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What It Really Takes to Maintain a “Relationship”…Lessons From a Crook!

As my trips to my home country of Lebanon have increased due to some personal business I am involved with, I had to start working closely with several lawyers handling various aspects of the business. 

Although most lawyers I have met in my lifetime were for the most part quite pleasant and professional to work with, one particular lawyer, Ra'ed, stood out as being one heck of a deceiving individual. After wholeheartedly trying to maintain a relationship with this individual whom I had entrusted my business with so much, I finally decided to admit my mistake, give up working with him, and painfully file a lawsuit against him for embezzlement of my funds. 

I simply had to just accept the fact that Ra'ed is nothing but a condescending lawyer, whose only purpose in life, is to cheat people off their money. 

On the way coming back to the country of my residence after my most recent visit, I couldn’t stop wondering why was it so hard for Ra'ed to strike it clean with people and just do his job in an ethical and straightforward manner. After all, this is a person who comes from a highly respectable family with historically close ties to our family. You would imagine that someone with such a strong familial history would possess the decency to carry out his profession properly and ethically. Oh was I ever wrong, and what a crook he was!

This is when I realized what it really means to have and maintain a “trustworthy relationship”, no matter whom that relationship is with.  This also made me reflect back on a simple concept called, “The Three Pillars for Building and Maintaining a Relationship”.   

Talking about relationships, we usually take it for granted that a relationship is simply a “relationship”. The word is so abused and exploited in our daily vocabulary that we easily use it anywhere and everywhere. 

But do we really know what the term "relationship" means?

For a true “relationship” to be built, and most importantly to be maintained, it all depends on three major pillars. And these three pillars hold true for whatever relationship you are talking about: whether it’s between spouses, friends, family members, relatives, professionals, and whomever you would want to build a relationship with, in addition to client/lawyer relationships.

 So what are these three pillars? 


They are: “Common Goal”, “Communication”, and “Trust”. 

The first and foremost requirement for building a relationship is realizing that there is a “common goal” between the two individuals or the two parties. A common goal can range anywhere between the aspiration of living together and starting a family, to envisioning a prosperous future that would prompt partners to start a business together, to a common cause that brings people together, and so on and so forth. So, when individuals or partners understand that they are on the same page, working towards a common purpose…boom!!!! The first requirement would be met and commonality is realized. This is the very first and easiest step to realizing. 

Going back to Ra'ed, my previous lawyer, and since this “common goal” requirement was the very first requirement to start building such a lawyer/client relationship, Ra'ed made sure from the very start to deceivingly make me believe that he’s all there for me, and for my own cause!!! And was he ever superb at doing a fine job in deceiving me! Unfortunately, I was only able to realize his deceiving tactics later on when it became obvious that all he was after was his own interest! He was all talk and nothing but talk, as they say. 

Now that a “Common Goal” has been realized, moving to the next requirement or pillar to building a relationship comes next. That’s “communication” of course. In an ideal situation, that common goal only makes the two parties engage more and more in a communication process where all ideas, suggestions, objections, fears, and so on and so forth, are shared between the parties. However, the trick here is for this communication to be more of a two-way communication process, and not just a one-way process, for it to be as effective as we would like it to be, in order for that relationship to be anchored in place. 

Only when this ongoing communication is clear, honest, transparent, straightforward, and healthy, do we move onto the last requirement, which is “Trust”.

Again, in regards to Ra'ed, he made sure to provide me with the answers I wanted to hear, which I totally fell for at the very beginning. But later on, that communication process started to break up. As time passed, Ra'ed no longer had anything to share with me, except the same promises and lies that he was inventing all along the way. This is when it became obvious that he could no longer “walk the talk”. Once “communication” started turning from being a two-way process to becoming more of a one-way process, where I was doing most of the talking by repeatedly trying to follow up on my case to no avail, this is when the relationship started going bust.  

So, now we come to the third and most important requirement of all three pillars, that of "Trust". This is the test. This is what actually makes or breaks a relationship. Without trust, there will be no chance for holding onto that “relationship”. Trust is that Keystone, at the apex of an arch that locks all the stones into position. It's that keystone holding the entire vaulted ceiling in place and preventing it from ever collapsing. Once trust starts to get shaky, it becomes vulnerable to falling apart and ends up breaking and collapsing. In a different analogy, trust is simply like glass. Once broken, there will never be a way of bringing it back the way it was before. Sure, you can still pick up all the little pieces and try to glue them together, but that glass will never ever be the same again. 

Going back to Ra'ed again, it was just unfortunate that he ended up dropping that glass of (trust), shattering it into little pieces, and thus breaking and ending a relationship after he decided to simply pocket the funds he had collected from me for the case that he was entrusted with from the very start. It’s just a shame how short-sighted Ra'ed was, ending up ruining his reputation for the sake of a mere few thousand dollars, putting himself in a situation where he’s now forced to be on the other side of the fence, facing a lawsuit, losing his license and law practice, and killing what could have been a long-lasting relationship... and to top it off, tarnishing his family’s name and legacy. Such a shame indeed.

The lessons I learned from such an experience is how important it is for someone to do what is right to maintain an ongoing healthy relationship. No matter what your profession is, I can assure you that it has to do with building and maintaining a number of relationships one way or another. 

Always keep in mind those three pillars for building proper and trustworthy relationships: “Common Goal, two-way Communication, and Trust”. If you wholeheartedly take the initiative and keep those three requirements in place, your relationships will last forever and ever.

Last but not least, I would like to also mention that as much as there are crooks out there, there will always be a lot more highly decent and trustworthy lawyers as well. Thanks to such an experience, I am now blessed to be working with highly trustworthy, credible, and reliable lawyers who truly go out of their way to make things work. 

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