Transactional vs. transformative

Several months ago I saw an infographic comparing what qualities a narrow-minded person has compared to someone more open-minded. The basic idea is that narrow-minded people can’t escape from negative emotions associated with their relationships. Friends are ignoring you, or betraying you. Your significant other doesn’t compliment you enough. Other, less qualified people are getting promoted while you work long hours. The last point on the chart boiled down how both groups interact with the world. A close-minded person views interactions as transactional, while an open-minded person views them as transformative.

This is deeply important, and the kind of question we need to periodically ask ourselves. Do we interact with people because we enjoy their company, or do we want something from them? Money, power, prestige, sex. Many of us have had friends who used our goodwill for selfish purposes. You probably won’t admit to it, but likely  you have done the same at some point. This worldview extends beyond people, to animals and the environment. Is the environment something of inherent worth by itself, or do we value it only for the material goods it can provide?

Taking experience as part of a transformation means that success and failure are both important parts of personal growth. Instead of becoming more bitter when our desires are denied, the setbacks make us wiser. To me, it seems to explain why some people at 12 have more grace and common sense than others who are 50. If you’re viewing relationships as a zero-sum game, time won’t be much of a help.

If you view relationships as something more, where both people can grow and benefit together, many other things fall into place. We need not live in a well of cynicism.

Author: AJM

Writer, sociologist, Unitarian Universalist.

4 thoughts on “Transactional vs. transformative”

  1. If the UUA and other narrow-minded UUs viewed relationships as something more, where two or more people can grow and benefit together, many other more postive things might fall into place. Narrow-minded UUs, including stunningly cynical UU clergy and UUA leaders, need not live in the remarkably deep well of highly questionable cynicism that they are currently living in. . .

    Just Google “blasphemous libel” and UUA to engage in a free and responsible search fro the Truth and meaning of some, but by no means all. . . of the hubristic UU “cynicism” that I am talking about here.


    1. Two important things:

      1. I have no interest in UU organization and politics.

      2. Your blog is juvenile, cheap, and unnecessarily hostile. It cheapens every single criticism you provide, and may explain why the people that you despise refuse to read your complaints and interact with you.


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