A friend and I were talking about how people tended to centre their relationships on particular aspects of life and this then led us to discuss what “currencies” people used.
So, what on earth am I talking about? Basically every interaction between people is a trade. As kids we swap toys or cards or anything we happen to have. Or else we trade information about how to do tricks on bikes or skates or scooters.
Later on we share common likes or dislikes and swap stories about how this brings us together and makes us a team or grouping. But all the while we are interacting we are swapping or trading. And just as in the outside world in general we need to have a currency or medium of exchange for the trades to carry on.
The currency used changes with all relationships, it might be shared likes or dislikes, it might be similar experiences or any one of a number of things, but we build our relationships on this busy interaction all the time.
When love or lust raises its head then it becomes even more charged and emotionally expensive, but the trading continues as we build closer bonds or discover that it just isn’t going to work. In fact one of the most common reasons for things not working out is that the trading becomes too one sided. Or the value of the currency changes markedly.
In parental / offspring terms the currency also changes over time. Initially the major currency is simply presence. Whichever parent is there most of the time for the child determines who becomes most important. In other words they determine their value and become the bank.
But as the child grows and the roles of the parents change then other factors come into play. And here is where a child discovers that actually there can be any number of “Currencies” with which to transact or trade with their parents and with all the important people in their lives.
And in any relationship at all, whether friends, siblings or partners a complex set of currencies are used all the time. We spend an incredible amount of our time trading without even knowing it. Amazingly, both sides decide between them what currency is most valuable to them with a particular person, and they tend to trade in that most often.
Financial – for some people money really is the thing that makes the world go round.
A need to be useful/important – A third group consists of those who want to give out support to others.
Status – this applies particularly to competitive people, it is usually determined by their position visa vis another person.
Once you are aware of this trading situation then you can quickly identify what currency (ies) are required and so respond accordingly. The main thing is to be aware that a trade or series of trades are taking place and that in order for everybody to feel happy about the outcome that you are using the right mixture of currencies.
If person A is motivated by 1 (Finance), but you think that it is 4 (Status) then you are liable to end up with an uncomfortable trade and so both parties will feel unhappy.
Very often though you will have mutually satisfying trades: such as when a 2 (Emotional Support) deals with a 3 (Need to be useful).
You can very quickly identify which are a person’s most commonly used currencies and then adapt your dealing with them. Just remember that people’s needs and currencies can change and so stay alert to this.