A Coaching Power Tool created by Tamara Lebak
(Diversity Coach, UNITED STATES)
Every relationship that we encounter, no matter how brief, is an opportunity. How we view this opportunity can greatly impact the way in which we choose to relate to the other person and how effective we will be in managing that relationship.
Strategic Interactions are the ways in which individuals exchange influence when the goal is to accomplish a specific task. (Sonia M. Nevis, 2003)
Intimate relationships are focused more on the development of the relationship itself and the thoughts and emotions of the persons involved. Intimacy and Strategy are both seeking to maintain connection. All relationships require a balance of strategy and intimacy depending on their culture, history, power dynamic, and purpose. Understanding the constant pull between strategy and intimacy in a relationship will help us to maintain that relationship with integrity.
Strategy In Relationships
Strategic relationships are task focused. This is most easily recognizable in a transactional relationship where the task is typically mutually agreed upon. Examples of transactional relationships can be most simply seen as a relationship between a customer and an employee. These might include your relationship with: a cashier at a store, a customer service representative for a credit card, a loan officer, a waiter at a restaurant, etc. All of these relationships assume a task of a transactional exchange: products, information, money, food, etc. In transactional relationships the task is ahead of the feelings or thoughts of either person and a “How are you today?” is more about pleasantries then actually honestly answering the question. A more appropriate question for transactional relationships would be “How can I help you?” The transactional relationship takes into account the roles of those involved and assumes transparency of the purpose of the relationship.
Most transactional relationships are temporary and maintained for the purpose of the completed task and likely don’t survive the removal of a common task. In a strategic relationship, if hierarchy is present it is often used to complete the task.
In professional relationships, strategy is both long term and immediate. There is the task at hand in any given situation as well as the ongoing and long range task of how each person assists the other in being successful in their position. Keeping sight of both long range and immediate goals will assist you in being intentional about interactions at this level. In strategic professional relationships, different cultural circumstances require certain amounts of interaction outside the typical task focus. Socializing, dining together, holiday parties and even personal tragedies require a level of intimate engagement that can confuse the status of a strategic relationship. Intimacy in strategic relationships, if not done authentically can come across as manipulative leaving others to feel like an object or used.
Intimate relationships are focused on the relationship itself, building connection based not on the completion of a task but rather on the exchange of feelings and thoughts. Friends and spouses would fall into the intimate category. Intimate relationships typically benefit from a balance of power.
In personal relationships, intimacy is both long term and immediate. There is the encounter of a given interaction as well as the intimacy and empathy built upon and maintained over time. The relationship benefits from mutual vulnerability and balanced risk. Because the relationship by definition is considered to be about the connection itself, even if the relationship appears to be benefiting one or the other party more at any given point of measurement, there is an assumption that the benefit will balance out over time.
Familial relationships are both intimate and strategic by nature because they include both an intimate and strategic origination by design. Familial relationships benefit from attention to the imbalance within the relationship and interventions seeking to enhance the aspect that is missing.