Currency of Relationships

Article by CHERYL LENTZ, D.M.

Exchange is an interesting word. It suggests relationship in the very nature of its definition. When you look at the idea of exchange, you think of currency as coins or paper money. What if you think of exchange in terms of the power of relationship as currency—the value of what you give or receive from others?

In business there is a style known as transactional leadership. It focuses on trading behavior as in a transaction, a quid pro quo, or “if you do this, I’ll do that.” The challenge is looking at the value of the exchange as investment capital—not money. Instead, exchange is the value of relationship in what you give and in what you gain.

Think of your best friend and look at the values of that type of exchange. Does your friend often anticipate what you need? Do they call just at that perfect moment when you need them most? Do you seek their advice and counsel? Do they keep score, or do they freely give whenever and as often as you may need?

What is the value of those relationship exchanges? Ancient wisdom from Greek culture addresses this question: “It is better in times of need to have a friend rather than money.”

Stop and think about how often this kind of value is out of balance! Relationships with loved ones (spouses, partners, best friends, children, etc.) are all examples of inequitable exchanges by their very nature. This is not an ideal world of even exchange—it is an interesting world of dynamic exchange. How often do you give without expecting anything in return? Do you keep score by banking (investing in good deeds) capital for another day when you might be in need?

Exchanges beyond money as currency can difficult to measure. Value exchanges—ones made by attention and assistance—are not meant to be negotiations or transactions. Instead, you go where you are needed; you act to solve a problem; you give assistance because the situation requires it—or, you do not go, act, or give in order to make a point. Leaders serve when and where they are asked to serve (servant leadership). Exceptional leaders work to understand the many factors involved in relationship exchange. Everything works better when you love without question or give without concern for yourself. This, of course, is the ideal. But why not strive for it? By doing so, you create more goodness for humanity.

The lessons you learn from knowing the power of exchange in relationship is the key to happiness and finding value in every offer, deal, or action. When you perceive value, you stay true to your relationship with the other. When the exchange does not meet your expectations, or goes out of balance for too long, you confront it with honest and then leave, give up, or abandon the relationship.

Magic can happen in relationship through the power of connecting with another when the exchange has the potential to bring healing, positive change, necessary impact, and/or influence an imbalance. The best question to ask about any relationship is: What is the quality of this exchange? Do you offer the gift of yourself and give more than you ask (or demand) in return?

According to Steve Farber, the magic of the exchange is simple: Do what you love in service of people who love what you do. It’s not about keeping score. It’s above giving more than you hope to gain, knowing that you must give to receive, and the more you give, the more it returns to you… to and others.

Focus on the power of giving and your emotional balance statement will always be in the black.