Relationships of all sorts are sometimes hard to build and to maintain. They naturally involve other people who are not always as easy as ourselves to get along with! Whether feisty or non-communicative, others are a curious blend of all sorts of differences that we do well to stop and appreciate with genuine interest for them and their welfare, whilst also articulating the needs we might reasonably expect from the people in our lives.
One of the most helpful principles in building relational currency is to consider how our interactions can become ‘win-win’ situations, to borrow a term from Steven Covey’s impacting book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. This concept is popularly advocated elsewhere, too. In his book The People Factor, Van Moody advocates synergistic relationships, whereas Rick Warren asks us to be people who are Becoming Better Together. The idea is that we seek the interests and benefit of others and not just of ourselves.
This sometimes needs us to find the common voice in disputes, to lay aside those things that don’t really matter and to also prefer building the future to bickering over the past. When we can be reflectors of any unconditional love and acceptance we receive from others (especially from God who accepts us in spite of our imperfections), we learn to also strip away the expectations we place on people with whom we are in conflict and to truly love without attaching conditions. We also find ourselves then seeking to understand before we are understood. None of this precludes our own needs, it just contextualises them within the value of joint benefit and this enhances our own needs, anyway.
This win-win interest in others is advocated in the Bible too. Philippians 2:3-4 asks us to imitate the example of Christ as we ‘look out for the interest of others’ and ‘esteem’ them. As with most contemporary philosophy that has a ring of truth and relevance, it has all been said before!