Years ago, when I was just getting into this work, the therapist I was working with at the time used to tell me all the time, “Deb, you’re not being relational.”
I remember at the time not even fully understanding what this meant, let alone being able to incorporate it into how I was showing up.
But, what I’ve come to realize is this is one of our biggest issues (and growth opportunities) in today’s world.
So, first of all, let me explain what this means, in case this term is new to you, or even if, like me, you know the term but still don’t understand what it fully means.
Being relational means being in relationship with one another. Taken one step deeper, it means sharing what’s going on for you in relationship to another person, (I.e. – what you’re noticing or experiencing) or as my therapist would lovingly say, it’s all about “sharing your insides.” With this, it’s also about connecting to yourself and sharing what’s up for you (or bothering you) in a relationship.
Examples of this include:
– Going on a date with a guy and you’re enjoying your conversation, but aren’t sure if you’re attracted to him. If given the opportunity and he asks, being relational here would mean saying something like, “I’m enjoying your company, but, while I think you’re good looking, I’m not sure that I’m attracted to you.”
– At work, say you’re showing up late a lot because you’re having a challenge with one of your children, depending on the situation and your boss, it might be important to share this.
– In a friendship, it might mean communicating around something that the other person did that bothered you, even if it’s hard.
– In a political conversation, it might mean getting curious about the other person’s thoughts/position instead of going into “I’m right, you’re wrong” mode. Another version of this might be communicating that you don’t feel like you’re being heard.
Taken one step further, many people are living in some version of a transactional world. What do I mean by this?
We’ve stopped looking at people as people, and we look at them as what we can get from them and, really, as a means to an end. It doesn’t help living in an electronic-centered world.
A few versions of this include:
– In a business relationship, where you’re focused on someone for their money
– In a friendship (or even a coaching relationship), where you want the other person to save you, fix what’s wrong, solve your problem or give you an answer on what to do (or “read” what’s going on)
(Now, to be clear the above two are ok, if you have balance and this isn’t the only reason you call someone or are working with someone.)
– Letting go of a friendship instead of talking to someone about what was bothering you
A few other important things to note:
Practice makes perfect. You’re likely not going to initially of what’s going on for you, let alone saying it out loud. When this happens, post-conversation, I’ll envision the person in front of me and have the conversation I wished I had. (This is such a great practice for this and speaking your truth. It will completely recondition you to do it in real-time.)
Also, you communicating what’s up for you doesn’t at all mean anything about the other person’s ability to receive it, so it’s important to not get attached to their response and to feel into if this is a conversation that can be received by the other individual. (It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t necessarily say it, but it can help in setting expectations.) You might find some people show up from a passive-aggressive place, defense/attack and bargaining, to name a few. For me, too, I’ve had to let go of some friendships, as our friendship wasn’t working and when I would bring up what was going on, they would show up from these patterns, and no matter what I said or did, they weren’t really open to talking with me about it.
One other important thing to note is “sharing your truth” isn’t necessarily being relational, especially if this takes you out of relationship with another or is from your patterns. I remember awhile ago communicating something that bothered me to a friend. She ended up canceling our plans, saying that was her truth. But, she was really responding from her family pattern that punishment equals love. Instead, had she said that what I had said had hurt her, or even deeper, that she was struggling, it would have opened the conversation and given us a chance to be in relationship with each other in that moment.
For me, while I can say this part of the journey is not easy, it’s well worth it. And, I am definitely taking a stand that all of my relationships are relational. As I do this, all of my relationships get juicier and more real.
How does the above land for you? Do you struggle with this? In what area? I’d love to know. Simply reply to this email and share.