h1

A Bit of Advice – Relational Currency

February 27, 2021

Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com

The rise in the valuation of bitcoin has me thinking about currencies.  There are traditional currencies like the dollar and cutting edge currencies like bitcoin, but there seems to be a currency that contains real wealth that few consider.  There is a currency that gets transacted upon in every aspect of our lives but I have never heard it discussed in terms of currency.  Relational currency might be the most significant medium of exchange you handle. 

Are not relationships of tremendous value to you?

What if you were to categorize the relations in your life in terms of the currencies from the United States, Venezuela, China, Bit-Coin?  All currencies fluctuate in their valuation.  Most of those fluctuations are associated with the stability, the retained wealth, and long-term potential of the entity behind the currency.  Consider the relationships we value the most.  Those valuable relationships tend to be stable.  You can count on that other person to consistently respond in a predictable trustworthy manner.  High-value relationships are those that you can rely upon. 

I have relationships that are as stable as the US Dollar.  In times of crisis, I move my other relational speculations back into these high-value people because I know they are going to be there for the long-term.  I know other people value them. They are widely considered wise.

I have relationships that have devalued faster than the Venezuela Bolivar.  There were events that made me question the fundamentals of the relationship.  These are the relationships that I put at arms length when character issues arise that indicate an untrustworthiness.  At best, these devalued currencies have to be hedged against.

I have relationships that I suspected are as manipulated as China’s Yuan. Many people will tell you what you want to hear just to try to get something from you.  Often, the thing they want is something that you would have been willing to give without all the manipulations.  It tends to be all about appearances.  It is unfortunate, but it is what it is.  These relationships are valued for what they can provide today but the future is always uncertain.

I have relationships that are so confusing but represent such an intriguing upside that you have to play it out, just like bitcoin.  These are the folks that represent the wild-ride of life.  They will take you to incredible highs and devastating lows.  These are the folks that you can’t go all-in on.  You can have them in your portfolio of relationships, but do not get overextended on the number of these folks in your life.  They will drive you crazy.  (note: do not marry a bitcoin person)

There are two sides to every relational currency.  I control only one side.  My goal is to be the type of person that has the fundamentals of a high-value relationship.  I want other people to be able and willing to highly value their relationship with me. This goal requires that I adhere to a set of character standards which are inherent to a stable relationship.  I know that the value of my relationships can dip on the most trivial of fluctuations in an expected response.  I am continually amazed at the disregard that is often given to these trivial elements of relationship that have significant impacts upon a relationships valuation.

I manage employees.  I am not a micro-manager of employees.  This requires that I trust those whom I am managing.  It requires that I have a high-value relationship with my employees.  High-value relationships do not just happen upon the first day of employment.  These relationships are built over time.  Trust is not a right.  It is a privilege.  It must be earned.  I must earn it as an employer and employees must earn it with me.  This happens through an accumulation of a variety of signals over time that demonstrate someone can be trusted.  These signals lie among the trivial decisions that every person makes.  It is shocking how naïve people are to this basic principle.

Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

I have people lie to me on a regular basis.  They are not big lies, more like minor deceptions, mis-directions, exaggerations.  I know that they are ignorant to my devaluation of our relational currency.  I know they are ignorant to it because I often don’t tell them.  The issue is trivial but the ramifications are not.

As an example, it is very illustrative how employees manage their “paid time off” (PTO). 

  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee goes on vacation, has handed off all her projects, yet logs more work hours than PTO at the beach resort.
  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee consistently does a little bit of unnecessary work on their day off because it looks like they are gaming the system.
  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee is “working” from home but cannot be reached for hours or doesn’t complete what normally should have been done.  There probably should have been a mixture of PTO in that work day.

These trivial issues are never about the value of PTO.  It is about the devaluation caused by the doubt in the relational currency.  I absolutely hate discussions about the proper use of the trivial amount of a 1/2 hours use of PTO.  I just want to trust them.  I want to trust their integrity and honesty.  I want to trust them not because I am worried about getting ripped off on a 1/2 hour of PTO.  I need to trust them because I have much more valuable responsibilities that I hope to give to them. 

If I have doubts about their trustworthiness in managing their PTO, such a small thing, I cannot trust them with responsibilities that have significant consequences.  As an employer, I have found that employees either have integrity or they don’t.  It is difficult for me to change that.  We can create a company culture that values and encourages integrity, and that is worth doing.  However, some will just play along;  a manipulated currency if you will.   It is really hard to distinguish between the honest and the manipulative. 

Therefore, if you are a person of integrity, do not get lackadaisical on the trivial.  Do not inadvertently plant a kernel of misplaced doubt.  Do not be naïve in thinking the trivial does not matter.  Everyone’s relationships fluctuate.  The valuation of these relationships have significant implications for the future. 

The Biblical principle is true.  Those who are dishonest in the little are likely to be dishonest in the large.  Those who are honest in the trivial can be trusted with the significant.  How you handle the trivial might just be your path to the significant.

4 comments

  1. Great metaphor.


    • Thanks Mitch!


  2. This discussion was a part of our hiring and on-boarding process at my last work place. Using currency is a great way to explain it. Job had currency with God but that’s another discussion.


  3. Well said!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: