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For the most part, I don't associate with people who difficult to get along with. Being a sole entrepreneur, I am not subjected to dealing with obnoxious coworkers, irate customers or demanding bosses (although I am tough to work for but fortunately I get along very well with myself). Socially, I am free to screen who I choose to spend time with and can distance myself from those who are problematic. Family, however, is where many of us face our greatest challenge. We may find ourselves in situations with a demanding parent, a selfish sibling, an argumentative in-law, a critical spouse, or a hostile child. Having more emotionally invested in our personal relationships can make dealing with them either easier or more challenging. Easier because our love and commitment to family allows us to tolerate and/or overlook their imperfections. Harder because we have higher expectations of family and often feel disappointed in them. In both social and business relationships we can emotionally disconnect or distance ourselves completely. Family, however, is typically held in higher regard and to sever a relationship can be too extreme a choice to make. So what is one to do?
I always seek solutions to the diverse challenges life presents us with and difficult relationships are no exception. There are four key strategies to get these challenging relationships on the right TRAC. They are Trust, Respect, Appreciation, and Concern.
Trust: Every healthy relationship is built on trust. Requiring time and consistency to create, the basis of trust is honesty, integrity, and fairness. Couple that with being responsible and dependable and you have a solid foundation for a lasting and fulfilling relationship. Trust enables the other party to feel more comfortable and at ease with you and invites cooperation on their part. Trust builds trust.
Respect: The very definition of the word respect is "to value". When we hold others in high esteem we treat them with dignity, admiration, and consideration. They matter to us and it shows. Those who feel important are more willing to reciprocate in kind.
Appreciation: A primary need of all human beings, most feel severely deprived in the area of recognition. Acknowledging their kindness, thoughtfulness, talents, and efforts freely and frequently sends a message to the other party that we recognize and honor all that they are and do. Those feelings of being valued fuel their desire to do more.
Concern: Everyone needs to know that someone cares. Show an interest in how the other party feels, what matters to them, and how you can help. Validate their feelings rather than criticize or ignore them. People who care are cared about.
Galatians 6:7 reminds us that "You shall reap what you sow".
When I built trust, offer respect, show appreciation, and express my concern I am more likely to attract back to me those exact qualities. By establishing a good TRAC record I invite transformation of a problematic relationship into one of ease and cooperation. Now both parties are free to simply enjoy one anothers company. Such a simple solution, really.
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