Two Different Relationship Types
I love doing stuff, making things, and being on time. My friend prefers talking, catching up, chatting and being in a good relationship with people. Why are we so different?
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time with several great girlfriends. We have children about the same age, who’ve attended the same schools, gone on family trips together, and we mothers have enjoyed each other’s company on various committees. But we are very different in the way we approach, well – everything relational! And it took me a long time to work out the difference between us. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
Some of my friends looove to chat on the phone. But not everyone is like that. Others of us, like me, avoided doing phone calls, and when I finally got to them, I usually tried to make them short. One of my friends even reminded me lately that I rang her one day years ago, and happily revealed, “I just rang to let you know I’m pregnant,” I paused, while she gasped and said something.
Then I quickly responded: “Okay, see you Sunday!” and hung up. She hardly got a chance to say anything!
These chatty friends are the “SHE’s” in my life.
SHE made a point of talking to the man at the corner shop. Whereas I’d rush in to buy my milk or bread, and rush out again. “Gotta go! Can’t stop!”
SHE just had to have a catch up with people during meetings! “How are things?” bubbled out with genuine interest, while I looked at my watch, wondering about starting on time.
SHE made sure she arrived at the school gate early, especially to chat to other parents. But I often arrived at school five minutes late – because it had been a busy afternoon – and then quickly gathered my children up, and left.
Do these scenarios seem familiar to you? SHE was so chilled . . . and wasting MY precious time!
I was quite a lot older before I understood the differences I noticed
Working this out has helped me to be a mother who treasures others, particularly my own family. But also friends, colleagues and general bystanders – people who are all part of the daily mix.
I discovered there are basically two types of people: those who are relationally-focused, and those who are task-focused.
Relational people are almost always ready for a chat.
They love to connect, find out what’s going on, and enjoy stopping to smell the roses. My mother was one of those. We would often come home from school to find her on the phone, and it would be another 20 minutes before she could talk to us about how our day had gone.
Tasky people, like me, are almost always too busy to stop.
While we are happy to relate to others, connecting is always for a purpose, and if we find out how others are during a two-minute conversation about what time the big game begins, that’s good. As for smelling the roses? Well, that’s only for having a whiff while on your way out the garden gate!
Here is a sample conversation:
Relational-type: “How’s your mother’s friend’s sister coming along?”
Tasky-type: “OK thanks. About the same as yesterday. Sorry, I’m on the way to get toothbrushes from the supermarket. Gotta run!”
Maybe that’s a ridiculous example, but I think you get my drift.
But here’s the thing . . .
- If everyone were tasky, then no one would notice when we went missing.
- And if everyone were relational, nothing would ever get done!
So, the two types need each other. Badly. AND we also need to value the others’ strengths. There is a fine balance to achieve.
Relational people, must keep in mind there are things to be done. It is a good idea to stop talking, so people, including you, can get on with the task at hand.
But equally, tasky people, like me, must remember it is important to slow down and spend time with people. Let the relational ones have their moment! It’s alright to find out how people are, even when there are tasks to be done. Ask those questions on the phone. Find out what is going on for them. It is important for you to see, hear and value others.
And an added bonus? They will like you more.
Find a happy medium
To have good a relationship with people, and treasure those close to you, it is a good idea to consciously find a balance – because we all tend to be one type or the other. That way you can be a better friend, a more valuable team-member, and a more socially aware parent.
- Because I am naturally tasky, it means I can forget to take time out with people. So, it’s important for me to concentrate on stopping, talking and building each relationship. Funnily enough, when I do that, it makes me feel quite good!
For me, I need to stop doing, and TALK (or let others talk)
- My relational girlfriend is the opposite. For her, it is a challenge to remember there are things to be done, and people who want to do them. There are places to go, and ideas to follow through on.
For her, she has to stop talking, and DO (or let others do)
So, what relationship type are you?
If you haven’t worked out yet what your relationship focus is, click on the QUIZ button to find out if you are relational or tasky.
Now I’d better get back to my life.
I’ve been so tasky this afternoon, and I must go and find out what’s happened to my daughter today!