Are people’s relationships changing for the better and will they remain stronger after the situation we find ourselves in with Covid-19?
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have close relationships with a number of people from different cultures, of different generations, of various beliefs and with individual differences. I believe that, together with the way my parents brought me up and travelling extensively as a child, these facets have set me up to be able to build relationships with a wide range of people naturally.
Today’s environment is thought provoking and what it is teaching me is that the foundation of relationships that I have been exposed to from a very early age has reinforced how important they really are.
One of the strongest relationships I have is with my older sister. She continues to teach me a huge amount about other people: how empathy, sympathy and non-judgemental understanding is so important to build and retain relationships; and maintain the respect that is deserved by all.
She is a nurse so it is quite fitting that, when I step onto the front doorstep of my home on a weekly basis to clap for all the key workers that are sacrificing their time with their loved ones and risking their own health by treating and caring for strangers, I think of her and how she has been instrumental in my respect for all relationships that I have.
I have always been a thinker, often being found ‘people watching’ and creating stories in my mind as to how others live their lives. The selfless acts of these key workers somehow makes me feel closer to strangers than I have ever done before.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
Referring to one of my favourite books ‘ To Kill a Mockingbird’, Scout is a character that many people can relate to in one form or other. She gets things wrong but continues to
learn from her father, Atticus, and her formidable caretaker, Calpurnia, who encourages her to learn manners, respect and quality, treat everyone as an equal and in the same way she would want to be treated. Scout has a different relationship with her father as she does with her caretaker but learns life’s lessons from both and learns to respect and value ‘Cal’ more and more as she grows up. I think we all have this quality and most of us choose to learn from others, as Scout did so well.
My perspective on things has certainly been influenced more than ever in recent times due to ‘Covid-19’. Judging people for whatever reason will not benefit me, my cause and how I live my life; it can only lead to resentment which is never going to be beneficial so I have chosen not to take that route. Instead, I want to better understand people’s point of view and what helps them through life. That way, I can learn more about others and how I can help them.
That person buying paint may be fighting an addiction and being in isolation is challenging their strength of abstinence or the person buying seedlings may have mental health issues they are contending with and feel that watching something grow will help their mental well-being. What may be essential to others might not be essential to me; but everyone is different and they are getting through lockdown in the best way they can.
We have all heard that ‘relationships are built on trust’ and as clichéd as that sounds I have always found that by making the effort to build upon the interactions I have with people, showing that I am authentic and do what I say I am going to do and prove that I can be trusted, the relationships that have formed from the values that I hold have been long lasting.
My parents brought my sister and me up to believe that we should have a voice and an opinion and provided I could respectfully communicate how I felt, I was encouraged to do so. It makes my relationship with both of them, individually and as parents, genuine and honest. And it has made the relationships I make with people true to me.
The idea that relationships are not formed because someone is turned off by the differences a person might have to them is alien to me. It is those differences: in values, opinions, suggestions and alternative ways of doing things that, like Scout, I have learnt can bring huge value and builds strong relationships, provided people are respectfully heard.
Is it a Generational Thing?
I have had the privilege to have known and can clearly remember two great grandparents, four grandparents and several great aunts and uncles. I strongly believe that their values and beliefs have helped me form the respect that is essential to build any lasting relationship.
I lost my grandmother to cancer on St George’s Day (poignant in itself) and her passing made me reflect on the relationships I held with my family’s older generation and the memories I have of all of them. The relationships I had with my grandparents were as individual as they were different and I am fortunate to still have a close relationship with my great aunt. Their generation has so many stories to tell, a different perspective to portray and experiences that we can all learn from.
I often smile when I hear myself and others of my generation discussing how our younger years were different and the children growing up today ‘don’t know what it was like’. These conversations are seemingly a tradition as I recall my parents and grandparents talking about the same things.
The world is changing quickly, as are people. If the younger generation share the skills they have whilst retaining the traditional values, the evolution should be exciting.
Reaping the Benefits
For me, people make the world go round. Whatever I do or say, I know it will have some effect on the people around me who will, in turn, influence the journey I am on. Equally, it is how people treat me that I remember and act accordingly. The relationships that I choose to build and work on will better me as a person because I will learn from them and build upon the mistakes I have made.
Described as naïve and a bit of a tomboy in the beginning, Scout developed into an intelligent, compassionate and courageous person with her experiences teaching her to be introspective and perceptive. It is never too late to learn and this can only help as the world is shouting for relationships to be built and strengthened. After all, it is trust that allows people to move forward and learn together.
Relationships are not immediate, nor are they quick and easy, I have worked hard to build upon them, strengthen them and enjoy what can come from them.
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