Make that relationship work
- Francis J. Kong () - October 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Have you been in the corporate world too long? You know that’s true when:

10. You’ve re-organized your family into a “team-based organization”.

 9. You refer to dating as test marketing.

 8. You can spell “paradigm”.

 7. You actually know what a paradigm is.

 6. You write executive summaries in your love letters.

 5. Your Valentine’s Day cards have bullet points.

 4. You celebrate your wedding anniversary by conducting a performance review.

 3. You believe you never have any problems in your life, just “issues” and “improvement opportunities”.

 2. You can explain to somebody the difference between “re-engineering”, “down-sizing”, “right-sizing” and “firing people”.

 1. You use the term “value-added” without laughing.

Earnings, layoffs, mergers and acquisitions are details that lace our everyday work life. But at the end of the day, the work life still boils down to one thing: relationships!

Things in the workplace move smoothly with great, harmonious working relationships. But problems arise when tempers explode, and conflicts and blame-storming ensue. Speaker Connie Podesta said, “Life would have been wonderful had it not been for people.”

I say this frequently in my seminars: “Life is simple. Humans complicate it.” Fighting family members, vengeful business people, greedy politicians and opportunistic friends undermine relationships and make life ugly.

Whether in the boardroom or the bedroom, conflicts have relationship at its core. Thus improving relationships become of utmost important. Here’s an idea on how to go about it. At best, you might think me a misguided idealist; at worst, just plain dumb. Here it is anyway: Take full responsibility for the relationship, and expect nothing in return.

Yes, that’s right. Take full responsibility for the relationship, and expect nothing in return.

Sounds awful? I can imagine, especially for business people like you and me who were trained in the corporate world to set expectations and goals, aim for the quota, reach for the stretch targets, and so on and so forth.

To take full responsibility for a relationship, expecting nothing in return, is not natural for most of us. It takes real commitment and a good dose of self-discipline to think, act and give 100 percent. But think about this: you love your kids unconditionally, don’t you? Does your love increase when your kids get A’s, but diminish when they get a C+? Or do you hate them when they fail to pass the course? Of course not!

The same principle applies to how we treat relationships that are too significant to be subjected to rash reactions and misguided judgments – relationships with, yes, family and friends, and also work associates, customers and suppliers. Here are suggestions on how to improve our relationship with them:

Show respect and kindness whether the person deserves it or not.

Separate the issues from the person. Work on the problem, not on the person.

Set no expectations. With expectations, the encounter becomes more of a transaction than a relationship.

Not everyone understands this principle, so never allow what the other party or parties say or do to affect you negatively.

Stick to all these principles.

But certain relationships can be extremely toxic. In such cases, shift your mindset into “learning mode”. Learn from the relationship – take it as an opportunity to improve your character and control your temper. Always remember: Christ loves us unconditionally. He gave His life for us even while we were still sinners.

(Get daily inspirational quotes and thoughts from Francis! Send “Inspire” to 288 for Smart or Sun subscribers and 2889 for Globe. Visit for more details.)

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