How a simple idea can help you build more effective relationships

I came across this idea recently in a book about the science of happiness and it made me stop and think about how I build relationships.

The idea is to consider if your (probably largely subconscious) aim is to build horizontal (we’re not the same but we are equals) or vertical (I’m superior to you) relationships. This idea brought me as always to coaching and the importance of asking – are the relationships you build as a coach horizontal or vertical? And just as importantly, did you design them that way or did they just turn out like that?

It’s important to give this some thinking time as the need for coaching can suggest some undesirable flaw or weakness that can only be overcome with the help of someone more experienced than you. I believe coaching is more effective when you make a conscious effort to build horizontal relationships where you help people ‘solve’ their own challenges by asking great questions. This does take a bit of careful thought, but for me it’s definitely more effective.

But outside of coaching, the thing I reflected on most about this idea is my OTHER relationships – with my family, colleagues, clients and friends. I’d like to think that I don’t compare myself to others or look for ways to demonstrate my superiority but would a conscious effort to make sure ALL my relationships are more horizontal in nature help me become a better husband, father, colleague or friend?

The science of happiness proposes that it would, and it would also make me happier. Now that’s definitely something worth thinking about!!

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