and Your Key Relationships
When we say "yes" to our key relationships, or roles, in our lives we may not see just how much time and effort these agreements will take until we are well into them. Too many and we create emotional stress. Too few relationships and we have too little support during crisis.
Much of the behavioral science available today suggests strongly that 5-7 key roles is the MOST anyone can handle and still be effective. More than seven, and you start to erode trust...whether you mean to or not. This is where emotional stress starts (and ends).
Why 5-7 Relationships?
Every relationship you have will end. Yes, end. Whether through natural growth by one or the other party, moving away, retirement, accepting a new position, divorce or death, your current relationships will ALL end.
So, if you have less than five, you will find yourself with too many eggs in one basket at some point in your life. Your support system is too narrow, and will crumble (at least for a time) when one of your "eggs" is removed. More than seven? You can't possibly juggle this many roles and do them all well. One or more will take a hit. The optimal number of relationships/roles to ensure low emotional stress is, therefore, five to seven.
How Do I Decide Who Stays and Who Goes?
This determination may take time. But you must make some cuts if you have more than seven key roles in your life. Here's my example of my key relationships. This may help you see where you have said "yes" to too many roles (and why you are currently stressed):
NOTE: These ARE NOT in order of importance. They are presumed to ALL be important.
Self (which includes the Spiritual)
Daughter/Family of Origin
Small Business Owner
Looks like I'm finished. Notice these are roles or titles. There may be several PEOPLE attached to these roles. Under "employee" for instance, I have:
*a few departmental peers
*end-users (classroom participants) that receive my services
The questions to ask yourself, when determining WHO is in your key role-relationship is:
1. Does my effectiveness increase when this relationship is in
2. Does my effectiveness decrease when this relationship is
It does NOT matter if you LIKE this person. What matters is your effectiveness and how it fluctuates when this relationship is trustworthy or dysfunctional. Will your role be one of high quality, and integrity, if this relationship is in good repair? Or will it suffer if this relationship is struggling? TRUST is what you need to build here; not approval or friendship (though these are nice-to-have's and often come from ensuring trust is present).
You need people. And people need you. But TOO MANY obligations in this area is such a significant stressor, that you will HARM relationships when you take on too many. This isn't about character or getting organized. It's true for everyone. You must start saying 'no' to certain roles you play, to give the ones that matter the time and attention they need.
Go to Mental Stress
Go to Spiritual Stress
Go to Physical Stress
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