Relationships are not a balancing game

A relationship is something that has to come from both sides. However, relationships do not have to be balanced, and relationships could even get ruined when you assume it should be a 50-50 split and keep score. It is not a business agreement where both parties should put in an equal amount to receive an equal return.

Care about others AND yourself

One of the elements of human nature is caring for others. However, think also of “putting your oxygen mask on first”. That is another element of human nature: self-interest. You can care about others, but if there is nothing in return, you might want to move out in the longer run.

Otherish

Being otherish means being willing to give more than you receive, but still keeping your own interests in sight, using them as a guide for choosing when, where, how, and to whom you give. Being otherish is very different from matching. Matchers expect something back from each person they help. Otherish givers help with no strings attached; they’re just careful not to overextend themselves along the way.

Adam Grant

It is not a matter of keeping score. There can be a moment when you think you did enough, and now the other person needs to step up. If you reach that point, it might not be that the other person needs to step up. It might be that the relationship is over.

When you are the one who always has to invite the other for dinner or a meeting, make it happen for everybody getting together. It is only wrong if you do not get anything out of it for yourself over time. If you enjoy being together, why not invest your time in hanging out?

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Make an effort to understand others

Often we let understanding boil down to a decision whether we agree or not with somebody’s viewpoints. Whether you agree or disagree with somebody is less important than whether you know and understand what you agree or disagree on.

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant

Robert McCloskey

Understanding is more than listening alone. It is digging deeper to understand the meaning. Sometimes, the topics not mentioned are the key messages. The only way to get to those unsaid topics is to ask about them and be willing to explore.

Test your understanding

Summarizing is a way to share with somebody else that you listened to them by playing back to them what they have just said in condensed form. However, did you understand them?

Ask yourself “Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language.”

Richard Feynman

I love the challenge of Feynman in this quote, which is about the difference between “knowing” and “understanding”. Do you understand the other person, or are you just regurgitating their words to prove you have recorded their messages to your knowledge archive?

Understanding is not about checking if you are right and fits your worldview or recording other people’s statements. It is about exploring where somebody is coming from and being willing to change your mind, or at least keep an open mind and accept that you might be wrong.

Knowing where somebody is with their viewpoints is less than half the story. Willing to explore why somebody is there with their views create the essential pieces to an accurate understanding.

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Be nice

Nobody ever disliked a nice person. Being nice is the most simple skill to build and use in your daily life. Being nice is its own reward most of the time.

One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells.

Mark Cuban
  • If you need help, to whom would you instead go? The nice person.
  • If you want advice, to whom would you instead go? The nice person.
  • If you want to catch up, to who would you instead go? The nice person.

People like nice people. Do not confuse being nice with being slimy, with somebody who constantly does lip service, who tells you what you want to hear. None of these things is about being nice. It might look nice and feel nice, though people will see through it and know it is disingenuous. People do not like deceitful people.

Don’t hold back

If you are nice, it doesn’t mean that you need to hold back. You can be nice and honest, nice and direct, nice and open, nice and disagreeable. It is how you behave. It is how much you care about the other. Since if you are just honest but not nice, you are just being mean.

Be nice. It doesn’t cost you anything extra. Niceness might be the best investment in your career. If you can interact with people, give them a good feeling, and resolve conflicts in a manner both parties value, you become an even more precious person.

Over time, your valuation pays out. Unfriendly people only go so far. Niceness has endless longevity. And as with most investments, time in the market beats timing in the market.

Be nice in 2022.