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What's Changing Is the Way We Get There

March 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 143

There is a fundamental desire in all of us to be in relationship, and to develop relationships that flourish. We stress that the desire for building deeper relationships is a basic human need found in all of us. This desire is a subject that is more popular today then any other time in history. There are hundreds of books written on relationships. Television shows talk about it. Individuals talk about it. Counselors, therapists, and success coaches talk about it. In spite of the interest and awareness, and an almost over abundance of information regarding relationship, this greatest of all desires is largely unfulfilled. How can that be? Perhaps with all this information, we are still uncertain or confused as to the vital factors that contribute to deepening relationship satisfaction: The 5 R's of Relationship.

Choosing and deepening relationships are interrelated. At each point in your relationships, you and those to whom you relate may choose either to develop or not to develop your relationships further. How do we make that choice? Of course, there are many ways. One person described her experience as jumping belly first into the water. For me, it's like going into a swimming pool and testing the water first;Gingerly testing the water with toes, feet, and then slowly edging into the water. I temper my approach into the water with caution depending on whether it is a warm day in June versus a hot day in July. If the sun is shining or if it is overcast, we may approach the water differently. The same is true in relationship. We continuously feel our way along in the meeting with another. We test the temperature, gauging the mutuality and connection, and then step back to assess how it feels for us, and whether the other person or persons have a reciprocal response. A multitude of factors in our environment are considered in going forward. Sometimes, no holds barred, we jump right in! I offer the following five R's to throw into the mix of discussion around this very critical topic: Rewardingness, Reciprocity, Rules, Resourceful, and Relationshift.


Webster defines rewarding as a sense of reward or worthwhile return. We are building on this definition by defining rewardingness as an ongoing exchange and flow based on mutual benefit for all. This exchange may be in providing services or products, or sharing learning, contacts, or resources. There exists a fundamental psychological principle that people are more likely to repeat behaviors that have rewarding consequences for them than those that do not. Relationships are likely to deepen if partners can increase the range and depth of the mutual rewards they receive from one another, and if they are able to sustain a high level of mutual trust and benefits. The Relationship provides joyful experiences along the way that evoke from us and from others. This is a reward in of itself. Phil Black, a student, writer, and teacher of Gestalt Psychotherapy poses the rhetorical question "when all goals are close to equal, what determines who we remain in relationship with towards these outcomes, whether it is business or pleasure? It is the relationship itself that determines this decision-the ease and the pleasure derived. In the end, there must be joy: a laugh, a smile, or we will not find satisfaction, and we will not stay with or return to. We capture his remark and say yes, it is the reward of the relationship that keep us involved.

Reciprocity - Rules - Resourcefulness - Relationshift

Webster defines reciprocity as a corresponding and complementary exchange; the quality or state of being reciprocal. Through mutual dependence, action or influence, a mutual exchange of privileges takes place. This definition fits well with the underlying intention that is inherent to a relationship focus. Most long standing relationships are grounded in some form of reciprocity in the giving and receiving of rewards. Cunningham and Antill (1981) observe "It is indisputable that most human relationships are based on considerations of equity and exchange." Sharing this view of reciprocity as a joint responsibility enhances and deepens the relationship and the connection. Most of us are familiar with the barter system as it relates to goods or services, but few of us think of it in terms of relationship building.

Rules are defined by Webster's New World Dictionary as an established regulation or guide for conduct. The definition for the purpose of this book is to reinforce that each of us brings rules to the relationship based on many personal factors and that rules also emerge in relationship. The personal factors, to name a few, may include personality characteristics, boundary preferences, time availability or urgency, level of experience, geographical or global factors, comfort level, life focus, or monetary needs/constraints. The rules that emerge in relationship are based on the reason for the relationship, the length of the relationship, the level of established trust, and the degree of confidence that exists. Rules constantly change as the relationship changes. While the rules may become formal or contractual, they are often informal. These relationship rules provide guidelines and clarify expectations for your own and your partner's behavior. Remembering to look at these rules from time to time helps us to uncover whether the relationship rule continues to serve us well, or whether suspending or replacing it would serve the relationship better.

Webster defines resource as a source of information or expertise; a source of supply or support. resourcefulness is the ability to effectively and efficiently respond to problems and determine the resources that are important (people, technology, material, services, time, et cetera.) Resourcefully responding to the need in the moment, calls for attention to ongoing reemerging needs. This constant reevaluation helps us answer the question what is needed now; and the ongoing accumulation of knowledge, skills, and a large network of contacts helps us become more resourceful in relationship.

The spirit of the word relationshift is that a relationship never really ends; it simply flows to something else--a relationshift, becoming relevant again when time, opportunity and a mutual focus reemerges. An Oxford dictionary points to the word relevance derived from the French word relief as to lift up, to relieve. Oxford offers the synonyms aiding, assisting and helping. Webster's definition is as relating to the matter under consideration; pertinence. We bring these two words together-relevance and relationship, and further expand the definition to consider the questions who, why, when, where, and how. We have changing needs and we need to ask a host of questions as we go forward in relationship. Paying attention to relevance in a given situation will keep us on target toward developing that which aligns to what is most important to self, and most important to the other as well. In short, relevance is constantly changing. That is the very reason attention to the shift taking place in relationship is important. While the relevance of the relationship is changing in the present, it is also imperative for all of us to understand that relationships, as a whole, always have been and always will be shifting! A collaboration may end now, but may come back again twenty years from now. Relevance emerges, if you will, around a common goal. Developing a meaningful and quality relationship is the lifeblood of taking your personal and professional relationships to the next level--lifting up and helping others along the way. When we look at a relationship with these eyes, we see that we can easily pick up again as we move forward in our personal and professional life.

The process of recognizing the transformation of a relationship to something else is one of the most liberating realizations an individual can experience- freeing self up to letting go and moving on while recreating a relationship vision with the same person. In one's personal and professional life this allows for a natural transformation of relationship.


The five relationship factors presented in this excerpt are foundational to taking your personal and professional relationships to the next level. The 5 R's, rewardingness, reciprocity, rules, resourcefulness, and relationshift, support a relationship focus whereby new possibilities are continuously created. Each of these factors describes a context for the existence, the fluidity, the vitality, and the richness of the relationship to emerge and flourish. The 5 R's reinforce the importance of paying attention to the relationship based on benefits, common interests, resource identification, expectations, requirements, and mutuality. The next excerpt will describe how networking and relationship building has changed over the years. It will describe the current reality and why it is essential to develop relationship skills and discover the abundant opportunities that are possible in relationship.

Ron is the Chief Relationship Officer and founder of The Relationship Strategies Institute, a global training and Relationship development company that provides innovative, effective and relevant programs and systems for corporations, organizations, and associations. To learn more about the value of Relationship Development, visit his web site at: or e-mail him at -

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