Relationship = Connection
Recently, a client of mine that had also become a friend, died. He had surgery for a brain tumor a couple of years ago and last year the tumor was back. He was only 52 and leaves a wife and a young son. Tears sprang to my eyes as soon as I heard he was gone.
I couldn’t go to the funeral in New Jersey where they have a home, so I went to the first evening the family held Shiva near their apartment on the Upper West Side. I put the appetizers I had brought on the table that was already abundantly full of food for everyone to eat later that evening.
After I embraced his wife, who had also been my coaching client before they were married, I saw the photos of him that had been put on large poster boards and I cried again to see him looking so happy and wearing a lot of different hats, including a huge Mexican sombrero. On a table beside the sofa was a formal photo from their wedding which I attended at a charming Inn near the Delaware River on a lovely summer day, about 14 years ago.
When the rooms had filled up with many of his son’s classmates, their parents, people from his company where he held an important position, and friends, their Rabbi came in and began a service, reading and singing in Hebrew from a book that was passed out to all of us. Even though I did not understand what was being sung or said, I could hum along and I benefited from the soulful mood created. Then the Rabbi asked if anyone would like to speak about the departed.
I was surprised when I raised my hand to speak after the wife and son had shared about him, but I was particularly moved to share the realization I had while attending Shiva that evening. I pointed out that my client/friend had worked very hard to become successful and he was willing to do whatever it took to take care of his family. I also mentioned how he had helped me design and publish my first book.
A close relative of mine had died a month earlier and I had not cried at all. I mentioned that and how I felt I was never able to have a “relationship” with that relative. Then I told the roomful of people that I now knew why I cried so easily for their father, husband and friend. I said he was so special to me because he was the kind of person we were all able to have a relationship with. Knowing someone is totally different than being able to have a real relationship with a person.
Simple Definition of relationship from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
: the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other
: the way in which two or more people or things are connected
: a romantic or sexual friendship between two people
I particularly like the second definition of relationship: the way in which two or more people or things are connected. Relationship infers having a real connection, not just a passing acquaintance. That is why my client was able to do so well with coaching. He formed a relationship with me that he trusted, then allowed himself to absorb the new skills available to him and went out and created new relationships in his business world. In most businesses, building relationships is just as important as skills and knowledge of the position.
The wonderful contribution that can be made with relationship beyond activities with individuals is covered in the first definition. Relationship is what allows more people, groups and even countries deal with each other.
Being connected to other people will not leave you untouched, tears when they leave your life are a sure sign that you had a relationship.