The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

December 12, 2012

The Hard Work of Good Relationships

By Jim Hessler

Facebook, and social networking generally, is a crappy model for developing real working relationships. In real relationships we don’t give each other breathless affirmations for every blasted picture of a friend’s dog, or their menu choice at their new favorite restaurant. (How cute! Looks yummy! You go girl!). Instead we learn about the person from the inside out, and learn to establish something gritty, unglamorous, and persistently productive in our work together. In real relationships we don’t change our profile picture every week. We are known instead for the quality and character of our everyday presence, both good and bad, over time. In real relationships, we can’t “unfriend” someone who irritates us. We have to do the hard work of busting through the inherent difficulties of getting along, and find something to attach to – even like—about the vast majority of people we engage with – especially at work.  In a great relationship, at home or at work, “like” might not have anything to do with it. As much as we’d like to limit our contact with others to something that we can always control with a few swipes of our fingers, we have to do the hard work of finding common ground, dealing with perceived and real insults, competing for resources and sponsorship, and overcoming style differences. We need to understand that convenience, speed, and personal “branding” have little to do with the real work of developing true regard, depth, and sustainability in our relationships. I am a somewhat active social networker. I have it on good authority that I must be in order to succeed these days. And I do fully appreciate the easy availability of seeing my grandchildren’s last new trick or cute outfit. But it’s no substitute for a real relationship. I don’t want my relationship with anyone to consist primarily of packaged sound and video bites. Great relationships are hard work, and that’s the richness within them. Facebook? I don’t feel loved and known and connected by it. Not much. Give me a single good conversation and a cup of coffee over any 50 Facebook posts any day of the week.


About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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