The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.

~ William Cowper (1731 - 1800) ~

Random Relationships

November 5th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 23 secs

Just being together puts us in relationship.

Just being together puts us in relationship.

Think about relationships and you might be inclined to pair the theme up with couples. Yet, to every person we have contact with we’re in a relationship.

Every day you have your fair share of random relationships. People you might talk to once on the phone or in a store. These points of contact can seem almost incidental. But they matter.

You see, sometimes what strangers say has more effect on you than the people you’ve known for years. We listen because we feel random relationships have less vested interest and also because we simply don’t hear people we are close to nearly so well (because we have become too accustomed to predicting what they say and think).

Not only that, but incidental encounters can be intense. When that woman runs over your foot with a shopping trolley and then curses you for “being in the way”, it’s likely to also have emotional impact.

Given novelty captures our attention, random associations certainly can touch you. Like the way a person in front of you in a queue, turns and says, “Go ahead. You go first” it shocks you.

Actually, that’s one of my favorite things to do. When I’ve got time, I like to do that and watch people’s reaction. This varies from stony resignation (and an averted gaze) through to profound thanks.

In public, some people consistently present as socially incompetent. They do not have the wherewithal to smile appropriately, say thank you, reply effectively to a direct question, or put others at ease. For them, the social world is a threatening place.

While others are social ninjas, having all the requisites to put everyone within the general vicinity at ease. These people have the happy knack of disarming even the grumpiest of grouches, and it’s fascinating to watch them at work.

Personally, I fit somewhere in between, like most of us I suppose. I’d like to be that ninja type, but I have obviously missed out on some of the key lessons in social mastery. No matter! What I’ve got is what I build on and that’s good enough to do encouraging stuff.

I’d like to say someone being nasty to me is like water off a duck’s back. Or that I don’t care what people think of me. I’d like to, but it’s not true. Yet, I believe a lot of our problems come from expecting perfection. When all we need to keep doing is the best with what we’ve got.

So use you social skills and put something back into your incidental relationships. Speak well to strangers and warmly to folk on the phone. Just because someone is selling you something doesn’t mean we need to treat them poorly. For we are all people after all.

Instead, see each random relationship as an opportunity to share care, respect, and a sense of camaraderie. Some will spit it back in your face or go off grousing and grumbling into the sunset. But some – a good many – will appreciate you for using the best you’ve got to offer and thank you for it. And the more you do it, the more it turns into a virtuous circle. Because one day, that stranger will prove to be someone crucial to you. While you, meanwhile prove to be motivating to many.

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