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Define the Relationship

I started reading relationship books when I was in middle school. I know it’s not your typical middle schooler reading, but I wanted to learn about how to cultivate positive relationships. Since that time, I have had many a conversation with friends about defining the relationship (DTR). Defining the relationship is a process that the people in a relationship undergo to ensure that all parties understand what the relationship is. For instance, a couple might decide if they are boyfriend/girlfriend or if they just enjoy each other’s company. Defining the relationship is crucial because it prevents miscommunication and hurt feelings due to an improper understanding of each person’s role in the relationship. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really like defining the relationship.

You might think that a DTR is only useful for interpersonal relationships. However, that is not the case. DTRs are useful in business as well. Instead of defining the relationship, businesses use group norms.

Group Norms

Smiling designer using his tablet pc while team works behindBusiness Dictionary provides a helpful definition of group norms, “unspoken and often unwritten set of informal rules that govern individual behaviors in a group.” The problem with group norms being informal and unwritten is that the members of the group are often not aware of the norms. The other problem is that some people might think something is a norm, while others do not. This can become problematic and create tension in the workplace.

Of course, the way to solve this problem is to discuss group norms –define the relationship. The members of Your Clear Next Step recently had a team meeting where we discussed group norms. During this meeting, we clarified focus work time and time for small talk. We discussed what kind of communication we prefer for time sensitive and less urgent issues. Every member of the team provided input and talked together to create a common understanding. Now that we have articulated our group norms, everyone knows what is expected of them.

Casual group of people with hands together in the center - teamwork conceptsUnfortunately, sometimes defining the relationship can be difficult. Your Clear Next Step is here to help. We can come into your business and help facilitate a meeting to create group norms. We can listen to concerns and ideas and help you integrate those into group norms for your company or team.

Once group norms have been clearly established, your team or company can work smoothly. Congratulations, you defined the relationship!



Topics: YP, Communication & Collaboration

Lydia Magalhaes

About the Author

Lydia Magalhaes

Lydia Magalhaes was an Administrative and Communications Intern at Your Clear Next Step. She helped with outreach to young professionals through her blog writing. Outside of this, she helped with final proofing and data analysis. Lydia graduated from Simpson College, with a major in Secondary Education and Mathematics Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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