The Single Best Way to Develop Meaningful Relationships

Filed in Living by on April 30, 2015 0 Comments

Coffee break

Have you ever gone out to dinner with another couple, let’s call them Todd and Sarah, and all they talk about is how everything is going so great? They both love their jobs, their daughter Mary is in advanced classes at school, little Johnny is the best player on his soccer team, and they just got back from a wonderful vacation to the Caribbean.


Nothing is more boring and off-putting than the “everything is perfect” monologue.

I can tell you what isn’t being said: Todd is cheating on Sarah with his twenty-five year old secretary, Sarah has a boss who makes her miserable by micromanaging everything she does, Mary suffers from terrible anxiety, and little Johnny recently beat up one of his classmates. Oh, and Todd’s brother got his third DUI last week and is in jail.

We all have positive things happening in our lives (hopefully), but we also all have difficult circumstances (most assuredly).

When you spend time with good friends, what do you talk about? How do you express your feelings? Are you honest and genuine?

Type A’s, in particular, have a tendency to brag about all of their accomplishments. We are very productive, as are our kids, so we have a lot of achievements to choose from. And we think that this will be impressive.

Here is what I have found when I am out with friends and I share something that is not going so well in my life. Let’s say I decide to share that I have been having some emotional difficulties, or that one of our kids recently lost their job and we are worried about them, or that one of our parents is slipping cognitively. The first thing I notice is that this revelation immediately piques our friends’ interest—finally some good stuff! It’s not so much that they want to hear some “dirt,” although that is probably part of it. I think it is more that we are now finally talking about something interesting, real, and important. Then as I proceed to explain whatever it is that is troubling me, I see forming in their expressions empathy and understanding. They really want to know how I feel, and genuinely want to understand. Next, they usually try to help if they can, either by providing a useful suggestion, or just simply by showing their concern and support.

And then another amazing thing happens: they may choose to share some obstacle or difficulty occurring in their life, which makes for more good and meaningful conversation, and we begin to develop a much closer bond with one another.

Bear in mind, I am not suggesting that you pour out every gory detail of your existence to your friends. Some things are better not discussed, and there is such a thing as TMI.

However, if you occasionally show a willingness to open yourself up emotionally to friends, you will form much deeper and more meaningful relationships. You’re true friends will respond with understanding and compassion, and you will develop the type of relationships with them that really matter.



About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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