The Seven Levels of Relationship

Over time many people come into and out of our lives.

I think it is so important that we use wisdom and allow people we meet to move slowly through the following levels of relationship, solidifying the relationship as we go:

  1. The Crowd: Before we meet someone they are merely a part of the crowd.
  2. Acquaintances: Once we meet them they become an acquaintance.
  3. Associates: If we begin seeing them regularly at work, or as part of a sports team or community group, for example, we associate with them regularly.
  4. Energising Family or Friends: It is important that we move people into this group only if we are always more energised having been with them. If they are draining to us we should leave them in an earlier group.
  5. Trusted Personal or Professional Relationships: If they prove over time that they can be trusted with confidentiality, and that they have some wisdom to share in a particular field, they may become a trusted coach or mentor.
  6. Spouse: Chosen life-partner.
  7. You: Others can’t enter this level as it is how we relate to ourself. Can you be alone without being lonely or anxious?

It is crucial that we understand that the consequence of not learning how to develop quality, trusted relationships invariably does not show up immediately. It shows up later when we find ourselves in 'crisis mode'. Often by the time someone speaks up about their concerns regarding their relationship their love tank is not only empty but it has holes in the bottom; the relationship actually died long before it was seen to be over.

So where do you stand with these seven levels?

Most of us have never considered people and the relationships we have with them in this way before. So, for instance, how do people qualify to be in the energy column? Well, people actually position themselves. As you think of a person you see often ask yourself the question,

'Do they bring joy to a room when they enter it or
do they bring joy to a room when they leave it?'

If you took a moment to list the people who are already in the various levels of relationship in your life, would you discover that some may already be further into the relationship levels than they should be. It is true that you may need to progressively move some of them back up through the levels, or maybe out of relationship completely. These may be a business or sporting relationship, a friendship, or even family.

Now that you have a starting point continue to use the Seven Levels of Relationships principles to consider the following:

  • Look for people who come into your life who you feel may be people with the potential to move down the relationship levels to a deeper and more important role in your life. 
  • Take some time to consider whether you want to get to know them better as a friend who brings energy to your life, or to build a stronger relationship with them as a trusted coach or mentor.
  • Are there people in the Trusted and Energy levels who actually drain you, and need to be repositioned in the upper levels?
  • Monitor the balance of time in your life spent with those who energise you versus those who drain you. This goes for both physical time and mind space.

One of our personal coaches at BWC is a fantastic person and everyone likes him. One of the reasons is that he is so open and friendly and trusting. He lets people quickly into the ‘trusted professionals’ level of relationship, which has led him to suffer a heavy financial fall due to one of these professionals. He has since learned the definitions of investmentdevelopment and speculation and has realised the 'trusted' professional took him into an 'investment' that was actually a risk-filled speculation. He has now become more aware of keeping people out of the trusted level of relationship until he is sure that they can be trusted. Recently he had to go overseas at a time when he had some financial and legal matters to attend to. He was confident to leave Power of Attorney with his trusted professionals and all matters were dealt with in his absence. What a turn around this was for him now that he understands how to develop trusted relationships and not just take them at face value. 

Make sure, as you meet people in the crowd who become acquaintances, that you move them slowly down the levels of relationship as you get to know them better. 

Remember it is harder to move people out of your life than to let them in quickly! So take your time.