WWhen someone says relationship or you start to read an article like this one, you probably think of your love life. Well, that is only a small part of the relationship machine. That’s right, I said machine.

Everyone has seen those slick little diagrams of circles indicating the over lapping of certain events in our lives. They explain how the effects are not singular events or isolated incidences. I think those round colored bubbles are far too harmless and innocent-looking to represent life. Those relationship circles should have teeth on them, like gears in a machine. The machine of our lives.
It doesn’t matter where you live or what kind of work you do. It doesn’t matter how reserved and detached you might try to keep yourself from the world at large. We are all still immersed in relationships. Some of them last for relatively short periods of time like the relationship between you and your waitress at the local dinner. Others are life long i.e., your family relationships, you and your parents, you and your kids, you and your spouse. Some relationships, like your career, may not last your whole life but they are still smack dab in the middle of it for a large number of years.

I guess you are beginning to see that that out lives are filled with relationships. To make life a more comfortable, harmonious place it is best to have the gears of these relationships well oiled and meshed together. If we can’t do that, those very same gears can shred us into confetti.

Keeping the job balanced with romance or family life and keeping the different relationships within the family spinning smoothly to everyone’s benefit can be tough thing to do.

The ability to keep all those gears turning in a safe, productive fashion sometimes seems to take the skills of a mechanic and a magician. It is not easy to handle both the physical and much more esoteric emotional needs of those in our lives. Whether it is a polite hello and thank you for that harried waitress at lunch that you may only know for thirty or forty-five minutes; taking the time to sit with your kid and listen to the story of how they got the part in the school play, being picked even over Mary Stover who is way more popular; you’re going to hear one of my favorite remedies … cures if you will, for almost every relationship and societal ill: Be Nice.

If you want to hear some complimentary words tossed in your direction, give a few out once in a while. You want to have somebody do something nice for you? Do something nice for somebody else. Give your spouse some respect; hand out a little independence and dignity to your kids. Bend over and give the family pet a quick pat.

If you work for somebody, show up for work on time more than twice this week, it puts your boss in a better mood. Show up for work on time everyday. He’ll probably be so stunned he’ll give you that raise next time you ask.

If people work for you, don’t expect them to work late every night, studies show that working smarter, not longer, increases productivity. Give your employees a chance to go home and talk to their families. Maybe they’ll show up on time tomorrow.

Being nice isn’t the fix all tool for keeping those relationship gears running, but it darn sure acts as the grease to smooth the action. Do you want to see the gears in a relationship slow to a grind? Well, the next person that walks through your door, look up at them, frown and say, “What do you want?”

You’ve had it happen to you before haven’t you? It does not promote a warm working relationship. So be nice.

While I’m thinking about it, smile at me next time you see me on the street, because I’ll be smiling at you. It’s all part of my effort to get off work on time next Friday to see my kid in a school play.