It’s so easy to walk into a room, to ask someone how they are doing, and hear the quick “Fine” response and then move on.
There are secretly so many people who are emotionally hurt, silently in pain, and relationally struggling. OR, They may have just experienced a difficult conversation, trying situation, and/or confrontation that has taken their internal focus.
When I was raised, I was taught early on that when someone speaks to you, look them straight in the eyes. Some cultures see this as an insult. However, in the States we have become proficient at looking down: looking down at our phones, looking down at our computer, looking down and avoiding eye contact.
In a society that uses apps, email, text, and computers for social interaction, we are probably one of the most socially isolated societies. This is not a slam on social media. This is our issue. Social media is a great way to stay connected to people that we do not see very often or to see what good things are happening in people’s lives.
Here is the caution: remember, social media is usually the highlight reel in people’s lives. it has become even easier to hide what we are truly feeling inside. Let’s not spend too much time talking about what is wrong with us.
Here are a couple of encouragements and practical steps we can take to enrich our relationships and bring light or speak life into others’ lives. The great thing about these is you will feel even better when you do them and possibly surprised at the response.
Stop and ask someone around you (co-worker, friend, family member) and ask them how they are doing.
Look them straight in the eye and focus intently on their response.
When they answer, watch their eyes and their facial expressions.
If you sense any hesitation or emotion other than what they are saying in return, let them know you sense that things may not be okay.
Don’t spook them out!
If they respond and open up about how they are truly feeling, listen intently and offer encouragement.
If they say they are fine, but you still sense there is hesitation, let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them,
If they let you know things are going very well, ask them what the best thing happening for them is and celebrate with them!
Be prepared to respond to them if they ask you the same questions.
After you are done talking with them, jot down or take a note on your phone a reminder to pray for them.
These exchanges will become easier and easier the more you put them into practice and it will also become easier to spot in others what is known as their “countenance” and whether it is bright and light or tentative and down.
This is such a valuable skill to learn as you will begin to become more aware of others, attentive to their needs, and in the process, you will find your own fulfillment.
For more on relationships, you can get my book on relationships called The Lost Art of Relationship. You can get it in paperback, eBook and AUDIBLE!
Below is an excerpt from the book The Lost Art of Relationship: A Journey to find the lost commandment. Paperback, eBook, and AUDIBLE available at www.LOSTARTBOOK.com
I had my first “job” when I was twelve years old. I remember going to church one Sunday, and my father introduced me to a man named John Kafka. He held out his hand to shake mine, and as a twelve-year-old, I simply took his hand, but he shook mine with a death grip. He said to me, “Danny, it is nice to meet you. May I tell you something that will help you with your future?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He replied, “Whenever you shake someone’s hand, show confidence. You squeeze that person’s hand, so they know you are confident. A good, firm handshake says a lot about who you are to others.” I will never forget that first lesson he gave me.
My father had always taught me to show respect for others, not to lie, and to work hard. I still think my dad talked to John Kafka beforehand twelve. John Kafka was the president of Pollock Johnny’s, a polish sausage restaurant chain based in Baltimore, and he owned a house in a more expensive neighborhood. He was a wealthy man who had worked hard to get to where he was, yet he still wore clothes from the thrift store. He gave me a job at his house making twenty-eight dollars every Saturday to weed the rock garden behind his house and on the hill behind the in-ground pool. It was a tough job, but it strengthened my hands and arm muscles, so I didn’t have to work so hard to give a firm handshake. My dad dropped me off before he went to work and picked me up nine hours later.
I would not realize it until later, but John Kafka taught me so much about the importance of relationship. I learned that every relationship needs to be mutual; most of the time, we need to work hard at maintaining healthy relationships; and some of the most beneficial relationships can happen through tragic circumstances.
I will never forget the night. It was a Thursday night, and I had just finished taking a shower. My dad knocked on the bathroom door and asked if he could come in. I asked him to tell me through the door since I wasn’t decent. He said to me that John Kafka had just died that day. He was playing racquetball and fell dead in the middle of a game. I took the news pretty hard. I sank to the floor leaning on the door of the bathroom and cried.
Not only was he the first person to give me a job, but he was the first person (other than my father, who I consider my hero) to teach me valuable lessons about hard work, discipline, and the importance of relationship. I did not know it then, but the lessons on relationship would deepen in the coming year.
John’s wife, Marge Kafka, asked me to continue coming and helping around the outside of the house. I weeded the rock garden and all around their flower beds. It was a lot of territory to cover. I was now thirteen, making fifty dollars every Saturday.
An unexpected thing happened while I worked there for Marge. She invited me in to have lunch, and we spent two to three hours every Saturday just talking and keeping each other company. She had become very lonely with her kids out of the house and her husband gone. I always worried that I wasn’t getting the work completed, but she reassured me that her money was being well spent.
What I discovered later was that she desired relationship and companionship, conversation, and a feeling of belonging. She found it in a thirteen-year-old teenager. During a time when a teenager’s life typically becomes more about them than others, I was learning the importance of time well-spent with someone who needed connection. I’m convinced she saw me as her adopted grandson. She even let me swim in her pool on the hot Saturdays after I got done working until my dad came to pick me up. I only worked for Marge another eighteen months until I was old enough to get a job in a bookstore closer to home.
I learned many valuable lessons, such as the significance of putting others first, that matters, the importance of a firm handshake, the value of hard work, and the necessity of seeing value in others. These formed the basis of almost thirty years and counting of learning about relationships that continues today and will until my life is over. I am forever grateful to the Kafkas for teaching me so much.
I am still blown away at the strength of two people who feed off each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses. Healthy tension is GOOD for a relationship. It is NECESSARY to support the relationship! This video gives an analogy that I pray encourages you to “bridge” the gap of relationship with those in your life.
Have you ever wondered what might happen if you just took the chance and forced yourself to meet a total stranger?
How many people walk by you every day and you have NO IDEA who they are, what their story is, what brought them to where they are, and who they have in their circle of influence?
DISCLAIMER: The author takes NO responsibility for WHO you choose to try this experiment with, nor can he be responsible for the outcome, whatever that may be.
We get so comfortable with our current relationship setup sometimes. OR, we withdraw into our own bubble of relationship because we don’t want to take the risk of getting hurt, rejected, and the list can go on… This site is not meant to dive into the psychological areas that keep us from relationships.
There is literally NO END to the amount of connections we can make in relationship with people around us. We may say it’s a small world, but is it really? With 7 billion people in the world, can we ever stop the cycle of meeting others?
One of my favorite things to do is to meet someone and spend some time hearing their story, from where they were born to what brought them to where they are in life currently.
I am not always successful in getting to that point with someone, because they need to be willing to share their story.
However, what I have found in meeting people and developing relationship is there are at least 8 different levels of relationship – four of which I will address in Part I and the other four in Part II.
Seeing or Hearing
Yes, the first step in Relationship is the knowledge that someone even exists. It may be that you see someone across the room, or walking down the street consistently at the same time you cross that same path every day. It could be the person at your office or church that passes your line of sight and you “notice” them.
It is possible that you hear of this person through another friend or acquaintance, and the purpose of them informing you of their existence is because it could be a strategic relationship, or just one where it would be mutually beneficial.
This is the level of relationship where you know OF someone. You have bits of details and information – just enough to intrigue you to the point of wanting to go to the next level of relationship.
This level takes effort on our part. Just because we have seen or heard of someone, does NOT mean they have seen or heard of us.
At this level, it can be quite difficult for some to break through. At this level our fears can overtake us – depending on our past, our confidence, or our feelings.
However, if we desire to move forward in our relationships and developing new ones – we need to overcome these fears and insecurities. If you find you are having trouble in this area, it would be best to seek help, whether from a counselor, pastor or even a mentor.
The fears that can keep us from moving past this point are fears of rejection; feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or even fear of someone knowing you have these fears.
In order to move forward, whether in life, job, or friendships this level of relationship is critical.
Take the risk. After seeing or hearing of someone, and assessing the value this potential relationship could add to your life (and remember, you should be able to add value to their life in some way as well – this is mutual), jump in with both feet. Call, email, or simply walk up to this person, reach out your hand and introduce yourself. You have nothing to lose here.
After you reach this level, you have already entered into the next level.
Acquaintance literally means “a person’s knowledge or experience of something, or one’s slight knowledge of or friendship with someone.”
This level is strictly surface knowledge and experience. You may have had coffee or lunch with someone. You do not really know this person. You only know of them.
I would not place a large amount of trust in them at this point. You have crossed the threshold of relationship and broken the ice. You now know of each other and may slightly know about their background and current life.
Unless you are an expert at interrogation, you really only have a small percentage chance of knowing if this person has misrepresented themselves.
This is why you need to decide whether you desire to enter the next level of relationship. If you are going to pursue a deeper connection (whether business or personal) the next level is critical.
Getting to KNOW You
This is the level that probably takes the most time, attention, emotional investment, and care.
In order to get to KNOW anyone it takes time: time spent talking, time spent working, and time spent testing the relationship. Usually this means you have common ground with them, or you mutually will benefit from the relationship.
It is during this level where you will see clues and cues that will either raise a red flag or encourage you to spend more time getting to know them.
There is no set amount of time that works as a formula in this level. How long this takes is up to you and to the object of your relationship – this newly forming friendship.
You both need to desire to continue the pursuit of friendship. It will not work otherwise. This is why paying attention is imperative. There have been many times in my life where I have been complacent and unaware of the signs and was burned.
Don’t get burned. Turn up the heat slowly.
If the relationship is to work you need to move at a comfortable pace, the other person needs to be open to it, and know beyond any doubt the forming friendship will be tested at some point.
Then one day (it could be months or even years), you will realize that you have entered into levels five and six of relationship.
To Be Continued…
I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this topic. Thank you so much for continuing to read. You can email me or respond to this post by Commenting below.
The kids in this clip are freakin’ cute! But that’s not the point. The interviewer (probably one of the moms) asks them if they are best friends. They look at each other and then answer yes.
Then they proceed to argue over which one was two or five, as if they both cannot be the same age and one of them owns that age.
The two two-year-olds have no clue what a “best” friendship is. At this age, they spend most of their time together because the parents facilitate their playtime. They haven’t experienced enough life yet to really say they are best friends.
Has one of them gone through something traumatic where the other one doesn’t judge, but consoles, listens and carries the burden of the other? Have they been tested in their friendship and shown they can overcome any external circumstances and become closer friends through it?
Of course not! The cool thing about this video is the fact that they are different ethnicities, and they are clueless to this fact other than they probably see they look different.
There are so many different ways we could go with this conversation, especially after watching this video. However, we are going to view this from the angle of how relationships go from surface to deeper friendships and what would cause us as adults to say we have a “best friend”.
Hopefully, those who are married would say this of their spouse. However, although married, each one could have someone else in their life that they would consider a best friend. The trouble with this, is how can you have two best friends?
Doesn’t the phrase “best friend” literally mean there are no other friendships in our lives that compare?
How does a “best friendship” develop?
The only answer we can give to this is time. I would like to suggest that we can only look back over time and assess whether a relationship is a “best friendship” by the tests placed on that relationship.
My wife and I have been married for almost 18 years (in March). We have often said of each other, that we are best friends. I can assure you, there is NO ONE else in my life that I can share as deep and meaningful a relationship than my wife.
We have been through many difficult circumstances and situations. We have shared some of the most wonderful experiences together. We have learned how to communicate (well, I’m still learning). There have been situations we have individually gone through where the other has had to step in and be the strength when the other was weak.
We have had to care for each other when either one of us was sick or had surgery. We have had to comfort each other when we have experienced a loss. We have “been there” just to listen, be a shoulder to cry on, encourage, and cheer up.
We have called each other on our weaknesses or mistakes (this one took a while).
We have certainly not developed a perfect friendship (because we are imperfect and still have a lot to learn), but with all we have experienced, positive and negative, we can say our friendship with each other cannot be compared to any other friendship in our lives.
Take a look at your list of friends. Who has been a constant, consistent, persistent person in your life who has influenced you and that you have allowed in your life to speak into the darkest parts of your past and the brightest areas of your life?
I have had friends over time that met these criteria. However, there are only a handful of people I can say have truly never judged me; have seen potential in me where I could not see it; have corrected me when I was being stupid or needed to be drug out of my negative emotions; let me vent until I was done and then didn’t tell me I should feel differently; allowed me to be the same for them.
There really is no other way to determine a “best friendship” unless it has been tested over time.
If we take it one step further, a meaningful relationship can only be determined through the test of time.
It is possible to have more than one meaningful relationship. As we have mentioned in previous posts, having a deep meaningful relationship with another person involves vulnerability, trust, love, good communication, respect, and many others we have yet to explore in this blog.
Is it possible for someone to be a best friend, but the “best” part is not reciprocated? Some may immediately answer no. In a marriage, which I believe should be the “best friendship” you ever have, the answer is definitely NO!
However, in other friendships it is possible. If we live our lives in such a way as to benefit others, treating them as we would want to be treated…then it is possible you or I could be someone’s best friend without them responding in kind.
Why would I want to be in relationship with another person where it was not reciprocated? Great Question!
The answer? Because we should strive to treat all people we come in contact with as we want to be treated.
Of course, you cannot be present, consistent, and persistent with everyone. You are only one person.
Nevertheless, there are fundamental attitudes and actions we can have with everyone that would be the basis for any friendship, and especially a “best friendship”.
I am sure there are others I could add to this list.
Our relationships are built on these and other fundamental qualities. When we exemplify them others will see authenticity in you.
So what is our goal? Are we to search and find that ONE person to be a best friend with? That depends on whether you are looking for a spouse.
I would encourage you to BE the friend you desire to have with others. Practice the fundamental qualities of relationship with others. Watch for those who will only take from you and be cautious in your vulnerability with them.
When your relationships are put to the test, you will discover which are meaningful and which are not. I am in no way saying you should allow yourself to be rolled over and taken advantage of.
I am saying that if you are looking for deep and meaningful friendships, you will find it difficult if you don’t at least take the risk.
With the person you consider to be your “best friend” – make sure you are respond in kind, otherwise you will jeopardize the relationship.
Do not be like the kids in the video you watched. Let time be the test of any friendship you have with others. In the meantime, BE a friend.
Thank you so much for continuing to read week after week. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me or respond to this post by Commenting below.