Relationship Goals: Meaningful Relationships

Building relationships is a necessary skill set to create and sustain partnerships between cross-sector leaders and organizations for the improvement of the communities they serve. Collaboration versus competition has proven to be more effective when systemic change is the goal. Two relationship styles used by most leaders are “transactional” and “meaningful”. “Transactional Relationships” are established for short-term gain and all parties are in it for themselves. This relationship style is functional and is based on the exchange of money, goods, or services.  

“Meaningful Relationships,” however, are considered more powerful than “Transactional Relationships.”  They are typically long-term with a high regard for the voices and wisdom of the people or communities involved. “Meaningful Relationships” establish trust and understand the needs and desires of others. Communities are empowered to own the change they want to see. All parties are respected and all share in the decision-making process. “Meaningful Relationships” gives value to everyone involved. 

Here are nine differences between establishing a meaningful or transactional relationship:  

1. Friendly vs. Professional  

2. Mutual Interest vs. Self-Interest  

3. What You Give vs. What You Get  

4. Keep Informed vs. Stay in Touch  

5. Understand the Person in the Process vs. Understand the Process  

6. Evaluate the Relationship vs. Judge the Results  

7. Resolve Conflict vs. Win Conflict  

8. Acceptance vs. Agreement  

9. Evaluate the Impact on Others vs. Evaluate the Data 

Our work to transform marginalized communities’ hinges on our ability to create “Meaningful Relationships.” Over the last 20 years, Alliance has worked to strengthen more than 27,000 individual leaders and organizations to transform marginalized communities. We have led or supported 26 collaborative or collective impact projects. We believe that by working collaboratively, while building meaningful relationships, we can enact change.  

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