A Jim Rohn Classic From The Archives: Basics of Healthy Relationships (February 2009)


The Six essentials that I believe make up the basics of healthy relationships.  

I’ve come to the realization that everything we do is based on relationships. Relationships make the world go around. We buy out of relationships, wars are fought over broken relationships, and we have children because of relationships – every single thing that takes place on this planet is an extension of and is driven by relationships.

Our relationships can allow us to experience the peaks of ecstasy and the low valleys of agony. They have the greatest potential to give us joy and cause us to grow and become more if we so choose.

This month we will explore the secrets of successful relationships, and we will seek to understand what ingredients make healthy relationships in our lives.

Because ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

1. Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you far down the road to healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great.

2. Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships that most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family. Those deep and meaningful relationships can bring the highlights – and the lowlights – of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing.

3. Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. And so many times we find that these relationships can provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These especially can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships. This makes the relationship unique.

4. Business Relationships. Many people do not understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times we underestimate this unique dynamic that has the potential to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think that “business is business”. The fact is that even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople, one of whom is a friend and one of whom you have never met before. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships The Basics of Healthy Relationships. Nothing can bring more joy to life than beautifully fulfilling relationships. The depth of meaning, understanding, and appreciation that these kinds of relationships bring is almost unfathomable. And, of course, as many people find out, nothing can bring so much pain as a broken relationship with someone dear to you. Yes, relationships make the world go ’round’. For better or for worse. But the exciting thing is that we can do much to increase our chances of having terrific relationships, relationships that are fulfilling and exciting, rich with meaning, joy, and love. There are basics that govern most human relationships and these basics are what I want to cover below.

So, here is my list of the six essentials that I believe make up the basics of healthy relationships.

1. Love. Now, this all depends on your definition of love. Most people think that love is a feeling, but I would strongly debate that point. Actually, the concept of “like” is really about feelings. When you say you like someone, you are talking about how you feel. But when you say that you love someone, you are not necessarily talking about how you feel about them.

Love is much deeper than a feeling. Love is a commitment we make to people to always treat that person right and honorably.

Yes, for those we become especially close to, we will have feelings of love, but I believe it is time for us to re-examine what we mean by love. We must expand our definition of what love means by including the commitment aspect of love. For healthy relationships, we must love everyone. We may not like them based on how we feel about them, but we should love them based on our definition of love above which in turn determines how we should act towards them, that is, treat them right and honorably. This is the basis of all healthy relationships.

2. Serving Heart. My good friend Zig Ziglar says frequently “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” The concept he is talking about is having a heart and life that is focused on serving other people. The Bible puts it this way: consider others’ interests as more important than your own. This is also fundamental to healthy relationships.

3. Honest Communication. In any good relationship, you will find open and honest communication. Communication is so important because it is the vehicle that allows us to verbalize what is inside us and enables us to connect with another person. Isn’t communication amazing? One person is feeling one thing and through communication, another person can find that out and feel it too—amazing.

This is a vital goal in good relationships to communicate, to tell each other what we are thinking and what we are feeling. It enables us to make a connection.

Sometimes we are the ones speaking and other times we are listening. Either way, the central tenet is communication for the sake of building the relationship and making it stronger. And here’s what’s exciting, if we just communicate, we can get by. But if we communicate skillfully, we can work miracles!

4. Friendliness. Put simply, relationships just work better when we are friendly with others. Being friendly can cushion the bumpy ride we sometimes experience in our relationships. Cheerfulness goes a long way toward building lasting relationships. I mean, nobody wants to be around a grump, do they? The fact is that the friendlier you are the more you are going to have people who want to pursue longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with you. So cheer up, put on a smile, have kind words to say to others, treat people with a great deal of friendliness and you will see your relationships improve.

5. Patience. People being people, we have an awful lot of time for practice in the area of patience. People are not perfect and will constantly fail us, and conversely, we will fail other people. So while we try to have more patience for others, we need their patience as well. So often, I think relationships break down because people give up and lose patience. I am talking about all kinds of friendships, marriages, business relationships, etc. Recent research has shown that those marriages that go through major turmoil and then make it through, are very strong after doing so. Patience wins out. Those who give up on relationships too early or because the other person isn’t perfect, often forget that their next friend, their next spouse or business partner, will not be perfect either! So, we would do well to cultivate this skill and learn to have more patience.

6. Loyalty. Loyalty is a commitment to another person. Sadly, loyalty is often a missing element in many relationships today. We have forgotten what it means to be loyal. Our consumer mentality has affected this to some degree. People are no longer loyal to a product. And unfortunately, many companies are not loyal to their clients or patrons. Regrettably, this has spilled over into our relationships. It is one thing to switch brands of dishwashing detergent. It is another thing altogether to switch friends. Sometimes we just need to commit to being loyal and let the relationship move forward.

We need a higher level of stick-to-it-iveness! This kind of loyalty will take our relationships to a much deeper level.

What a powerful and secure feeling of knowing that you have a relationship with someone who is loyal to you and to them that neither of you is going anywhere even when things get tough. Wow, how powerful!

Jim Rohn
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