Nov. 12, 2020

Project Notes: The 5 Key Elements of a Quality Relationship

Project Notes: The 5 Key Elements of a Quality Relationship

On this bonus episode, John Hendry (ep 001) shares the 5 key elements of a quality relationship. The basic elements of a quality relationship are trust, forgiveness, integrity, hope (optimism), and compassion. And while they are important individually, together they in fact substantiate the relationship.

Bio

John Hendry has committed his life to education. For over 50 years, he has worked at all levels of school and higher education including Geelong Grammar School, where he spent 36 years of his career. His passion for education is coupled with his belief on the importance of relationships. As the lead consultant at Parents Victoria, John is working on a relationship-based education, of which you can read more about it here.

And while you're here...if you haven't had a chance to listen to John's episode On Why Relationships Matter, (ep 001) it's worth checking out here.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcript

Note:The Ezra Zaid Project is proudly produced by a crack team of audiophiles and the best way to enjoy it is to listen to it. This allows for greater nuance and emphasis that sometimes may not translate as well to the written transcripts that are available to download for each episode. It would be best to cross check the corresponding audio, before quoting us in print.

EZRA

Hey folks, this is the Ezra Zaid Project. Ezra here. And I wanted to get straight into this bonus material based off the John Hendry episode. But before that, if you haven't listened to episode one with John Hendry, I'd highly encourage you to do so first. But you know, there are no hard and fast rules: if you want to dive headfirst into this bonus material, that absolutely works too. For his full bio, you can check out the show notes. But here's John Hendry, my ex-housemaster. He and I discuss here what he describes as the five basic elements of a quality relationship. Enjoy. 

 

EZRA

Talk to me about this, ‘cause we've spoken a lot about it. And there are five elements...

 

JOHN

to a relationship... 

 

EZRA

… to a relationship that are crucial, and you've broken it down in this way. But I think you also describe how important it is in that order and maybe you could just elaborate on that a bit more.

 

JOHN

So this is work by the Gottman’s and Kim Cameron and others — Kim Cameron's at Michigan University — and it comes down to five: the five fundamental elements for a relationship. Trust, forgiveness, integrity, hope and compassion. Trust is unbelievably important. And so what is ‘trust’? And all the studies of trust are really interesting, but trust is when you give yourself totally to another person or to a circumstance, you will trust it. What does that really mean? So you are vulnerable, and Brené Brown and so forth have done a lot of work on, on what is trust? And I asked how do you explain trust to an eight year old? 

 

EZRA

Right...

 

JOHN

Really, really interesting. So, what is trust? So think of your most intimate relationship, what does it really mean there? You know, I trust you. I trust all my friends, I trust. I know I can share something with them and it's not going to be used in any manner that could be destructive. Fortunately, I've been married for more than 40 years and I love my wife dearly and trust her implicitly, I do. Trust is one of those things that is unconditional, which is really important. The second is forgiveness. And this is not a religious term but it is and had been gathered very cleverly by every religion.

 

EZRA 

Well, that's true. That's true. It is a recurring theme. 

 

(laughs)

 

JOHN  

Yes. It's multifaith, if you like, and I go back to it all the time to assist people to understand. If you just look at the word ‘forgive’, it's made up of two words: ‘for’ and ‘give’. Now we're talking about a relationship here, so we take the ‘for’ off the front, and we put it on the back, ‘give for’. So it's ‘give for’ the relationship, it's ‘give for’ yourself. It's ‘give for’ the other. So forgiveness is really ‘giving for’.

 

EZRA

It's an interesting way to look at it. Because I think what people find difficulty with forgiveness is there's almost this ... this weird sense of sacrifice that you're not maybe ready to do quite yet unless it's all aligned with you internally. And in doing that, what you've just described, to move the ‘for’ onto the back: ‘give for’ — it takes out that sting a little bit from that initial configuration. Does that make sense?

 

JOHN

Yes, it does. And the purpose for people to understand that that's what the role of forgiveness is. And I asked people: “so what ritual do you put yourself through when you make a mistake? What story do you tell yourself when you get something wrong?”

 

EZRA

Gosh, I mean, that's even hard to think of when being asked that question because a lot of people don't even know how to forgive themselves. 

 

JOHN

No, and …

 

EZRA

And for those who even do, there is a ritual and but you're not maybe conscious or activated by it. It's not part of your muscle memory, or maybe you haven't developed it yet.

 

JOHN

Yes. And this is, this is where it has to be lived. And this is a really important thing. If you don't forgive yourself, then you are burdened, and literally burdened. And I've, I've spent a lot of time working with people who've been the victims of crime — and talking about forgiveness — and sexual crimes, talking about forgiveness. And if a person doesn't forgive, then their capacity to form a relationship with another person is compromised; inhibited substantially. So ongoing, they will never trust another. So this forgiveness allows you to build trust. And this is really important. So, the second major element is and is the most enabling element is forgiveness. The third is integrity. And that's doing the right thing, simply. But it's the intention of doing the right thing, because you always try to do the right thing. And I know that you as a house captain all those years ago was always trying to do the right thing. You didn't always get it right. 

 

EZRA  

Yeah, but you tried or the attempt is worthwhile. 

 

JOHN

But you tried. But the really important thing was that every other person, every tutor, every student knew that Ezra was trying to do the right thing; and that knowledge is sufficient. The intention is more important, really, than what actually happened. You were trying to do the right thing, “oh, but you got it wrong”. Yeah, but he was trying to do the right thing.

 

EZRA

What is the virtue of that? Or what is the net effect of that? That the other is aware of the intent of one's attempt?

 

JOHN

Right. The net effect is the acceptance that an error has been made, but it wasn't made on purpose. Right? So this is really, really, it's complex stuff. And this is... the whole intentionality studies are really interesting. And I should get some to you, Ezra. 

 

EZRA

(laughs)

 

JOHN

It's really, it's fascinating stuff. The fourth one is hope, and Kim Cameron used ‘optimism’, but I would prefer ‘hope’. And I was drawn to hope by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who says that ‘hope’ is active, whereas ‘optimism’ is passive. And I think that's right. And so it's worthwhile doing all the studies on hope, and looking at the studies on hope. If you're hopeful, we've got a better chance than if you're hopeless. And I've dealt with too many people who have lost hope, it's really hard to reestablish hope. So if you have a run of outs, and you lose hope in... 

 

EZRA 

The chasm gets bigger and bigger-

 

JOHN

It gets bigger and bigger, and then people give up. Or they define themselves in a different way. And this is the ‘loser’ stuff. And so this is really important. And the last one is compassion and compassion is empathy. And we've, we're all empathic because of mirror neurons and so forth. So everyone knows how other people feel. How they deal with that, determines whether they are narcissistic, where they don't care how others feel, but they know how they feel through to those people who care too much. And so, Simon Baron-Cohen’s work on the distribution of across a population...

 

EZRA

So, that spectrum of selfless and selfish, almost? 

 

JOHN 

Yes. So, what we want to try and do is to move people to being compassionate and compassion is empathy, action through care. So ‘I know you're sad, well that's your business’. Someone narcissistic, right? But if I know you're sad, and I actually want to deal with it, so I actually start expressing care, ‘how can I help’ and so forth, then I'm a compassionate person. So we have this sort of scale that exists and what our obligation as a family, as an individual, community or a nation is to move towards they being compassionate. It's really interesting when I'm finishing my address on forgiveness, I quote a really terrific... and I should have brought it with me, It’s at the end of the First World War, and Churchill is waiting for the 11th hour of the 11th. And he's sitting in his study and looking up Northumberland Avenue to Big Ben and waiting for the 11th hour to signify the end of the war. When the 11th rings, he's not elated and his wife suggests they go to Downing Street to congratulate Llyod George, the Prime Minister. They get there and he walks in, and the ministers are discussing a national election; they were going to go in an election together. And he (Churchill) interrupts and says, ‘look, the enemy is destitute’. And he proposes to send 10 fully laden ships to Hamburg. And he's dismissed. At that one moment in a Pomeranian prison. There was a German dispatch officer who'd been gassed, and he was being told of Germany's plight to the end of the war by a padre; a very upset padre. And he was upset by it. Six years later. Six years later, he decided that he would go into politics: that there was no way that the enemy was going to be kind, that they're going to forgive... And the whole Versailles Treaty indicated that it wasn't going to do that. So they took territories and so forth. And so he decided he would go into politics. That soldier was Adolf Hitler. 

 

EZRA

Wow...

 

JOHN

So this is pretty confronting stuff. So institutions need to understand and George Vaillant, who's the longest serving academic in the area of Psychiatry at Harvard, has written very carefully about the role of forgiveness. And he puts it down that one of the reasons the Second World War even occurred was the inability of the Versailles Treaty to be kind. So this is powerful stuff.

 

EZRA

It is, but it's also just remarkably strange, almost because, you know, kindness and forgiveness: I think, you know, whilst maybe difficult to do... people, I think, fundamentally get it but to act on it in opportunities where it means the most, it's almost so tough for us humans. 

 

JOHN

Well it is, but if you do the little things right… so forgive the little things, then the big things will look after themselves. It's really simple. I explained it to children by talking about a dog. And my eldest daughter had a black Labrador and she was — got some eczema because she was living in a small confined space. So, she rang me and said, “Dad, can you look after Toula for me?” And I said, “Yes, I love Toula”. So Toula came down to Geelong Grammar school, and we had plenty of room. And so, she and I became great friends. But she had one vice: and she dug holes in the garden. And Jen's a gardener: so, my wife's a gardener. 

 

EZRA

Oh dear…

 

JOHN
And this particular day, I came home from work. And this is really interesting to explain it to children. So I explain it to them. And so I came home from work, and I walked in the front door, and "Hello, Jen, how are you?" And she said "Toula's dug a hole. And she's your dog." Right? So okay, so I went out the back and Toula was down the backyard. And I used to always take her for a walk and so forth. So she's very excited I'm home. So she comes running, she gets halfway across the backyard to me, then she realises, "Uh oh, I've dug a hole." So she sort of crawled almost to the back door. I give her a bit of a cuddle and, and so she's relaxed again. She's quite happy. And then I said, “Toula come with me”. And we walk down to where the hole was. She was way back behind me thinking. And I say to children, "so what can I do to her?" 

 

EZRA

Yeah...

 

JOHN  

And they say, "Well, you should shout at her because she's done..."

 

EZRA

Right, “make sure that they know that, that hole is their responsibility…”

 

JOHN

So what would that do? Well, it would make her even more frightened. Okay, and one…you’ll always have a student (that says) ‘should belt her’, right? ‘She's got to learn, right?’ No, I didn't do that. So I took her down. And I looked at the hole, and she was a big dog. So this was a big hole. And I thought, well, I should have had a shovel to help me fill it in. But I started to fill it in, on one side, right, just pushing the soil in. Toula was on the other side and she was pushing it in with her nose.

 

EZRA

Oh wow…

 

JOHN

So I was kind to her. When we finished I gave her a cuddle. We had a wrestle, she always won the wrestles. So how do you deal with a mistake? You deal with it constructively. You don't harm the other. Right? Just so did it change her from digging holes? (pause) Not a great deal. 

 

EZRA

(laughs)

 

JOHN

But this is a reality with regards to forgiveness, right? Sometimes it doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference. But it did to me. And it did to Toula in that one moment. And each moment; we only live in the present. Each moment is important. So why do you damage? And this is really important stuff.

 

EZRA

I guess on the flip side to that had you gone down that route of scolding Toula and reprimanding her in your own way, you would make the case that that behaviour wouldn't change necessarily that she would continue to dig holes.

 

JOHN

That's exactly right. It wouldn't change the behaviour and I might feel good about it for a while.

 

EZRA

Yeah, right. All of two seconds.

 

JOHN

Yeah, so you know: punishment is an interesting thing, in the sense that punishment entrenches behaviour, it doesn't change behaviour. And there's enough studies to have proven that. So, if you behave in a way that is dislocating to them, then that's who you are. You are a dislocator. Life is relational. And within a relationship, we live by how we behave. We are described by how we behave in relationships. So you as an individual, are described by everyone that works with you by how you behave in relationships you have with them.

 

(music)

 

Outro

That was John Henry for this edition of project notes. I hope you enjoyed that. And you know if you can think of someone who might have found that useful, click the Share button on this episode and pass it along. 

 

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