Is anything unconditional? The love between a family? A close friendship? A relationship?
Can you truly say that anything is unconditional now? I’ve been pondering this for a while and despite starting that post way before Random Act of Kindness Day, that day made me feel again the possibility that very little is unconditional, especially if you get over a certain age and family dynamics change.
And yet, I would argue, that doing things unconditionally could actually be advantageous. But that’s not the primary factor for behaving or doing things in a certain way (that would make it conditional).
One of the reasons many of us don’t answer phone calls anymore is because we may all be too aware that after the initial pleasantries have passed, which can last a long time and be genuine, the real purpose for the phone call shines through. It’s usually a favour to ask, certainly in this writers experience. This can have the affect of negating the feel good factor of the prior part of the conversation.
This can stretch far beyond phone calls and can be seen throughout life. We are more inclined to complete tasks for others or do things for others when we think there is a return for us. This doesn’t make us a bad person and if you’re aware that you fall into this category, it’s not inherently bad. But it may impact some of your relationships.
But what if we did change how we interact with others?
Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a need for transactional relationships. These are important for making sure things get done, the tasks get completed, that people are kept on task. But what if we did just interact, particularly to closer friends and family, with a few to not actually asking for anything back? Try it with customers and colleagues too.
The lack of expectation from the conversation could result in a greater emotional connection with that person. That could only be a good ting. But, it’s really important that the expectation of any return, whether short or long term are deleted from your brain. This is vital.
Give it a go. It will probably feel awkward for you, and the recipient of your message or call. But it’s so liberating. The easiest way to express this, send a birthday card. No offer, no expectation of a return. Something nice to do. And if you do need to quantify to a manager, depending on your circumstances, it’s a ‘touchpoint’ at least; that isn’t just another ask.
Want to make the contact even more valuable to the recipient? Because remember, this is all about the recipient, not you, make that birthday card something relevant to their life. Maybe you saw something on their social media or they said something the last time you talked to each other. Be thoughtful.
Is this truly unconditional? I don’t know. It’s the closest I can see in this day and age. I hope that the need to communicate with our neighbours and loved ones doesn’t always come down to favours. I also hope that expectation doesn’t cause rifts in relationships. And if something is falling below your expectation, communicate that need. Don’t fester, be open, be honest, be direct. We can’t assume that people know what our expectations are, so we need to speak.
In closing, don’t make everything a transaction. Don’t expect anything but give your time and thoughts to those around you. You might be surprised by what happens over the short and long term without expecting it – so it’s a great bonus!