February 14th, one special day devoted to acknowledging the people we love and appreciating our most cherished relationships. The reality is that every day is about relationships—our life partners, parents, children, co-workers, bosses, customers, and even ourselves. How we respond to each, both outwardly and inwardly defines the quality of these relationships.
Paramount to any meaningful relationship is care and attention. That’s the simple secret to creating fulfilling connections. Everyone has some experience with this—even a child who has a pet dog or kitten. Most children learn lessons about caring for their pet. If it is neglected, the pet runs away, and the child learns one of the lessons about love first hand: If you care about something, you have to nurture it.
Like anything else we value, we need to put our full attention on it. Sometimes in the “courting stage”, we pay full attention to a new client or employee. But after a while (like old married couples) we may begin to take each other for granted. Instead of making eye contact when we talk, we’re distracted with our minds miles away. It’s not uncommon for people who have lived and/or worked together for a while to talk past each other. This is how relationships begin to die a slow death that leads to complacency, stagnation and “divorce”.
Last year, an interesting headline made the news on Valentine’s Day: Bill Gates Just Wrote A Valentine’s Love Letter To Warren Buffett. Surely, it was an unexpected headline, but it speaks to my message. Warren Buffett has been a mentor to Bill Gates and a benefactor to his charitable foundation. The letter was a public acknowledgment of the appreciation Bill Gates has for Warren Buffett and all the good that has come from his monetary contributions. The letter was a way for Bill Gates to nurture his relationship with Warren Buffett. We can follow his lead and show appreciation to those who are important in our personal and business lives.
So one Valentine’s Day tip that I can offer busy, active executives is this: For this day, give your full attention to the people who speak with you. Even for just a little while, listen to what they are saying. During this time, you are practicing putting your long list of to-do’s aside. You may discover after one day how much your relationships have been strengthened. Caring and attention are the key factors that enable you to connect with others and break down the invisible walls of effective communication. It might just inspire you to try it again another day.
Finally, my number one Valentine’s Day tip is to make quality time for ourselves. Many of us have been ignoring ourselves for decades; now is a good time to make amends. Find something that makes your spirit light and don’t let excuses get in the way. The relationship with ourselves is the most important one and allows us to be our best for everyone else. Send yourself a valentine card with my favorite saying: Do something nice for yourself!
If you’re looking for more ways to improve relationships and communication, Cooperperson Performance Consultants has much to offer! Call us to discuss our programs and find the right fit for you.