Michael Bungay Stanier (MBS) talks a lot about Best Possible Relationships (BPRs) which is a lot of acronyms to open with so stick with me here people because this is important.
Possible is the keyword.
Best Relationship is daunting. But Best Possible Relationship is daring. In the good ways.
You know that person at work you get along with, and it’s functional and all, but you really don’t (ever) need to hang out on weekends?
This functional-but-not-too-friendly balance is your best possible relationship with that person.
MBS says on BPRs (we’re going to broaden it out now, from his forthcoming book – How To Work With (Almost) Anyone, with my emphasis added),
When you commit to a BPR you commit to intentionally designing and managing the way you work with people rather than just accepting what happens. With a BPR, you create relationships that are safe, vital, and repairable. That’s the foundation for happier, more successful working partnerships.
Safe, meaning psychologically safe to discuss anything appropriate to discuss.
Vital, meaning it’s an important relationship, like a living thing, and neither side is looking to just kill it off.
Repairable, meaning even when something goes wrong, it’s “not quite dead yet” and can be fixed. Mutually.
What about if it’s not safe, vital, or repairable? A Worst Possible Relationshit?
Tasha Eurich and MBS got into this on a recent presentation. They talked about how sometimes you do have to kill it off. The safety maybe isn’t there, which kills the vitality and ability to even attempt reparations.
Terminating a relationship is a choice. One we’re able to make. “Every choice has prizes and punishments.” A classic MBS quote.
So long as you’re aiming for net-positive growth, meaning the prizes on average outweigh the punishments, is a best possible way, you’ll move the right relationships forward. Intentionally.
Not just blind acceptance of whatever happens.
Footnote: If you didn’t see it on my Twitter, I’ll be contributing/collaborating to Epsilon Theory going forward. THIS post on BPRs and choices is a core concept behind how tribal identities are pulling people apart, and it’s a choice we can accept or reject. I’ll likely be expanding this note into an essay. Stay tuned.
*I am so trademarking relationshit. I laughed every time I re-read this while editing.
Check out MBS reading this section of his book on the “Safe, Vital, and Repairable” episode of his “2 Pages with MBS” podcast here