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Furnishing Your Relationships

Do you know the difference between a house and a home? A house is nothing more than a structure providing shelter. Imagine wanting to move and beginning the process of exploration to create something that in your mind fulfills your needs, desires, and dreams. You’ve found a place in a great location, maybe even in a certain neighborhood, perhaps even with a bit of curb appeal. You might even have a sense of what it could be like inside.

One thing is still certain at this point – it hasn’t become a home yet, certainly not your home. Now imagine move-in day, and even living there with each and every room set up exactly as you like it. You can finally say, “Home, sweet home.” What began as little more than a structure with potential has been transformed and made so much more. In fact, you’ve made it your home. Your life, and all that you do every day, in one way or another ties back to your home. It’s more than a place where you spend a great amount of time. It’s the place many of your memories are made. A place you keep your important files and documents. The photo albums of captured moments of your life’s journey and of others close to you. It’s also the place you collect those bills that you need to take care of, the refrigerator and pantry full of the food that provides your sustenance. If you’re a “fashionista,” it’s where your clothes and shoes live, too.

You can probably recall when you moved in, when you finally got around to hanging each picture, maybe you even hosted a housewarming party. Sharing this home with your loved ones represents your shared life, shared experiences, and ultimately a safety net of sorts. Your home is a reflection of you, along with some evidence of your life’s accomplishments and achievements. Essentially, a house is a structure, a form, but those elements inside that structure that makes it yours in a meaningful way, both figuratively as well as literally transform it into a home—your home. Once you have, effectively, furnished your house and made it a home, it becomes even more. It is in effect, a reflection of your success, earned and deserved. It is evidence of a life well lived.

Now, let’s apply the “house versus home” analogy to that of relationships. In today’s world, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn often lead us to believe that we have closer relationships with people than we really do. The connections exist, but the reality is that probably don’t even know most of them. Beyond the initial handshake, online or in person, what personal interactions have taken place? These newly founded relationships are mostly empty houses yet to be furnished by the personal touches of both parties. In order to make a house a home, an investment must be made.

Developing real relationships requires a determined and sustained effort. Imagine the “moving in” phase as it pertains to your relationships. What memories are you capturing? What are you hanging on the walls? It’s common sense, I know, but sociologists and other scientists who study human nature, culture, even social media, have narrowed down what it takes to form real relationships. They can be expressed in these four components:

  1. Time – actual time spent together, one-on-one
  2. Intensity – fundamentally, beyond the superficial encounters, especially digital ones, instead engaging in meaningful encounters of really getting to know people
  3. Trust – having a real relationship opens the door to having a level of trust where your relationship reveals more of the “hidden” you
  4. Reciprocity – mutual regard, consideration, and invitations to engage demonstrate the genuineness of real relationships

 

Do more than take business cards or accept digital invitations to connect. Put in a little effort to exchange personal messages with each new connection so you can better evaluate which new “house” might make a great “home.” It really is worth the diligence and determination necessary to “furnish” your relationships. Doing so will establish not only if you take possession of that new house, but more importantly make it that home you’ve always dreamed of having. Just as a home reflects its owners, your relationships and the personal touches they’re made of, reflect each person involved.

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