The Fog of Friendship, Family & Companionship (EQ 1)

Listening, Understanding & Building Trust


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A few years ago, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor gave an interesting response to an interviewer on Love + Radio | that blew me away. It did because in seeking friendships and building relationships, most people commit the cardinal error of projecting their assumptions, idiosyncrasies, stereotypes and fears onto others rather than doing the tedious but rewarding work of stopping/pausing, and seeking first to respect, —indeed understand the individuality of the person or group in question.

Dr. Taylor replied: “You cared. But I didn't. I think that's one of the perceptive errors that we make. You project your fears onto me. How many times have you asked me about fear? I didn't have any fear. But if you were in that position [*you*] would anticipate that [*you*] would have all this fear. So as a result, [*you*] treat me with a different kind of perspective because [*you*] have fear. And I don't want your fear. I don't want your sympathy. I want your compassion. And that's very different...I think it's very important that people don't freak out...It's not about [*you*]...

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is the only brain scientist known to have experienced, survived, and recovered from a brain stroke, and coherently explain it both scientifically, or as below.

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Did you see Clint Eastwood's human relations masterpiece, Gran Tarino?

We may be colleagues, relatives, etc. But some people just don't require plastic friendship, acquaintance, love, or sympathy even though admittedly it is nice to be affirmed. And that deep human craving to be recognized, appreciated and validated is universally recognized.

Nevertheless, wisdom in human relations I believe, begins with the understanding and demonstration that people *are* indeed different and approach issues/challenges based on unique personal prototypical makeup (which some actively develop). Sometimes called “the intelligences”, these comprise 4 areas of sense and soul* namely:

SQ » Spiritual Intelligence

IQ » Intellectual/Mental Abilities

EQ » Emotional Intelligence*

PQ » Physical Intelligence

Now let's stop on EQ and soul for a second because I personally like's definition of soul (in it's entirety). But as it relates to me personally, No. 8 through 10 resonates. Just because you like your hotdogs with ketchup for example doesn't mean everybody else likes theirs the same à la BURGER KING®. And just because one's complete web presence, footprint, your blogs, Social Media input and entire life is consistently self-centered, vain or lacks purpose doesn't mean the rest of the world has to conform. And that is the kind of relationship (or better, Emotional) intelligence Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was pumping into her interviewer's ears.

I was talking to a blog follower on the phone. She'd called me with questions railing about the issue of trust; how difficult it is to find good friends “in this city”, and how she only has one (good) friend. Here is what I shocked her with:

I don't trust my own beloved mother because she purposely lies (or commits acts of omission) to protect my big brothers from my stern rebukes. She's a mother. What do you expect? She want to protect us all from each other. So trust is an issue she gains and then loses and and then regains on a continuing basis. No big deal. Love still abounds in the family. As well it should.

What is all this clamor, this inadvertent ingratitude for life. Why're people so busy trying to accumulate not only things but achieve numbers and invariably, bragging rights, and so afraid of unplugging from the grid of nonsense; so afraid of missing out? Do you want 5 million bad friends?

Why aren't people just happy with the beautiful numero uno? All this Facebook and obsessive vain Social Media fascination with "Like" buttons...Online friends calling each other at work talking about: “Don't forget to 'like' what I posted so my numbers can go up”. And then, what? So your self-esteem can also skyrocket? You have people posting things and then turning around to "Like" their own stuff. I get marketing. But building genuine friendship(s) and trust, is a completely different animal.

“Try gratitude for once. Then try it in increments everyday. And you'll be surprised how fulfilled and happier you'll be than the rest of the thrill-seeking bunch. Keep developing yourself and good values (such as fairness, honesty, and unconditional kindness) and you'll naturally attract the admiration of positive people into your life, I told her.

Pure friendship is not Accounting or The Oscars. It's a much deeper human affair with dangerous consequences whenever mishandled, built on false pretenses and/or on ignorant assumptions or foundations. And in my case, it must be proven. And I do insist on that. Thankfully, I'm not the only one I know who insists on the same. David Schwimmer had it right: I don't tolerate any kind of dishonesty. I bring a lot to the table with my relationships, so I really expect same.

I am the most misunderstood person I've ever met as it is. So, if you're going to insist on rushing our friendship like a teenager and his premature ejaculation, at least understand now that without patient understanding of my values, you (or both of us) will be hurt.

I practice tough love without apology. From family to friends and professional acquaintances, few who know me personally and are genuine, would disagree. And yes, I am hard on myself as well.

In, and through both home and others' personal life disappointments, I grew up watching people come and go. Fickle people making fickle promises they ended up abandoning. Sometimes suddenly and without conscience, consideration or shame. In other cases, people slowly drifted apart from others they'd lead on after painting glossy, flamboyant portraits of the direction of their friendships, only to leave others high and dry. So, I observe, and test and never cease testing (the integrity of people) gently and quietly whenever and wherever I can. If leadership is a choice, not a title, social and moral critique constitute my modi vivendi as well.

True friendship improves quality of life far beyond the superficial; the gift exchange. It is a soulful gift that beautifies life. So the question is: Do you believe in, or bring a growth mindset. Because while a fixed mindset may be ideal for you, some simply aren't interested, for reasons they needn't repeatedly justify or explain. Values must match.

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An important line of demarcation for me is that people seeking to be really really close to me must be compassionate, fundamentally accountable, and headed somewhere positive with their own life and/or involved in positive causes. I do not believe, in part because I've witnessed time and again, that you can teach people who don't share, understand, or are not prepared to respect those basic values/boundaries, the importance of, and consequences of (not) Listening and Being Mindful. Clarity of friendship means compassionate attention to the friend, the companion, the family member(s) in a sustained, verifiable and consistent way, even as everything else or the world around changes.

This kind of demonstrated love cannot be misrepresented. Not even by human ingratitude, willful selective forgetfulness or selfishness (you know, by the kind you do something for and they turn against you downstream because selfishness consumes them like a cold winter blitz), wickedness and/or betrayal. “Wisdom”, Niccolo Machiavelli rightly points out, “consists in being able to distinguish among dangers and make a choice of the least harmful.” Or as Mary J. Blige sings: “Better know your friends or you won't get by”. So, dictionaries, academic and philosophical definitions notwithstanding, I tend to perceive, welcome or use the terms thusly:

Family » immediate/blood ties or kin; and/or extended member in touch; not aloof and therefore mutually informed on issues, and how to support each other.

Friends » tight friendship (dictionary definition, meaning, including professional), or inner circle unique from the above in that we're not blood-related. Otherwise, in the case of the latter, just as close as Family.

Acquaintances » someone/people to whom I owe nothing (and vice versa, save for the moral duty I owe to humanity, which is to twofold: To be kind and respectful unconditionally and humane at all times. And as regards trust: We know either of the above two (Friends or Family ) is capable of hurting or betraying your trust, and any Jew, Christian, or informed person would tell you that aspect of human nature can be traced as far back as biblical times before Israel as a nation was even created. Moreover:

Companionship » Like illusions, compassion (especially when/were one is on the receiving end) is sweet. Companionship is the breeze, the cream and the icing on the sweetness families and true friendship (not acquaintances) bring. Therefore, in my view, families and friends, *are* companions when as said before, they're active and connected. Not aloof and/or unaccountable towards the ones they claim to care about or are related to.

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I let my bestfriend go a few years ago eventhough I still help him with remittances when he's financially stuck, because he has a family now. My former bestfriend, with whom I grew up. By 2002, he'd started acting like an "acquaintance", disappearing for long periods of time during which there were personal, traumatic tragedies. He was aloof. Nowhere to be found. And then he'd resurface and act as if we still "go way back" and everything's honky dory. Actor Will Smith would say: “If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present during my success.”

When was the last time you had a really deep, wide-ranging conversation and it felt even better than sex? soul friendship, demonstrated. When was the last time a friend, family, stranger, or companion intuitively understood, anticipated, and selflessly, proactively, and tangibly responded to your basic need without you ever asking?

Great feeling, wasn't it?

That is what happens when people who *get* “it's not about you” à la Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor in their human relations, act and lead the only way they know how: the right friendship way.

Have you acted in kind lately? Still appreciate that experience? When in doubt as regards friendship and human relations, do the right thing. If you don't know what the right thing is, then you may have a SQ, IQ, EQ, and PQ problem.

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