There are many types of relationships – close and intimate, casual and social, business, boss and colleague, civic and church- but they all provoke emotions and reactions ranging from love to distain, challenged, strained or just plain cordial.

People connect and get together this time of the year. Whether it’s a long-distance connection through a holiday greeting or a festive celebration, it can be a time of joy or stress, depending on the condition of a relationship. Some relationships are on shaky ground. Others, you may question.

Several years ago, I was handed a large account, a sales goal to meet and a comment from the company managers I worked for: “We’re going to cut that customer off because they keep deducting from our invoices.” They were serious, and said that they didn’t care about the lost dollar volume. “We’ll pick it up with other accounts,” they said. To which I replied:,”What if those accounts aren’t my accounts? Will you adjust my sales goal?” “No,” they responded.

I knew that I had two choices. Either I could go out and seek ways to build my other customers’ volume to make up for the loss, or I could work with the problem company and my company to see how we could patch the problem and the relationship. I chose the latter.

Getting to the root of the problem on both sides took some time, but when I identified the key people on both sides of the issue, I called a meeting at my customer’s location to bring the two groups together. After a discussion, misunderstandings were ironed out, discoveries and concessions were made. Both my relationship and my sales performance with this account skyrocketed. A year later I was promoted.

This account taught me a valuable lesson in human relations: There are lessons to be learned in every relationship, and it’s better to invest in a relationship rather than close up shop and move on. To this day, I believe this on all levels of human relations – from spouse, family member, friend, work colleague, business or church relationship. There are rich rewards in weathering the turbulent storms.

Weathering that storm requires effort, understanding and concession. I think a lot of human-relation problems stem from the belief that there’s only one way – my way, and I’m right! Over the years, I’ve come to discover that stomaching humble pie is often tough to swallow, so I’ve opted for the easier way out. I simply state that from my experience, and in my opinion, I see a particular thing this way. I may not be right, so enlighten me to your way of thinking. At the very least, dare to enlighten me!

Since the elections, I’ve found myself in some interesting discussions. I guess that’s what happens when you write a weekly opinion piece. People tell me that they’re so glad I speak my mind, or tell me flat out, “You’re wrong.” To which I reply, “That’s your opinion, and I welcome it. Feel free to enlighten me with the information that you’ve gathered.” Rarely do I see follow-up to this request.

Recently, I was among people who commented that a particular town councilor “thinks he owns the news publications.” I sat back and listened, but couldn’t contain myself. “Anyone can write a letter to the editor,” I said.

A few years ago, a comment was made to me: “If you’re going to complain about a problem, you must be willing to be part of the solution.” If you’re not willing to endure the public scrutiny of elected office and make your position known, at the very least, how about daring to share your opinion or your field of expertise, so that people can see a different perspective. In short: Dare to enlighten!

Relationships always require work. From a marriage to a business relationship, with friendships in between, there are vulnerabilities in virtually every encounter. Personally, I prefer the “open-book” type of relationships. Tell me like it is. Let me see the good, the bad and the messy. Allow me to wallow in the mess of it all, because somewhere, deep down inside, I really believe that there is a goodness to be found in every encounter, and all should be fair game to discover. It all comes down to this: Do you dare to discover either the depth of the person or the situation?