Washing machines help us clean dirty clothes. Some of the clothes come out perfectly clean. Others may still have the remnants of a stain that is now barely visible. And then there are some clothes where the machine, no matter how you well it cleans, cannot remove the stain. The stain remains visible to where you will decide to discard that piece of clothing.
Washing machines are also a great metaphor for relationships. All of us are imperfect. We have dirt and stains that need to be cleaned up. As with washing clothes, our relationships need repeated washings to keep them looking good to where they can perform as we need them to. In my personal business coaching practice in The Woodlands business and personal relationships are very often dominate over the topics of sales, operations and profitability.
Here’s the question: How effective is your personal washing machine at two things? Are you able to keep yourself clean and presentable in your relationships? Are the people you bring into your life after you put them in your washing machine cleaner and more presentable?
What is the goal of putting yourself and others through the washing machine process? The goal is to clean away what is on the outside to be able to see what is truly on the inside. What is on the inside is where the significant relationship connections take place.
What are you looking for on the inside? You are looking to see, after you and others go through the washing process, if you have similar values. Differences of opinion are to be expected. But after going through the washing process if there are differences in values then most likely it is time to not invest further in the relationship.
How do you determine values in the washing process? You start by adding detergent. You must have detergent to get the washing process started. In relationships, the detergent we use are our words. Our words will create reactions. Depending on the response to our words, we may want to add some bleach to eradicate the stain they left. We do this by changing our words and more importantly our actions to back up the words about our intent to change. Changed behavior is like bleach. It gives us the opportunity to start with a clean slate.
What if your words are good and reflect values similar to the person you are with but there are still some wrinkles in your relationship that need to be smoothed out? That’s when you add some softener, like fabric softener for clothes, with your words and actions.
Put all these together and integrate them into the wash cycle. Next is the rinse. Rinse out the excess of detergent, bleach and softener if there is any. Then comes the spin cycle. The spin cycle in clothes leaves all of them with a similar amount of moisture. In relationships this is where we are playing from a level field. No one is better than anyone else. At this point the wash cycle ends.
The next step is the dryer. The dryer brings warmth and makes the clothes look better. The dryer in our relationships is when we are ready not only to warm things up, but to make our relationships, like clothes, more functional and useful.
In your relationships, have a good washing machine and dryer. You will have a clearer and cleaner picture of yourself and the people who will be a good fit in your life.