In every kind of relationship: personal, work, friends, whatever – in EVERY kind of relationship there are requirements of both parties involved if the relationship is going to be successful. No relationship can be forever carried by one half; both have to participate. The three things that are required are communication, motivation and initiative. Let’s take a look at all three and see how they can have a positive impact on any relationship, and how lacking any one can cause serious problems in a given relationship.
First up, COMMUNICATION. It’s important to understand that communication is not just talking, writing, gesturing, whatever; nor is it just listening, reading, watching, etc. Communication requires a minimum of two actions for everyone involved in a conversation: each person must express their thoughts in whatever medium is being used (talking as the example) and they must also listen to others express their thoughts. Conversation results and grows if both parties articulate their thoughts, listen to the return thoughts, integrate what has been said into their thinking and then articulate the resulting new thoughts. Using this model for communication and assuming that both parties understand the information being shared sufficiently to integrate it into their own perspectives, personal growth for all involved is the end result. Understanding is achieved.
That all understood, if one party in a two-person conversation only listens and never provides anything back, then there is no communication. There is only one person talking, one person allegedly listening and nothing provable transferred from one to the other. One half of a given conversation can TRY to instigate feedback by asking questions of the other, but such attempts at communication are limited for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the block caused by the second individual’s failure to provide, without prompting, their own thoughts. Sometimes there is the instance where one party speaks, the other acknowledges that something was spoken, but then provides no further feedback. Most of this is the conversation where someone says something and gets back, “Okay,” or “Whatever.” The bottom line is that one party is attempting to communicate and the other, for lack of involvement, is indicating a lack of interest or concern; they’re saying they don’t care enough to even try to communicate.
It is imperative to understand that communication is an action. It requires energy and attention and a minimum of two people who are both committed to the exchange of ideas in a manner clear to them both. It requires an interest in what the other person thinks and says and a minimum level of courtesy so that disagreeing opinions or thoughts can be voiced without any insult added or implied. GOOD communication is not something that can be accomplished by a lazy person. GOOD communication requires a minimum of two people actively engaged and interested in the exchange of information, ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc.
Next up is MOTIVATION. Let’s be honest: we’re all lazy at times. That recognized, anything worth accomplishing has to be worked for and to even get the effort started takes motivation. We can be motivated by many things. Most people I know are motivated in a big way by money. In relationships, personal or professional, motivation is necessary so that your significant other (or your boss) can see that you are actually interested in upholding your part of the relationship.
It’s easy at work. You have a job. You do your job. We all know people who “do their job” but it’s just the bare minimums and they never do anything beyond that. That failure to do anything more than the minimum required displays two qualities: 1) a lack of motivation, and 2) a lack of initiative (we’ll discuss that last). At work a lack of motivation can cost you a promotion, a bonus, or even your job if you stay unmotivated enough long enough.
But what about in personal relationships? If all you ever do is the bare minimum you think you need to do to show your partner you care, you love them, you want to make them happy, whatever… if all you ever do is the minimums then I can assure you that you aren’t doing enough. There is something in your life that you’re devoting more than the minimum effort to, and THAT something is obviously – demonstrably, based on your behavior – more important than your relationship and your significant other. If you want to show your care, concern, love, lust for or happiness with your significant other, you’d better find some motivation to do so. The bare minimum maintenance program is a non-verbal expression of one reality: you don’t consider the relationship worth putting extra effort into.
Finally we come to INITIATIVE. Do you like surprises? Some people do; some people don’t. I can’t say I’m a fan of surprises but they are proof that someone took and showed initiative. We all like that. It makes us feel like we’re more important in someone’s day. It’s clear proof that someone cares about us enough to have gone out of their way to do something for us. Surprises usually are good and cause us happiness.
Reality is that initiative isn’t all about surprises and special events though. Initiative in a relationship can be as simple as approaching your significant other and giving them a hug – rather than always waiting for them to come to you. It can be going to give them a kiss hello rather than waiting to see if they come to you to get that kiss. Neither should be the “always” event. In expressions of personal concern, happiness and desire, initiative must be shared.
At work, it’s easy to see who has and takes initiative and who doesn’t. The person who does is the one who does a little bit more than is required; the one who comes up with a new idea; the one who finds a more efficient way of doing things. Usually that equates to the one that the boss is happy to see and have around (unless the boss has no initiative and then the boss is scared witless of the motivated individual because the boss doesn’t want to lose his/her job).
When you look at all of these put together you realize that a relationship – a personal relationship – can’t stand to be without all three for very long. Yes, a brief lack of one of them can be overcome and made up for by a strong and committed partner. But take a look and think about it: If you’re not communicating, you show no motivation and you take no initiative, what’s the message you’re sending to your partner? That you don’t care to the point of threatening the stability of your relationship. And what’s worse… fully recognizing that you don’t care and the threat it presents, you don’t care about that either. In other words, you hold the relationship to be of zero value and that’s simply not going to last.
If you care about the relationship you’re in, whether it’s at work or at home, make sure you remember to communicate what’s on your mind and in your heart; be motivated about the relationship and the attention / energy you need to put into it; and take some initiative to keep the relationship strong.