Pursuit of Money Can Kill Relationships

– First Published on Nasdaq –

As I continue my journey through gaining a deeper understanding of what living a quality life actually means, I’m reminded that my original life plan was to create wealth, be successful and provide for my family.

I previously would have said that all the financial decisions I make point me toward achieving that plan. During this time of pandemic lock down, however, I – like many others – have taken time out to consider how well I’ve achieved these goals. Or not. And whether a directional change is needed in terms of my quality life goals.

Succeed, with relationships intact

I recently held a virtual round table with friends. We’re all at the same stage in life, all having the same rethinking life moments, and I put these questions to them: What is the biggest stumbling block? The most difficult to resolve as you build your wealth?

I was surprised to hear that each responded in a similar vein: The biggest challenge they face is damage to relationships.

While our intention in terms of wealth creation is laudable; that is, building wealth for the family, investing in building our businesses and ultimately having meaningful goals that build a quality life, the reality for each of us was some cost to our relationships in some area of life – family, business or personal.

It’s probably worth stating that we as a friendship group are quite alike behaviorally. We are initiators, strategists and world pioneers in our chosen fields. But, that said, we each acknowledge that we didn’t always get relationships right.

Two of us are in the business of understanding behavioral differences, but it was a journey to get there and there was some bruising along the way. For the others, we decided to dig deeper into where the relationship “fails” were and why.

On a personal level, each shared that discussions around finances caused stress. Success doesn’t mean these difficult discussions go away. So why?

Money always at play

Given the types of personalities we are – and having little or no depth of insight into our partners’ financial personality – we were making all the decisions. Yes, we’d have “token” conversations, but in reality we’d already made up our minds and plowed ahead toward achieving the life goals we had set (probably back in college days).

Obviously, as a friendship group we agreed to invest in getting behavioral advice and learning about our own behavior and how to manage inevitable differences as couples. A key learning from this advice was the principle that behavioral styles drive money (thereby influencing every personal, financial and business decision) and the flow of money reflects behavioral styles. Conversations will be had at home as we pluck up the courage to delve into this prickly and emotionally charged subject.

In this group, some of us were starting to open our eyes as we looked into the broader family dynamics we had each come from – whether it was a controlling grandparent or a riches-to-rags situation. Or a divorce because a parent was a spender. There is even the opposite phenomenon where friction is caused because both parents are hoarders, denying the family opportunities. In the end, we could all see how money was always at play, positively and negatively driving every relationship dynamic.

Invest in relationships

But then we moved onto our businesses. Again, we realized that our focus was on success, achieving results and in many cases we’d each delegated “relationships” to others in our businesses.

I have a very astute personal assistant and was reminded of a remark she made some time ago after I’d needed to admonish one of my key executives. She said, “do I need to mop up any blood after you?”

As I shared this thought with the group, we each agreed that we needed to review, invest in and better manage our relationships. Our future success or failure could depend on how we handled them. Even in business settings it became apparent that in different ways the energy of money was a motivational player and therefore impacting workplace relationships. Even if people come to work for other reasons than making money, money still plays its hand.

Managing relationships, whether personal or business, must begin with understanding our own personality and character. Strong relationships, I firmly believe, come from: A deep understanding and self-awareness of our own character, EQ (emotional intelligence), decision-making style and pressure-point hot spots. In other words, what are our own flash points and what or who pushes them?

Finding common touchpoints

Thinking of our work colleagues, we all agreed that we chase results. Further, we have no time for long-winded conversations. Even more frustrating are those colleagues around us who seem to take forever to make a decision.

This brought out how important understanding each person’s unique communication needs are to building relationships. Yes, if the communication needs are not being met – then somehow money will be right there driving a wedge in the relationship even if it was not the original cause. The point is, money is always there even if it is not the initiator of the problem.

With insightful behavioral knowledge it’s clear the long-winded are story tellers. They can paint a full and often complete picture of the issues. They deserve to be listened to, but maybe the learning point for us is to let them know that bullet points work better, followed by a more comprehensive written communication to support their points.

What about the slow decision maker? These folks are often gatekeepers to the safety of the business. They need time to think and absorb all information. They don’t want to make the wrong decision. In short, these people need to be listened to by fast-paced people (such as those of us in the friend group).

Again, if we understand our own innate behaviors – and the innate behaviors and decision-making styles of others – we can adjust and coach, for a win-win-win in terms of both parties’ communication and decision-making, as well as the interaction and outcomes.

The role of relationships

So, how important are relationships in your life? As you invest – in yourself and otherwise – to achieve the quality life goals you want, are you protecting the relationships that are part of the quality life you are building?

Have you considered the influence of your life direction and the core of who you are as a person as being important? And does that direction you’ve chosen align with the relationships you have, and need, to achieve the life goals you aspire to?

These are important conversations to have as we unpack what a quality life looks like. Join me, as the conversations are ongoing….

Hugh Massie

Hugh Massie

Hugh Massie - Chairman and CEO of DNA Behavior International

As an Identity Trailblazer and Behavioral Finance Insights Pioneer, Hugh Massie empowers advisers, business leaders, families and individuals to unlock their identity for accelerating dramatic change and discover how unknown behaviors which intensify through un-managed differences, money attitudes, pressure and emotions - derail performance.

Hugh helps advisers, leaders, families, and individuals adopt an “understanding people before numbers” approach to making Behaviorally SMART decisions based on their identity, thus customizing experiences for accelerating human performance.

Hugh’s real-world practical applications of behavioral insights and the mastery of the energy of money, blended with strong financial skills, gives him the unique capability to design a wide variety of universally applicable human performance apps. The tech Hugh has developed with his team benefits 1.5 million+ people annually in 125 countries & 11 languages.)