Let us be poised, and wise, and our own, today. Let us treat the men and women well: treat them as if they were real; perhaps they are.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
You, Me, and Us
During a previous marriage that was marked by an excessive amount of navel-gazing (from my point of view), I remember saying in exasperation, “It seems that there are always three of us to deal with here…you, me, and the relationship.” In fact, we are different in each of our personal, business, and other influence relationships. Each of us has aspects of our culture, personality, talents, education, experience, associations, interests, and memories that connect in different ways with different people. In this way, each relationship is unique. Each person knows and connects to some aspects of me that would surprise another person. One friend sees me as goal-directed and organized; another experiences me as a flake. One direct report finds my lack of attention to detail rather charming, making room for her to grow, while another is constantly disappointed that I need a reminder from him if he wants my input by a specific date. I have a very different influence relationship with each of them.
Influence relationships don't have to be very close; you don't even have to like one another. But you do need to acknowledge that there is a value to the relationship, that mutual respect and support is important, that “one hand washes the other.” You need to ...