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The HEART of the Matter - by Susan Hastings

Relationships make a difference

What relationships in your personal and professional life make the greatest difference to you? Who is the first person who comes to mind? The relationships that nurture my life usually come down to HEARTS.

What do I mean by HEARTS?


Relationships that that grow and make a positive difference are based on honesty. Relationships are a matter of give and receive, and that includes knowing we can give and receive honest feedback, knowing it is coming from a caring heart. Conflicts that are well resolved in a win/win way bring people closer together. A competitive stance of I win/you lose or an accommodating one of you win/I lose or an avoidance one of you lose/1 lose, because no one will confront the issue, fail in the long run. They result in resentment and lack of respect.

No one likes to lose, and yet many people resolve conflicts in a way that may get results but damage their relationships and self-esteem. But to be honest does not always mean saying what we think if it does not serve any purpose except venting our anger. Sometimes the most honest, caring thing we can do is to be silent or not give advice unless asked for. Unsolicited usually means unwanted when it comes to advice. I find it effective to say, "I have a thought that might be helpful - would you like to hear it?" Or "Are you open to some feedback?" Or put advice in the form of a question. "Have you considered..." Or "Do you think it would work if you did this or that...?"

Know when to speak and when to be silent. Also ask, "Is this going to help or hinder?" If it will only cause pain, silence is often best. When people are offered their own silence, they usually come up with their own best wisdom.


Energy is contagious. There are people you are simply drawn to because of the energy they give out, their positive attitudes. There are others you avoid because of their negativity. We are communicating all the time - not only with our words (7% of communications) but also with our tone of voice and other body language 35%). We extend our energy in other ways. In some people's presence, we grow; in others, we wither and die. What would people say about your energy field?


This suggests that we "walk our talk" and "Be what we say we are by acting in accordance with our words." Are your spoken priorities the same as your behavior? Do you feel in alignment with yourself emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually? Years ago, I stated that my family was my first priority and my work my second priority. But then I looked at my behavior and recognized that even though my three sons were successfully launched in their young adult life, and we all do family things together, what about my grandchildren? At that point I made a point of having special outings with them, of sending them a card when I travel, and going to their games when I'm home. And I have quality conversations with my friends, even if it is long distance.


Relationships that make a difference may mean taking risks. It could be having the courage to confront a person who is treating us poorly, setting boundaries; telling someone one of the "hard truths," leaving an unhealthy relationship to be more authentic and in more alignment with our interests and values, leaving our comfort zone from the safety and familiar of the known to the fear of the unknown. I'm not suggesting we take uncalculated risks but that we consider all sides of an issue, decide what the options are, what the positive and negative outcomes could be, and then act.

What do you really want? What are you doing now? Is what you’re doing now working? If not, plan for change. Change often entails risk but without taking risks, you can get stagnant.

Any relationship can only make a difference when we can be real, to allow our vulnerability to show that we are not perfect and that it's okay. When we are real, others can sense our authenticity and sincerity. Judgment is replaced with acceptance - not of poor perfor­mance or poor behavior but for the person that we are. What a relief! When we are real, we can forgive and be forgiven, though self-forgiveness is hard. Compassion, for others and ourselves, can be a huge gift - one we can bestow.


Nothing is more important in any relationship than trust. In the relationships that matter the most to me, I know I can trust and am trusted. Any time a trust is broken, hurt, pain, and anger follow. Trust usually takes time to grow; it takes only a second to break it. But when trust is there, we can become the most of who we are, knowing that our hearts and souls and minds are in the good care of those we can trust - and by whom we are trusted.

Can we trust ourselves to act with integrity, to speak words and take actions that are congruent, to listen to our inner wisdom? And can we trust ourselves to make good decisions?


Spirit implies a connection to something higher than ourselves.
I can give more in relationships that make a difference to me when I feel a connection to a power higher than myself, when I will take the time to be quiet, to listen, to give gratitude, to ask for healing. I feel congruent with all dimensions of myself at such times - emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. When I am not connected with this Source, I am connected with neither myself nor others. This is when I make poor decisions; feel indecisive, out of balance. Where can we find the quiet to nurture our own spirit so we can have more to give? Perhaps in nature - a hike in the woods or up a mountain or sitting by the ocean.
What can you do to raise spirit at work? Higher spirit means greater morale and relationships, leading higher productivity. We can't get positive results with negative conditioning. Since our work goes home with us and home comes to work with us, if one is out of the balance, it affects the other.

You Make "A Difference" Today!

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