Choosing the Relationship over the Task

Because sometimes, the person in front of you is more valuable than the items on your to-do list

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Life gets in the way. It does.

I’m rushing in with a bag full of groceries, and so I don’t have time to say hi to my neighbour.

I have a deadline to complete something by the end of the day, and so I don’t have time to chit-chat with my colleagues. Not now, Karen!

I’m anxious about receiving test results, and so I can’t be present with my siblings and give them any time of day.

These are all real examples of ways that I’ve chosen the task at hand over the person in front of me. And I don’t like how easily these examples came to mind. In fact, I actually have a poster in my office that says ‘Relationship over Task.’ I really really want to live my life with that intention, with the understanding that my goal is always to connect. I don’t actually care about the groceries, I care about the person who I’m grocery shopping with. Yet I will admit, I have picked a fight once or twice with my mom over which vegetables we need to buy.

Why is it so easy to forget that we care most about the person in front of us. Honestly, I think it’s because it’s work. It’s hard work to pull myself out of a mood and remind myself that I have the opportunity to connect. And also, connecting with another human takes work. Emotional labour is no joke! But you know what else is no joke? The guilt I end up feeling when I’ve let something tedious get in the way of enjoying the moment.

Obviously, I want to have it all. I want to have strong relationships, and get my ice cream into the freezer in time. What’s actually fascinating is that when I googled “Relationship Over Task,” all the hits were about Leadership styles. This is super exciting, because it indicates that there are successful leaders who focus on relationships! In fact, Ferry writes about Relationship Leadership Styles, “Members of these [Relationship focused] teams are often more productive and willing to take risks because they understand that they will get support from the leader if necessary.”

I know I know, there will always be instances where my innate task-oriented mind will come in handy, when something is in fact urgent. But most of the time, my priorities fall on the relationship. So, I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, to the girl who wants to freak out over the dirty dishes when she gets home at the end of the day, that instead, this is a moment to practice Relationship focused leadership. Cheers to smothering boyfriends with love until they do the dishes!

Until next time, Friends! Xo

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