I have been thinking a lot lately about what it looks like to pursue healthy relationships. Like what if every relationship I was in could be a healthy relationship? What would it take for that to happen?
I was in
Mutual Respect Without Vulnerability
Now before you wonder too hard on why in the world I would say “without vulnerability” and call that healthy, let me make a few statements on where I am coming from:
- I have less than 10 (maybe less than 5) relationships in which I am truly comfortable being completely vulnerable and I am completely okay with that.
- In church work we see A LOT of people who practice the opposite of this statement and walk in "Extreme Vulnerability without Mutual Respect." I would say that this particular pattern contributes to the burn out of a lot of ministers and small group participants.
- There are countless examples where people have stepped out into an arena of vulnerability that was too large and they were not prepared for the insensitive consequences that it brought. The first example that comes to mind is Jenn Hatmaker.
- So when I say, "mutual respect without vulnerability", I am not talking about all of my relationships, just 99% of them. 😉
I have made a list. It's not exhaustive so feel free to add to it. Someone somewhere should take this as a framework for a book chapter or employee training. You have my permission.
What Is Mutual Respect:
1. Mutual Respect takes into account that I don’t know what is going on in your life right now and I need to remember that when I interact with you.
2. Mutual Respect acknowledges that I don’t know everything about where you came from or what you had to overcome that made you who you are.
3. Mutual Respect says I may disagree with your viewpoint but you are not equal to your viewpoint. I can separate your identity from how you stand on an issue.
4. Mutual Respect says you may have been really rude to me and everything in me may want to write your existence out of my head but that is not reality and I can still function around you and respect your role in my life in a mature and productive way.
5. Mutual Respect says that just because you are not safe for vulnerability does not mean that you are to be feared. If I can truly grasp that most people really are doing the best that they can then I can be free from fearing their perception of me or reaction to me. I can view their relational struggles with me as likely their issue and not mine.
6. Mutual Respect begs me to listen more than I speak. It recognizes the value of the other person and their story even when I have one of my own that I am jumping up and down inside to express.
7. Mutual Respect consistently honors the time, emotional energy, physical energy, and relational energy of other people.
8. Mutual Respect considers where someone may be in that moment and understands that tomorrow they may be in a different place.
9. Mutual Respect combats dehumanization. (Brené Brown has some good thoughts on dehumanization, and how it relates to issues like racism and sexual assault, that are worth reading)
10. Mutual Respect places compassion before judgment.
So I ask myself now - What does it look like to mutually respect this person? Here’s the deal, I don’t win at these all of the time. Heck, I don’t even win most of the time. I had someone tell me the other day that I need to be a better listener, and you know what? They were right. I also need to do a better job at relating to people that I would prefer to write off. This is me being moderately vulnerable as I tell you that I made this list to hold me accountable and I share it because I imagine that it might help another person (or organization) as well.
Happy Mutual Respecting.