There are so many thoughts about relationships running around in my head lately that I’ve wanted to share with you. They’ve been like little kids scrambling for the candy thrown from 4th of July floats parading down the street. I’ll tell you about a few of them in today’s episode because they’re examples of good relationships I’ve seen in action that can inspire us to relate in similar ways with the people in our lives.
But before we get into today's topic, here’s what this podcast is all about.
Welcome to You Were Made for This
If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.
I’m your host, John Certalic, award-winning author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.
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Observing a good relationship in action
The first example of good relationships in action is something I saw at our granddaughter’s tennis tournament several weeks ago. As I was getting the lawn chairs out of our vehicle, another one pulled in next to me – a couple in their late 30s, I would guess. When the wife got out of their van, she looked at me and asked, “Are you a therapist? I saw your license plate and wondered if you’re a therapist.” My license plate, as you can see from the photo in the show notes, reads “I LISTEN.”
I said I wasn’t, but that I LISTEN refers to a major theme of the podcast I do. I then asked her if she listens to podcasts. She said she does and asked the name of mine, so I told her. It was interesting that she connected listening with therapy. Good therapists do listen, of course. Good friends listen even more. But I don’t think I’ll ever be asked, “Are you a good friend to people?”
I wondered later if SHE was a therapist. I wish I would have asked her. That could have made for an interesting conversation. Instead, I started to talk to her husband as he pulled a baby stroller out of the back of their minivan. I asked him if he knew someone playing in the tournament. He told me, “no,” but were there to watch the granddaughter of one of their friends play.
Relational Sunshine at a tennis tournament
What a great example of good relationships in action. This couple supporting their older friend by being at his side while he supported his granddaughter by watching her tennis match. The couple and grandfather could have been
doing other things on the beautiful sunny Saturday of the tennis tournament. But that’s how it is with good relationships, they involve sacrifice at times.
Without knowing it, this couple spread a little relational sunshine into my life that morning. I wish we were neighbors. They just showed up for their friend and his granddaughter. They reminded me that I can do the same thing for others. And so can you.
The relationship between the grandfather, his friends, and the granddaughter reminded me of what a missionary once told me about how people could best care for her. She said, “When you love my baby, you love me…even if my baby is 23.” What a great principle to nurture good relationships.
Missed opportunities to nurture good relationships
That Saturday at the tennis tournament, I was struck by how few parents or other adults come to watch their children or grandchildren play. It’s never crowded at a high school tennis match. I can understand low attendance at weekday matches late in the afternoon after school lets out. It would be hard for many parents with jobs to get to there on time. But Saturday matches? Come on people.
It’s similar to what I experienced when our son played high school basketball. We would go to his games and get to meet the parents of the other players. At one particular game, I remember talking to one of the other fathers, mentioning I hadn’t seen him in a while, and that it was good to have him back in the stands with the rest of us.
He said, “Yeah, I haven’t been coming because my son doesn’t get to play much. He just sits on the bench. No sense in coming if he’s not playing.”
Ouch, I thought. What a missed opportunity to be part of his son’s life without having to say or do anything. Just sit and watch, even if his boy is on the bench. Just show up. We underestimate the power of showing up for things our kids are involved in. Our son sat on the bench for a while, too. But to only come when your kid is playing sends the wrong kind of message.
It says, “I want to be part of your life when you’re succeeding, namely when the coach gets you off the bench and puts you in the game. But otherwise, not so much.” This isn’t the way to develop good relationships with your children.
Tell people how they impacted you makes for good relationships
Here’s another example of a good relationship at work. There’s a small diner near us where Janet and I have gotten to know the manager. She was working the grill the last time we were there. It was quite busy, but when things slowed down, she came out to our booth and said, “I just listened to your latest podcast episode, and it brought me to tears. I’m going to go back to episode 1 and start listening to all of them. I especially want to hear the interview that you did about the wife who cleaned off the grave marker of her husband's first wife.”
What kind and thoughtful comments for the manager to make in the midst of her busy shift. I got a little sunburn from this relational sunshine.
Good relationships can be nurtured by applying what we read in books
The last relationship thought I’ll leave you with comes from a book I’m reading by Alan Alda entitled If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face – My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. You remember Alan Alda from M*A*S*H, don’t you? Among other things, he talks in the book about how people can actually learn empathy. Really, people can LEARN to be empathetic? That’s encouraging! It’s such an important part of good relationships. I’m going to review the book in more detail in a future episode. It’s really quite good.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life?
In the relationship stories I mentioned today, a common theme in all 3 is that they came about by observing.
Observing the couple coming to the tennis tournament to support their friend and his granddaughter. The restaurant manager observing how someone was impacting her life and then telling that person. And finally, observing what an author says in his book that will help good relationships develop.
So what are you observing in others? In yourself? In the books you read? I’d love to hear any examples you observe of good relationships in action. I bet the rest of our listening audience would, too. You can send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling in the Leave a Comment box at the end of the show notes.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
One way to develop good relationships is to watch how other people do it. Notice how people show up for one another, how they listen and encourage each other. And then do what they do with your relationships.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. In closing, I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice what you’ve just heard about developing good relationships.
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God wants for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/178.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.
Related episodes you may want to listen to
172: How to Develop Deeper Relationships
139: Why Should I Listen to This Podcast?
021: The Most Important Relationship of All
Last Week's Episode
177: How to Relate With High-Maintenance People
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