Within the relational matrix, we fundamentally and dynamically relate to each other in 5 ways. The extent and depth of trust and intimacy that we have with and for each other is also reflected in these 5 manners in which we relate one to another.
The first way in which we relate with each other is severally. As an adjective, describing the manner of relating, this word severally means respectively, individually, particularly, specifically, differently and separately. We relate and treat each other as unique and distinct individuals. We recognise that who I am is different from who you are. All that I am and all that I have belongs to me even as all that you are and all that you have belongs to you. In essence, what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.
To many of us this is the normal and default mode whereby we relate to the majority of the people that we meet and come into contact with everyday; the strangers that we pass by, our colleagues and others in our workplace, services providers to us and so forth.
To relate to each other severally is to recognise the authenticity of our own identity and the authenticity of the identity of others.
In this respect, it is good. Relating to each other severally affirms the integrity and wholeness of who we are as a person and the integrity of others as persons, in their own right, at the same time.
We also relate to each other in a common manner. Though we are several, ‘what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours’, we recognise that sometimes we have shared and overlapping interests. As such, there are times when we choose to pool resources by contributing part of who we are or what we own into a common pool or venture so that parties in common may benefit from such pooling and sharing of resources. At the same time, the downside or lost to us is limited to the contribution that we have put into the common pool: our energy, time, money and the likes.
Relating because and sharing of a common stake enhances and deepens our understanding and appreciation of giving and receiving. We give a little of what is ours and receive a little of what is others within the sharing in the common. We are brought into a new relationship and experience of being fellow stakeholders with others in proportion to the limited contribution that each brings into the common.
Being common shareholders in a limited company is one such relationship. In common, a portion of ‘what is mine and what is yours’, is now being shared in a common pool( the company) and treated as what is ours, in proportion to the contribution that we have made and agreed to. What each person contributed continues to be recognised as that person’s distinct and divisible interest in the common. Another case is when two or more persons hold property as ‘tenants in common’, in equal or unequal shares.
A representative element is found in the next relationship. This is when we relate to someone as a representative of another or be the representative of another. Here, a person(Representative) assumes the role of a person chosen or appointed by another(Appointee) to act or speak for another or others when relating to others. One instance is an ambassador of a country; a person appointed to represent a country in a forum or place. The ambassador does not act or speak for himself as an individual. He acts or speaks for and on behalf of the nation he is representing. Another illustration is an attorney under a Power of Attorney; a person appointed, given the authority and recognised as having the authority to act for and on behalf of the giver or appointee of the Power or Attorney. The attorney is representing his Appointee and acts for and on behalf of his Appointee, as if he is the Appointee.
In relating to a representative, we are not relating to the representative as his own person in his own right, but as a different person, the person he is representing. Being a representative, I am not who I am, my actions are not mine. In a sense I assume the identity of my Appointee and my actions are the actions of my Appointee. It is only when I am not acting as a representative am I, severally, my own person, and responsible personally for my actions.