I remember a meeting that I was sitting in where the facilitator had us go around the room and say one word that best described what was most important to us in relationships. What did we value most?
Participants shared one by one, mostly saying words such as love, understanding, kindness, etc. As the words were said everyone nodded and smiled. All very worthy values. Most of the people in the room related to each other.
When my turn arrived, there was no question in my mind which word towered above all others. What I have valued most as a child and still carries the most weight as an adult is “loyalty.” There seemed to be a silence that came over the room. Oddly, I didn’t see any head nods. Smiles transformed into quizzical looks of uncertainty.
The facilitator responded with, “Tell me more about that word.” Why didn’t he ask anyone else to explain his/her word? A sudden awareness came over me. No one else in that room was Italian. Any other Italian would have given me a head nod or said that word prior to my turn. I responded, “The word speaks for itself.” After an awkward pause, the facilitator moved on to hear the rest of the participants share words like thoughtfulness, empathy, etc. The nods and smiles returned and comfort levels resumed to normal.
If you ask any true Italian what they value most in a relationship, he/she will state without hesitation “loyalty.” By the way, that word applies to intimate relationships, friendships, and colleagues. It is pretty much a no-brainer.