Being the man or woman of our dreams can be so much easier when we’re alone. Add other people into the mix, and then the problems begin! So if we want to live in the world and particularly in the world of work, we could all benefit from becoming more skillful in the way we manage our critical relationships.

Received wisdom tells us that we can never begin to understand others until we begin to understand ourselves. So by that rationale, we need to apply the same level of engaged awareness to the way we explore other people that we do to the way we explore ourselves.

Most of us like to feel listened to even if not always understood. The way we feel on the receiving end of someone who is truly listening to us, with ears, eyes, heart and mind, can be the difference that leads us towards possibility. Reverse that, and consistently not being heard can take us to anger, pain and ultimately disconnection.

Putting the people we love at the centre of our attention is something we strive to do as much as we can. Being human means we can’t be present all the time in the way we might want to, but it all gets so much harder when we have to work with people we don’t respect, trust or even like, people who we have no point of connection with. These are precisely the relationships that benefit the most from taking our most real, honest, authentic selves to.

More often we see people working from places of assumption or projection. We make up our own narratives about what is happening in our difficult relationships rather than taking the time or being brave enough to find the toughest truths of all. So we hold ourselves back from these situations, in a desire to stay safe, we front up, fight our corner or disengage, all of which serve only to make the distance between us and them even greater.

The alternative, which we’ve evolved through our work, is to show up. We work from the simple truth that revelation breeds revelation. The more of you you show to others, the more we have to connect to. The deeper the connection the better we can work together. This is a philosophy that drives the highest performing teams as well as helping to fix the most disfuncitional ones.

Once people are able to see each other as human beings rather than by their labels, ‘the arsehole’ can be the guy that lies next to his kids when he gets home so he can listen to them breathing. ‘The ballbreaker’ is the woman who has been so driven by her parents, career, herself to achieve, that she’s forgotten what it feels like to breathe out.

Authentic relationships might not always be comfortable ones. The simple acts of being there and speaking your truth are the everyday practices that can take us from transactional relationships to transformational ones.