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Healthy and conscious relationships are open, honest, safe and trustworthy, where people are acting and be-ing in integrity. One of the major foundation blocks of open, safe and trusting relationships is that of keeping agreements.
The foundation of healthy relationships begins to atrophy and crumble when one feels betrayed. One feels betrayed when another fails to commit to or keep agreements.
What is an agreement?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines agreement as: when people approve of or accept something; a decision or arrangement between two or more groups or people.
The purpose of an agreement is to engender harmony so that two or more folks can engage in an interaction without any subterfuge, hidden agenda, duplicity or lack of transparency. An agreement is effective only insofar as it comes from a deeper, internal place of motivation. Seems simple enough.
Yet, our life at work, at home, at play and/or in relationship often seems rife with dis-agreements, betrayals, dishonesty, being out of integrity, and disharmony. Why?
The underlying cause of one’s not living up to one’s agreements is that often one enters into an agreement knowing that one’s true desire for, and commitment to, an agreement is halfhearted.
Often people enter agreements because (1) they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t enter the agreement; (2) they want to feel safe in some way – mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, socially, financially, etc.; (3) they are “giving to get,” that is, agreeing, in order to achieve some personal, self-centered goal; or (4) they want to avoid the discomfort of disagreement or conflict so they agree to “go along to get along.” Such agreements never come from the “right place” – the place of integrity, trust and authenticity.
Whenever the excuse for entering an agreement comes from a place of duplicity, follow-through with consistency, taking the high road, and being in integrity never happens.
Agreements, in and of themselves, never lead to safety, trust and harmony. Acting on agreements, consistently, is what leads to safety, trust and dependability. Effective agreements are always built on a clear purpose that leads to action.
When agreements work
For agreements to work, that is, for agreements to generate safety, trust, harmony and dependability, one needs to reflect, deeply, consciously and from one’s heart, and inquire: “Why am I agreeing to this?” “Really, really, really, why?” “What is the true and real purpose underlying this agreement?” Without a deep sense of clarity, most agreements self-destruct sooner rather than later. The fallout and collateral damage from failed agreements can be quite extensive – mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and psychologically.
Once an agreement is broken, the first thing to erode is trust, followed by feelings or emotions around betrayal, fear, resentment, blame, guilt, and shame – apologies and “making up for the broken agreement,” notwithstanding. The level of trust can almost never be regained to the degree that it existed when the agreement was made. Without trust, there is no honest, safe, authentic and healthy relationship. Just toxicity, and a low-level-fever-grade type of agitation, fear, vigilance, unspoken, but felt, sense of guilt or shame, and a continual watching of one’s back.
When you create agreements that reflect integrity, authenticity, heart-felt purpose and accountability for one’s actions, you are creating an environment/culture that exudes safety, trust, harmony and well-being. Performance and conscious, healthy relationships grow and thrive in such environments.
Some questions for self-reflection:
- How would you characterize your relationships at work, at home and at play? Healthy, authentic, in integrity, trusting, duplicitous, fake, phony…?
- Do you honor and keep your agreements, consistently? What would your boss, colleagues, direct reports, clients, friends, spouse/partner say?
- Do you find yourself apologizing regularly for not keeping your agreements? How so? Why?
- Do you apologize when you break agreements?
- Do you create agreements with a win-win, or win(me)-lose(other) motive?
- Do you generally blame others when agreements break down? How so?
- What is the level of trust in your relationships? If low, how can you increase the level of trust?
- Have you ever been betrayed as a child? Do you enter agreements with a feeling that you’ll be betrayed at some point? Is trusting others a challenge for you? Why?
- Is intimacy a common issue in your relationships? How so?
- Are your relationships characterized by communication and openness? If not, why not?
- All of your failed relationships have one common denominator – you. Have you ever reflected on that notion?
- How much do you trust people?
- Do you believe that work is largely “political?” If so, why?
- Are you continually vigilant of who are your allies, opponents, adversaries, and “friends” at work? Why?
(c) 2022, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.
What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering