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In his book "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell describes how epidemics and trends "tip" into existence - seemingly out of nowhere - and influence cultural and social tides. The same phenomena show up in our business and personal lives. We each have an internal tipping point - the moment at which we, often unconsciously, decide to engage in or back out of a relationship. We might base this "tip" on a variety of issues: similarity to someone else we know, what we believe we deserve, how someone "hooks" us and what we expect from our connections with friends, colleagues or spouses.
There is tremendous value in recognizing our own personal tipping points. If most of your relationships are positive and healthy, this awareness will help you make the most of your relationship choices and work through any kinks in otherwise good relationships. Stuck in a rut of difficult or challenging relationships? Here's an opportunity to do some detective work about the drivers behind your tipping point.
And hint, hint: readers now thinking, "I have only great relationships in my life," should take a closer look. Even seemingly great relationships can contain facets that drain your energy.
Red flags that it may be time to "tip out" of a personal or professional relationship:
Signs of a positive relationship to "tip into" or develop further:
If you are in the midst of reevaluating a relationship in either your personal or work life, here are three different lenses through which to view them:
Change it up. Use different criteria for selecting a new business or friend. For example, if you usually jump into a relationship with both feet, slow it down. If you most often are drawn to extremely outgoing people, explore the treasures of relating to someone who's more reserved.
Be honest with yourself. If a relationship troubles you, really evaluate this person's place in your life. What do you tolerate? How does this relationship enhance your life? What do you want to say to this person? What motivates you to remain engaged in a relationship that doesn't feel right?
Notice your relationship style. Are you like a door, swinging to and fro in your relationships? Are you like Velcro - clinging so hard it's difficult to let go? Or perhaps you resemble a kite - flying high above the ground, occasionally coming back to earth to connect? Or are you something else entirely?
The bottom line: all relationships - yes, even the one with your boss - are voluntary. You can choose to engage or disengage at any moment. Whenever you think that you're stuck, dealing with a situation that is no longer healthy for you, remember this: extracting yourself may be temporarily unpleasant, but you'll feel so much better when you do.
Know your personal relationship tipping points, make conscious choices and watch your relationships transform - especially the relationship with me, myself and I!