All I Want for Christmas Is You: Understanding the Nature of Good Relationships

Mariah Carey

Helen was a highly successful career woman. Her star shined bright in her corporation. Yet, in spite of these corporate accomplishments, Helen had no meaningful relationships. Her husband was distanced due to Helen’s businesslike approaches to her. Helen’s three children resent her because she was emotional absent in their lives. On the dark days when Helen was alone and uninterrupted, she longed for more meaningful relationships.

During a Christmas banquet, Pastor Nathan Wilson was the keynote speaker and led a lively topic on All I Want for Christmas Is You. In his speech, Pastor Wilson harked on the true meaning of Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christmas instead of the commercialization of the holidays.

Of course, this title is a famous song sung by pop diva Mariah Carey. Some thought provoking lyrics are:

“I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true oh
All I want for Christmas is you”

As another Christmas season has come and gone, many people assess whether the holidays were successful based on whether they got what they wanted. According to Worldatlas.com, Americans planned on spending around $830 on average in 2015 for various Christmas-related purposes (15% increase from 2014).

One in five Americans intended to spend between $500 and $999. With the slick advertisements, businesses convince the general public that their relationships will be enhanced by buying certain products/services for their loved ones.

Thus, there is a mad dash to acquire things in the hopes of making others happy.  In fact, there is an understanding that the gifts are what the receiver really wants.  Some people would argue that that’s the nature of children. However, when these actions are not of children but adults, society has created a society with empty relationships.

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, argues that people give to the degree that they will receive something of equal measure.  He observes, “Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of other’s needs.”

Good relationships take quality time and effort. Building any meaningful relationships means the relationship needs to be based on substance and not superfluous elements.  There is no universal definition for a good relationship. Yet, there are some common attributes of good relationships.

A good relationship is defined as the way that two or more people deal with each other based on the foundation of mutual trust, respect, and personal concern. When a person truly cares about an individual, the quality of life is enhanced.

However, good relationships take effort on everyone’s parts. Some people are caught in the past with experiencing negative relationships. Given that scenario, past relationships hold these people captive. Biblically speaking, this wisdom (I Peter 4:8) comes through: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 

Good relationships are not one-sided.  In fact, good working relationships are authentic in nature. For example, a boss demonstrates his concern about his employees when they are having personal issues outside of work. This boss understands that employees want to be treated individually.

By taking these actions, the boss is building good relationships with his workers. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, author of Contemporary Management, note, “Relationship-oriented leaders are primarily concerned with developing good relationships with their subordinates and being liked by them.”   Thus, relationships in general, are not static, but can change over time due to several variables including time and distance.  The following questions help jump start good relationships:

  • Are you frustrated enough to change your past behavior so that you can move in a positive direction?
  • Do you set unrealistic expectations of other people in your relationships?
  • Have you invested enough energy in your relationships to make them meaningful?
  • Are you still trying to change others to meet your needs instead of allowing people to be themselves?
  • Have you forgiven others in order to let go of the negative elements of past relationships?
  • Are you willing to get help from professionals such counselors who can help you?

Good relationships go beyond the receiving of things. Without good relationships, happiness will be far away. After the Christmas holidays are over, some people will be left feeling bitter because they didn’t get what they wanted. Yet, one of the best gifts that one can have is a meaningful, authentic relationship that lasts a long time.  However, the demands of any good relationship can make a person vulnerable.

Caroline Zwickerson, author of 9 Qualities of People Who Are Great At Relationships, discussed the cost of working relationships:  “When we are vulnerable, we allow another person to see us and peek into our soul. This fosters a sense of trust that cannot be reached with a thousand words.” Don’t wait any longer for building good relationships. Start today to build a great life, not a wasted one.

(c) 2016 by Dr. Daryl D. Green

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12 thoughts on “All I Want for Christmas Is You: Understanding the Nature of Good Relationships

  1. This blog is very thought provoking and should make anyone reflect on this past Christmas season and see where they stand based on Dr. Green’s thoughts on this blog. As for me, I am more interested in the reason for season. The celebration of Jesus birth. Gifts are nice and in most ways expected but the true gift isn’t what you can give to others or what they may give to you. Its what the gift was from Jesus. Now, some of you may be thinking this is not politically correct (PC). Well, I never have been PC and will not start at this point. Notice above, I said Christmas and not holidays.

    To bring my comments to the leadership/management side of this blog. It is vital for top managers to have a good natured compassionate relationship with his employees. It shows respect for the individual. As a person who has supervised hundreds of individuals in the past and loves giving gifts, this type of giving is more welcome to me than gifts at anytime. Relationships with your spouse, boss, family are all important and will help you grow as a person, but keep the season for what it really is.

  2. “Give more than you receive”. That was last piece of advice that our pastor gave to my wife and I the day we were married. It is by far the greatest bit of wisdom I think anyone has ever passed onto me. My wife and I strive every day to practice this in our marriage, careers, and general daily interactions with others. I don’t believe as a society we apply this seemingly simple theory enough in our daily lives. I think this simple phrase can carry many examples, from the employee / employer relationship side I agree that is takes building trust and a mutual respect for each other. Not just to simply co-exist together in the workplace, but to build relationships and professional careers with one another. And this is not something that is easily attained, it takes daily effort from both sides to create this type of relationship that is discussed in the blog. One that allows us to be “vulnerable” in our relationships. If our goal is to strive to have relationships like this, there is no doubt that we will be successful in our personal and professional lives for years to come.

  3. Paul,

    I completely agree with your statements. The idea of upper management showing respect and compassion for their employees is vital to the relationship. The only thing I might add to that is the relationship is a two-way street. I feel like sometimes employees don’t understand how difficult the job of an upper level manager can be. Not only are you responsible for yourself and your actions, but also you are responsible for the actions of your employees. At my previous place of employment, I supervised a railroad and bridge structure repair gang. We were fortunate enough to have the same 5 or 6 guys working together for a few years. Each of us understood the demands of the work as well as the pressures. Having employees that understood what needed to be accomplished and what was expected, who were respectful to not only me but each other, and were happy to help each other out, made my job as a supervisor that much easier. That alone was the greatest display of respect that could have been shown, and it made my job that much easier. And it builds relationships, even though I no longer work there, I still talk to those few guys at least every few weeks as a friend.

  4. I very much enjoyed this motivational read on relationships in relation to the Christmas holiday. The retail industry makes “billions of dollars each year from consumer holidays” (Allen, 2014). Marketers are especially good at manipulating consumers into buying products for such occasions to make others happy. Therein lies the problem, when people look for materialistic things to make them happy. Unfortunately, I am guilty of wanting materialistic gifts and not honing personal relationships. This in turn leaves empty space that no amount of superficial material can fix. Blame it on technology or blame it on society but at some point I think we are all guilty, consciously or subconsciously. As managers in industries ran by individuals, one needs to set himself aside to fit the needs of his/her employees and build relationships to better the work environment. However, to do so change must first come from within. Employees have a great sense of knowing when managers are sincere or just going through the motions. With this being said, I’m starting this year with good relationships to better myself and my place of employment.

    Allen, K. (2014). The long and short of America’s consumer holidays. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from https://nrf.com/news/the-long-and-short-of-americas-consumer-holidays

    • Commercialization has completely taken over Christmas. It is very unfortunate. The more billions the retail industry makes the more it appears they want. I am not saying needs but wants. I will agree manipulation of the consumer is key to ensure product purchasing. Every one wants gifts and that’s just how it is. However, with the gifts we need to realize what it is doing to our relationships both negative and positive. This is similar to meeting the needs of employees. They have needs as well and maybe its not a Christmas gift, but respect and maybe a little “thank you” every now and then for the work accomplished. I found a simple good job from a supervisor out weighs the wrapped gift that I might or might not like or enjoy. It is time to begin new and lasting relationships with family and your employers.

    • Kayley, you make some very good points about material things and its effects on human nature. But first I want to provide some insight about my perception of the mundane and superficial items in my life. I genuinely know real happiness comes from meaningful relationships, but you should have seen the smile on my face when I got the new TaylorMade Driver (golf club) for Christmas. And the corporations of the world know material things can make people happy and why shouldn’t they take advantage of that? When dealing with people and the relationships they have with other people, such as employees, relationships must be more personal and meaningful. It is important you pointed out the relationship between managers and employees must be meaningful. The relationship must encourage the possibility of growth and development in order for the company to grow and develop. As you stated, employees have a great sense of awareness when managers are sincere. Therefore successful managers must be able to focus a majority of their attention on how to serve their employees with sincerity. This aspect will truly determine how successful the manager and the company can be.

  5. I think the story of Helen could be used as a metaphor for managers and their approach to building relationships with their employees. No matter how hard Helen worked and not matter how successful she became, she was still missing something special with her other relationships. This can also hold true with a manager and their relationship with the employees. Even if the manager makes a deadline and completes an assignment on time, there could still be resentment from their team. This could be especially true if the manager doesn’t treat the employees with the level of respect they deserve. This resentment could build up over time and could result in an ineffective outcome down the road. Self-awareness is the most important skill for a manager. Helen can be temporarily successful at her job, but if she doesn’t have enough self-awareness to realize her approach to accomplishing her goals is detrimental to her long-term success, she will be failing her business and herself.

    • I could not agree with this comment more! Helen’s lack of self-awareness will ultimately cause “detrimental” effects to her family and herself if the situation does not change. Helen recognizes that she is not happy and that something is missing because the blog says she longs for “more meaningful relationships”. However, like most people, admitting one needs to change is the hardest. She may think her husband is being mean or her kids are just spoiled, but in reality one should go directly to the source, themselves. Like Managers, many times they too blame others, completely ignore the problem, or are oblivious to the entire situation. Good managers know that relationships in the workplace are just as important as assignments and deadlines. Helen should take responsibility for her failed relationships so she can move forward to have a more balanced work and home life.

  6. It is a great blog explaining meaning of good relationships. It mentions that past negative experiences can leave bad impression on you and can modulate your interactions with other people. It’s very important to understand that life is full of surprises and every person is different from another person. One bad experience might leave you disheartened but we should always have faith in ourselves and others.

    • Taran,
      I agree with you about one bad experience might leave you disheartened. Many times people focus on what is negative in relationship, or hold on to negative experiences they had in a bad relationship. As a social worker most people hold on to that negative experience in relationship and they let it take over all their future relationships by making others pay for the mistakes of those few bad experiences. You also stated we should have faith in ourselves that can be very difficult when people have hurt you so badly. This takes lots of time to heal and process what makes a positive relationship. What can you take from that negative experience and turn it to a positive, so that you do not miss the surprises.

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