A case for doing relational work

Choose to care

We found out on Sunday that one of our favorite customers died.

Larry had been sick for a while and moved out of state to be near family a while back, so we knew that this was a likely eventuality, but it was still such sad news. He was a martial arts master – and could have likely ended any of us with his pinky finger – but he was best known for his mastery of kindness and gratitude. Rarely did an interaction with Larry end without him saying “thank you, my friend,” and leaving you feeling just a little bit better.

We were able to exchange messages of appreciation with Larry a few months ago and it’s so wonderful to think that we each made a difference in the life of the other.

Larry’s passing is a reminder of how personal work can – and should – be. The fact that we provided a service for which Larry was willing to pay provided the context for our interactions, but we had a choice between transactional work and relational work.

To choose relational work is to esteem being a caring human above any given transaction. To choose relational work is to care about the people your organization serves in a way that is messy and leaves you feeling a like you’ve lost something valuable when they are gone. Transactional work is neat, clean, and easy, but it fails to capture the wonder of engaging with someone like Larry.

Caring about the people you serve will necessarily cost you something. So will not caring about the people you serve. Choose to care.