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by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

NOTE: This article is a secondary article to
Relationships Typing: 3 factors that the affect quality and depth of friendship

As mentioned in the first part of this article, I have defined three factors that seem to determine the quality of my relationships. 1) Trust, 2) Common Interests and/or Experiences, 3) Equality.

By using a 21-point scale to rate each factor in various relationship types we can see how Trust (or the lack of), Common Interests and/or Experiences (or the lack of), and Equality (or the lack of) define the relationship. Below are seven types of benchmark relationships and how they might affect membership retention in a Rotary club.

Too much friendship?

The Star
We all have people who we look up to, but there are just a few people that we put on a pedestal. I see the Star relationship as one where the trust level is relatively high (+7 on a scale of -10 to +10) as well as the common interest level (+8 on a scale of -10 to +10), but we feel inferior (a -9 on a scale of -10 to +10) to this person. In this relationship the depth and quality of the relationship is usually shallow. These people are not close friends, but rather an admired acquaintance. A new member in a Rotary club might see the Club President as the Star.

The Mentor
The Mentor is a different version of the Star. The difference is that we trust the Mentor implicitly (+10) and we have a strong common interest (+9); however, we see ourselves as inferior (-6) to our Mentor. The Mentor has achieved a level of success that we hope reach and our relationship is based on a mutual effort to gain an equal level of success in the future. I think it is a mistake to believe that a Mentor relationship can be imposed. The only successful Mentor relationships I have observed are those that have occurred by a mutual agreement of both parties. In over nine years in Rotary have witnessed few successful Mentor relationships. When it does happen it is a win-win situation for both members, but the Mentor must be highly skilled and/or knowledgeable, a passionate person, and a great trainer. In addition, the ‘trainee’ must recognize the Mentor’s superior knowledge and have a desire to learn from him or her. If not, the relationship will fail.

A Partnership is not necessarily a friendship

The Partner
I see the Partner as a relationship seeking mutual benefit for both people, but without the level of trust of a Mentor relationship. In a Partner relationship the trust is conditional (0, not + or -) and the two people usually see the other as his or her  equal (0) or at least they have something of value that balances the relationship, but the common interest is high (+9). I would consider the Partner relationship to be a symbiotic or co-dependent relationship and while the relationship may seem to be a strong bond, the slightest feeling of inequality or betrayal can end the relationship. In Part I of this series I mentioned that the employer/employee relationship might be a partnership, but I also believe that some marriages can start out, or devolve into Partner type relationships. In a Rotary club a member who has established mostly Partner relationships with other members is likely to have no deep attachment to the club and likely to leave.

The Friend
Of all relationships, I think a Friend is the hardest to achieve. A quality friendship involves a high level of trust (+9) and a significant level of common interests and/or experiences (+6), but also a genuine feeling of equality (0) must exist. The trust and equality factors for a friendship are difficult for most people to offer to another person. It is a special relationship and one to be highly valued, but once achieved it is a strong bond that lasts over time and distance. If every member were to have only one other true ‘Friend’ in his or her club most members would never consider leaving.

The Rival or Competitor
A rival is a relationship, even though we usually don’t think of it as one. It is a relationship based on mistrust (-8) of another person and somewhat ironically, a relationship that includes a high level of common interests (+8). I think that while we may feel we are superior to our rival that the truth is that we are afraid that we are not, thus I give an equality rating of (+3) to a Rival relationship. The Rival relationship is one of the worst possible relationships that could develop in a Rotary club. Sooner or later the club is going to be drawn into the conflict or one or more members will leave because of it. Ironically, it is the high level of common interest that seems to set up the Rival/Competitor situation. Without the envy or jealousy caused by the common interest both people would probably ignore each other.

Common Interest can enhance a relationship, or create conflict

The Subordinate or Submissive
Note that with the Subordinate relationship I am talking about someone who sees another person as their subordinate or submissive. This can be an employer/employee type relationship, but it is any relationship where a person sees him/herself as superior (+10) to another person. The trust level is relatively high (+5) as the person with the bigger ego expects the subordinate to obey their wishes and typically there is somewhat of a common interest (+3), but not necessarily a significant level of commonality. The big problem I have seen with this type of relationship is that the target of this attitude may not feel that they should be the subordinate. In a Rotary club it is surprising easy for a club leader to see other club members as their subordinate. Nothing creates a false sense of power like a title and in a volunteer organization titles are meant to assign responsibility, not authority, but not everyone understands that concept.

The Alien or Blank
It seems somewhat pointless to talk about the lack of a relationship as a type of relationship, but the I find it interesting to understand that some people just don’t show up on our relationship radar even though we may see them on a regular basis. I didn’t fully understand this until I was in Rotary, but after a few years in a club you learn the some people can disappear in plain sight. I feel the lack of a relationship, when there realistically should be is a type of relationship and I refer to it as an Alien or Blank relationship.

The quality of Friendship
I would not argue the point that it takes two to make or break a relationship; however, I would argue that the quality and depth of any relationship is determined largely by our own attitudes, in concert with the way the other person treats us. Understanding the factors that influence a relationship is the first step to making positive changes. In a Rotary club, failing to recognize that not all relationships are constructive can have major consequences on membership retention.

In Part I of this series I talked about a facilitator at a meeting who didn’t want to dilute his ‘friendships’ with people in the Social Media. My response to him is this: friendship is more about what we bring to the table and not the method of connection. The Social Media is not a threat to good friendships, just a different way to engage in them.

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