Building Bonds: Strengthening the Tie that Bonds Life to Life

Why do broken relationships cut our hearts like a knife? Why do most box office hits have the element of a love story? Why do prisoners fear solitary confinement?

In the widely-accepted model of man’s hierarchy of needs, as proposed by Abraham Maslow, man’s physical needs come first followed by his need for safety. But do you know that the third need of man is so innately ingrained that if strong enough may even surpass one’s need for physical sustenance and safety? This is the reason why abused children still prefer to stay with their abusive parents and adults cling on to abusive relationships. This third need of man which is entrenched in our being is the need to be loved, to love and to belong.

Indeed, we are wired as social creatures. Past research has proven that our psychobiological drive to belong is critical to the sustenance of our overall well-being. Further studies in this area came up with parallel conclusions that people who maintain mutually beneficial and healthy relationships are more healthy— mentally and physically. This is backed up by scientific data that quantify the contribution of negative relational experiences to the deterioration of man’s body. It is therefore not unusual to hear people breaking down or lives falling apart because of bad relationships.

Science has proven that the maternal bond we have with our mothers is already present during pregnancy. We may never recall our consciousness of it  but who we are now and how we relate with other people can be partly traced to that initial relationship and to our other relationships that followed. We may be contented being a loner, or an introvert for that matter, but even if we don’t acknowledge it openly, there will always be that inner need to connect with other people for we are born to do so.  We may not be good at it now but to bond meaningfully with other people is something we can work at and nurture.

Our emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a major role in our ability to successfully connect with other people. It enables us to turn whatever good intentions we have into actions that can build and sustain good relationships. This is the ability to build bonds with people who are part of our lives and even with those we come across with. It is characterised by the ability to nurture and maintain relationships, to cultivate a wide network and to connect with others on a deeper rather than superficial level.

Needless to say, the capacity to build bonds with others does not come in equal measures to everyone. For some it’s already a big struggle to do  the first step which is to socialise. Others can start but fail in middle. These type of people rank low in this competency. Sustaining relationships and remaining in it is not just their cup of tea. As such they, most likely,

  • have difficulty relating to higher management, those working under them, their peers and colleagues.
  • fail to recognise or respond to the needs and concerns of others.
  • easily let go or sever relationships under difficult or heated circumstances.
  • view the members of the organisation as being in competition with each other; do not have the ability to be collaborative or even to be collegial.
  • are ineffective in getting answers or projects and tasks completed because there are limited people within their workplace to whom they can turn.

On the other end of the pole are people who are strong on the ability to develop good and satisfying interpersonal relationships. Specifically, they

  • cultivate and maintain extensive networks to exchange ideas and rally support.
  • seek out relationships that are mutually beneficial.
  • build rapport and keep others in the loop.
  • make and maintain personal friendships among work associates.
  • respect and earn the trust of people at all levels and all departments of the organisation.
  • respect and appreciate individual differences in perspective and background.
  • can pick up the phone and call anyone in the organisation or community, and know who to call to get answers or to slash through red tape or other obstacles.

Part of what defines our humanity is being born with that great need to love and be loved. Meeting this need should then be one of man’s most important pursuits in life. The emotional capacity to build strong relationship bonds with others can be learned but then it is another thing to apply it. External and internal factors that bombard us daily can challenge our best intentions. It is therefore of great importance that we intentionally and perseveringly act on what we desire to happen. We can start with the following developmental tips:

  • Analyse how your relationships with colleagues, direct reports and others in the organisation impact your success.
  • Ask for feedback on what blocks or hinders your effectiveness at building relationships.
  • Meet informally (coffee, breakfast, lunch) with co-workers on a regular basis, and use this as an opportunity to learn more about their role in the organisation and how you might help them.
  • Offer to help your colleagues when they are facing work overload.
  • Ask for their assistance or counsel when you need advice or support.
  • Beware of becoming too task-focused and detail-oriented; be sure to focus on people as well as tasks.
  • Attend your community’s and your organisation’s events (holiday parties, summer picnics, award ceremonies, etc.).
  • Develop relationships in your professional community by attending professional conferences and contacting key people in your industry.
  • Engage in community activities and connect with business leaders and elected officials.

We are prone to loneliness, anxiety and even clinical depression if our need to love, to belong, and to be loved is not sufficiently met.  A deepening of this need can even cause us to forego our physiological and security needs. It can lead us to wrong decisions, actions and behaviour. On the other hand, enhancing our capacity to build productive and nurturing bonds enables us to achieve our goals, to develop our other capacities, to learn and to explore. It enables us to live a productive and meaningful life  in the complex world of humanity. The choice is ours.

So, why do broken relationships cut like a knife? Why do most box office hits have the element of a love story?  Why do prisoners fear solitary confinement? By now, the answer should be pretty obvious.

Are you struggling in this area of your life? Contact us today if you need to bond with an expert as you pursue your goal to build meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.