulative relationships. Stand up for the values and beliefs you have as a person. Avoid controlling pressures from colleagues who don’t have similar values.
- Learn to part ways in the workplace amicably. This may be necessary because it’s time to move on due to several reasons. Train and coach the persons who are not doing well on the job rather than humiliating and devaluing them to instigate them into letting go. Jack Welch said “Everyone who leaves your company goes on to represent your company, either by praising you or badmouthing you”.
- Improve your social capital. Check on your family members, friends and colleagues. Look out for your neighbours. Volunteer. Join a group, society or association where you can serve others using your skills and knowledge. Explore new, purposeful activities in which you can engage with others with similar values and interests.
- Learn to show gratitude. This means being appreciative for little or big things that are done for you. Anyone who strives to make things happen at home or at work but gets no “thank you” would feel devalued. Gratitude fosters trust and productivity both in the home-front and at work.
- Learn the love language of those you connect with daily. This includes your spouse, children, friends, colleagues and superiors or supervisors. Is it physical touch (in a marital relationship), acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time or gifts? It will help you respond appropriately to their expectations and concerns.
- Get help. Many times, this is important in floundering marital or family relationships. “In the multiple of counsellors, there is safety”. This could come from a mentor, a pastor or professional counsellor. Don’t hide. Even abusive relationships can be resolved with the right counsel and proper rehabilitation.
In conclusion, value and quality should be built into our relationships to foster them and improve our social well-being. Connecting with the source of all life, God is the foundation to maintaining healthy relationships but we are still expected to make deliberate efforts to build on that foundation in love.
Join me in a 7-day challenge this week to connect with 14 persons whom you have not connected with in the past 365 days. The value of your social capital will go up by a mile.
Dr Ore Taiwo Makinde is a Consultant Family Physician and certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician.