We live in a world today filled with distractions, 24-hour-a-day entertainment and news options, and constant pulls for our attention. It’s no surprise the relationships in our professional and personal lives are sadly too easily drowned out in the noise. Yet the fact remains: none of us gets through work or life on our own.

As human beings we need to develop what I call “REAL relationships” with those in our daily lives in order to succeed at work and at home. How we manage our communication with those people will in large extent determine our success, happiness and fulfillment.

The need for this approach continues to rear it’s ugly head in news headlines almost each day where we see a lack of human decency while many who are guilty of bullying, intimidation, harassment, or worse, professing to not even realizing how their interactions with others is destructive and harmful. And we’re not talking only at home. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, in 2017, 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace and to to stop it, 65% of targets lose their original jobs. The human resources implications are staggering.

In this series of articles, you’ll get a deeper sense of what it means to be in a REAL relationship, and how you can foster that for yourself and for those you work with in your organization as well as in your family. REAL relationships can be universal and can help you in more ways than you can imagine. This first article serves as an introduction to the concept, while other articles will delve into the specifics a bit more.

What To Do In a REAL Relationship

First, let’s explore what people do and how they act toward others when they are in a REAL relationship. They:

R – Respect

When you respect someone, you are willing to listen to them and pay attention to them. You give them the benefit of the doubt and you hold them in high regard.

E – Engage

When you engage with a person you send a message that you want to have a connection. You’re not ignoring the person who when asked how they are and they respond, “fine,” but sigh quietly and glance down. You engage with them to find out more. You’re interested in them as a person.

A – Affirm

Whenever you hear someone say, “Am I the only one who…” that’s a person looking for affirmation and validation that they are not alone. You can be the one who affirms and assures them they are not.

L – Laugh

People who like each other and enjoy each other’s company generally are able to laugh with each other as well. When people identify traits that are attractive in a mate, one that almost always comes up is someone they can laugh with. That’s no mistake. REAL relationships are fun!

No matter if you’re thinking about relationships with co-workers, family, friends, or even people on social media, when you do these things, you’re establishing and building REAL relationships.

How to Recognize When You Are (Or Are Not) in a REAL Relationship

Next, let’s explore how people feel when they are in a REAL relationship. The more often you have these feelings the better the relationship with the other person. The more REAL it is, the more you will feel:

R – Recognized

Remember the TV show that ran from 1982 to 1993 called Cheers? The theme song included a line that went something like this, “You wanna be where everybody knows your name.” We all want to feel recognized. One of the things I tell my clients who I’m coaching to speak is that audiences want to feel like you GET them, like you know them, like you recognize their problems and challenges. Feeling recognized feels like coming home.

E – Energized

You know how great you feel when you’re with people who care about you. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s energizing to either be with or think about the people we care about. When you feel energized in a happy way, you know you’re in a REAL relationship.

A – Accepted

Millions of dollars have been spent in therapy by adult children who don’t feel like they were accepted by one or both of their parents, and much time in lost productivity is wasted by employees who don’t feel accepted by their peers. Feeling accepted for who you are means you can relax and simply be yourself. The saying, “A friend knows all about you and loves you anyway,” means you’re being accepted – not agreed with.

L – Loved

Now don’t get all weird – love is a powerful universal force and you don’t have to be “lovey dovey” or in any kind of romantic relationship to feel it. Think about people who say they “love” their boss, co-workers, clients, neighbors, and so on. That’s a real feeling and is the ultimate aspect of being in a REAL relationship. This final letter in the acronym is the culmination of feeling recognized, energized, and accepted.

Now, think about this: when you’re in a REAL relationship not only are YOU feeling like this, when you do the things in the first list (respect, engage, affirm, laugh), others you interact with will also feel like this. How amazing would the world be if we all had this experience of the relationships in our lives every single day, both at home and at work?!

The times I’ve shared this with friends, mentors, meeting planners, and podcast hosts they all have the same reaction: it feels like home. Smiles and warm feelings abound. And that’s the point.

Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed., is a #1 best-selling author of four books, an Internationally-Acclaimed, Award-winning Championship Speaker and Trainer, and has happy clients and customers in 22 countries around the world. Felicia Slattery works with experts, entrepreneurs, CEOs, business leaders, small business owners, and celebrities to help them connect with people on a human level, build relationships, and enjoy more effective communication professionally and personally. She is a popular podcast guest, in-demand speaker, and communication consultant with creativity and a heart for service. As a cancer survivor, Felicia’s enthusiastic passion for communication is contagious because she knows that one important message delivered with power can transform a life. Call us at 888-766-3155 today to have Felicia at your next event!