Handling One-Sided Relationships

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Hanlon Razor

Not everyone is out to get us. The majority of stress that comes from relationships in work and life is a combination of unawareness, naivety, and selfishness.

Sure, there are people out there in the world who we will encounter that try to take advantage of others. They will con, manipulate, incentives and do whatever than can to get us to do what they want us to do. Sometimes this can be obvious, like email spammers named Solomon sending us business proposals. But the majority of time, people are just doing the best they can do, being naturally self-centered (like we all are in some way or another) and completely unaware they are driving us insane.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being self-centered. We all individually live the world through our own eyes with our own perspectives, dreams and ideas. You are you. And I am me. You bring your unique perspective and ideas to the table and so do I.

I think 98.999%* of relationship issues come from various types of miscommunications. (*Give or take… I’m making this statistic up.)

The problems usually begin to arise at the intersection of relationships where one person (or everyone) is unwilling or unaware to put themselves in the shoes of the other and discover each others own goals and values.

If you are working for me (or with me) and I’m doing something that is unnecessarily stressful to you, them I’m partially to blame and I don’t even know it. This comes down to miscommunication or misunderstanding of what we each want out of the relationship.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

At a baseline, a relationship — be it a business, friendship, or romantic relationship — should be a value in / value out that is equal on both sides. Or ideally, our relationships should improve each other, where 1 + 1 = 3. By communicating and investing in each other in the ways we need, we are providing extraordinary value to one antlers and making each other better because of it. At least that’s the kind of relationships I want to cultivate. I want to go deep and invest in people and help friends as much as I possible can, while still saving room for my own dreams and pursuits. I help you, you help me and we both enable each other to go further than we could alone.

This starts with knowing and having a consistent pulse on what the people who you are surrounded with want in life. Otherwise, a relationship where each party doesn’t know the other person’s goals, values and struggles they are working on is a relationship that is open to friction and harm.

Communication is key here. If you are not willing to open up to others, it’s going to be almost impossible to build trust with them. But you don’t have to open the floodgates and list out all your problems and goals in a twenty-point bulleted list. Just have one conversation. Open up a dialogue. Make it normal to talk about these things.

“A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

William Penn

What do you do if you are in a relationship, work or otherwise, where someone is causing friction or even being hurtful? How do you know if they are doing it unintentionally or intentionally making the relationship one-sided?

This is super-tricky to navigate. Especially since miscommunication and expectations can easily lead us to assume things that turn out to be incorrect. (The easiest person to fool is ourselves.)

But there are a few things we can do.

Look at how they treat other people around them. Are they exaggerating and bending the truth to get what they want out of others? What does everyone (not just one person, but everyone) say about them when they are not in the room?

Open up a constructive dialogue with them. Don’t be afraid to communicate about what’s bothering you. Miscommunications start small, but often unspoken can lead to big harry problems down the road. If they are unwilling to listen to what you have to say or unwilling to change, then you are likely in a one-sided relationship. They likely don’t care about your goals and problems, and would probably saw off your legs if it meant making their own priorities and dreams happen. These are the people to avoid and drop. There are plenty of great people in the world that will enable you, challenge you and want you to succeed. Anyone one-sided relationship that’s holding you back and suppressing who you are isn’t a priority on your time and energy.

The best relationships are two-way streets where each person is giving and getting value out of it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #664

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S.O.S.

The best part about asking for advice from a trusted friend or mentor is the objectivity.

When you are facing down the barrel of a problem (or problemS with a fat capital Ssssss) you’re usually too close what’s going on to see the issue for what it is and find opportunities to solve it — without losing your shhhirt about it.

Asking for help can be terrifying, mostly because it shows you are vulnerable like everyone else. You spend all this time fortifying yourself for battle, handling problems by yourself, steeling your nerves. All the while, you’re on edge and crying on the inside, as your foundation crumble from all the battles.You wish you had help, but in order to get it you have to lower your defenses to let help through, leaving you open…

Objective advice allows you to see things for what they are, rather than what you think they are.

It’s an emotionless spark of insight on what’s going on. However emotionless doesn’t mean soulless. Trusted advice has care and concern behind it. It doesn’t come with expectations of what you should do or pity for what you can’t do, rather, it says ‘here’s something you might haven’t seen or thought about the problem.’

Advice gives you the chance to find different angles and perspectives to the problem and redefine what the your dealing with. 

A problem isn’t just a problem, it’s amplified by what we think and believe about it.

A negative hopeless problem is a lion roaring on your chest while you lay on the ground yelling, ‘why me?!’ An objective problem is recognizing that the lion is actually the size of an iPhone, and you can pick up the lion by its tiny tail and you can get up off the ground and show that baby iPhone-sized lion your teeth and strength.

When in doubt, ask a trusted confidant.

How do you know if you can trust someone? Ask yourself, ‘does this persons advice help me, or does it help them / does it make them feel better about themselves?’

Does this person’s advice help me, or just them?

And when you don’t feel like you have someone to trust, find an expert such as a therapist, or even better, someone who has been through what you’re going through.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,
— Josh Waggoner

Instagram: @RENAISSANCE.LIFE

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Related Insights

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” — Elon Musk

Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” — Benjamin Franklin

What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”  ― Maya Angelou

Good Book Pairings

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Practice Being an Ambivert

Like almost everything else, being social is a skill.

I’m what you call an ambivert — part extrovert, part introvert. I️ love being around people, especially people who have great energy leave me feeling jazzed after talking to them. But I️ also need alone time. If I️ don’t have some time for solitude to be able to think, read, write, and all-around tinker and create I️ go CRAZY.

And it’s easy to fall into neglecting spending time with friends and being social when you are introverted and get your energy from spending alone time for yourself. 

If willpower is a finite resource, so is personality traits like introversion and extroversion. There is only so long an introvert can be surrounded by people, and an extrovert can be alone without going mad. Introverts need space. Extroverts need people.

If you live in a city. When your always surround by people, you crave “me myself and I️” time. And when you are constantly bumping into people on the street, and surrounded by people at restaurants, and work, your social meter fills up. You spend all this precious time with people without actually spending I­t­ with people you care about. The key is to know how you refuel.

Even so, life is a balance of both time with yourself — and being okay with solitude — and time with others — loving, being loved — which allows you to take the full advantage and purpose behind each.

Being comfortable with just a book and your thoughts takes skill. Being comfortable telling stories in a crowd of friends or strangers, or starting up a conversation at a social event takes skill too.

One situation is easier for introverts, and the other for extroverts, but they both require practice and intentions to be exceptional at them. Both take a level of uncomfortableness to get going, but once you do they reap fantastic benefits.

My challenge to you and myself is to start cultivating at least one hobby/skill that involves a group setting if you’re an introvert, and at least one hobby/skill that involves being by yourself if you’re an extrovert.  

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“People inspire you, or they drain you — pick them wisely.”Hans F. Hansen

“Know yourself to improve yourself.”Auguste Comte

“I’m a little unusual: I’m a six-person-or-less extrovert.” — Reid Hoffman

Me Me Me! Over Here!

In a world of Me Me Me, what if I did the opposite?

What if I️ lifted other people up instead of me?

Of course, I want Renaissance Life to be huge. I want to create a massive tribe of friends pursuing mastery and living life to the fullest. But is pushing out one more social media post really going to do it for me? 

Binge reading Ryan Holiday’s blog has shown me how timeless our work can be. I’m reading his thoughts from over a decade ago, and yet there they are — fresh as the day they were conceived. What stands out most to me is not the insights (although there are a bunch of them) but the connections he made along the way. And the same goes for us.

My writing is important, but it’s the connections I make that matter.

That’s why I’ve started interviewing Creatives Like Me on the blog.
I want to create deep and lasting bonds with likeminded humans.
I want to surround myself with charismatic and energetic people who are striving to make the world a better place.

Action Steps: Focus on the we culture, not the me culture. Focus on lifting others first.

Who knows what kind of friends we’ll have if we do?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Wisdom:

“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.” — Seth Godin

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs