The Vulnerability of Relational Bids

John Gottman teaches about “bids” (which are basically attempts at relational connection) in his book “The Relationship Cure.”  “A bid can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch – any single expression that says ‘I want to feel connected to you,'” Gottman writes.

A response to a bid is just that – “a positive or negative answer to somebody’s request for emotional connection.” According to Gottman, there are three types of response to bids: turning toward responses, turning away responses, and turning against responses.

I was thinking about all the ways we bid with each other for connection.  If an olive branch says, “Let’s try again,” a bid simply says, “I’m trying.”

Think of the thrill that you feel when you share something with enthusiasm with someone you love, and they respond in kind. It makes me think of Anne Lamott’s wise words… something to the effect that the most powerful sermon we can preach is, “Me too.”  There’s nothing like the connection around an exchange like “I love banana pudding,” met with “You too?  I thought it was just me.”  And it can get even more profound than that when we move from banana pudding to kinship around the truly vulnerable admissions we make.

Yet there’s a commensurate ache when we venture forth with a treasure, perhaps saying “This book will change your life,” and are met with “It doesn’t do anything for me.”  Ouch.  It’s not just me you’re rejecting… but my bid, my attempt to share part of me with you.

Sure, we can talk about how we see them differently, and you don’t have to agree with me, but do know that if I share something I read — or, especially, wrote — with you (other than the Yellow Pages or an instruction manual for my camera), it’s likely because it shaped me, it thrills me, it sets something in me on fire, and I want you to feel that same glow and recognize it in me.

Ah recommendations… they are vulnerable bids.  Let’s treat each other’s bids with tenderness.


~ by Cary on July 2, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Vulnerability of Relational Bids”

  1. 78% of Americans generally trust product/service recommendations from people they know, vs. 18% who generally trust advertising. If I’m the Holy Spirit, I can work with that. (Well, if I’m the Holy Spirit, I can work with anything, but you get my point: There’s a lot of good waiting to happen here.)

    • Yes, and I’d love to have the Holy Spirit marketing my own writing projects, prompting person after person to recommend them to others (and having every last interaction be an encouragement to recommender and “recommendee” and a chance for people to somehow know God better).

  2. Your keyboard to God’s ear.

  3. Or God’s “mouth” to my ear to my keyboard.

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