What is all the latest fuss about the ‘power’ or ‘magic’ of relationships in business? Over the past few weeks, there have been at least 10 articles, videos, and podcasts cross my social media channels; all spinning yarn around this ‘new’ concept of building relationships as the magic bullet to business. Frankly, I don’t get it. From my perspective, this is a fundamental 101 pillar for life and business – and has been my ‘True North’ since my mother and father reared us with that value set. Why is it all of a sudden getting ‘hype’ as it this is some mysteriously, magical, and new concept?
I have my theories….yet, the net is this: whoever thinks that SUSTAINABLE success in business (or life for that matter) can occur without authentically building solid relationships is in for a rude awakening. This is not some new ‘ah ha’ for most of us; yet, I am certain we have all experienced the less than genuine connection or the person that is solely ‘in it’ for themselves…..after all, this is the ‘human condition’. However, what I know for sure (to paraphrase Oprah’s phrase), is that relationships are key to long-term success – by any definition – in life and in business. How do we build REAL relationships which survive long after a ‘transaction’ has been executed?
1. Keep your mouth closed and listen. I am astounded at how many folks simply can’t help themselves and feel the need to expound, with virtually no filter, on how much they know, their various opinions, exclaiming their superiority in a specific industry…..with no regard to the person with whom they are engaging. This may bring admiration or acknowledgement of your superior knowledge or success in a field – yet, it will not build a connection. Connections are built when folks LISTEN and HEAR one another. If we want to establish a bond, then we need to shut our mouths, listen, and HEAR what the other person is saying AND understand from where they are coming. THAT is the first step.
2. Serve others. This is simply not about us. Period. This is about giving more than we get. It is about giving with no expectation in return. This is about solving their issues, addressing their needs, and aligning our approach to their ‘end game’. It is about helping others and simply treating them the way we would want to be treated – if we were in their shoes. In my first book, ‘Is This Seat Taken? Random encounters that Change your Life’, I share my philosophy of why I believe we are in ‘earth school’; which is: to teach one another, to learn from one another, and to serve one another – all with LOVE being the energy which enables this. When we extend ourselves to one another with pure intentions of being in service to another, the result is indeed magical. This is not a new ‘ah ha’….this has been a basic truism since the beginning of time. Yet, we often lose the plot; as we become more focused on what we can get out of ‘it’. We need to get back to the basics….the outcome will always take care of itself.
3. Make this a ritual. Building relationships is not episodic. It is not something we ‘do’ when we ‘need’ something. Relationships – true, grounded, strong, and pure relationships – are built through consistency. Much like a person’s reputation, how we show up day in and day out is what we become known for. Are we reliable? Are we ‘always there’ for the other person? Are we honest? Are we the same in the dark and in the light? Are we consistent in our loyalty to the other person (or company)? Relationships are hard to develop, much less maintain, when they resemble the Forrest Gump saying: ‘like a box of chocolates, one never knows what you are going to get’. The manner in which we treat our relations is powerful when our character and associated behaviors toward others is as consistent as a ritual.
4. Honor the line. Finally, we need to honor the unspoken, though respected, lines of a relationship. I have been astounded by many who have little, if any, barometer as to what is appropriate and what is out of bounds. I, for one, will not do business with those who have values which go against my grain ethically, legally, and morally. Period. Yes, I leave business on the table; and yes, I have many who question this philosophy; however, this resonates with how I make meaning in the world. As an entrepreneur, I can make that decision and do so with no explanation needed; so, admittedly, it is easier than when I was a leader in a large corporate environment. Regardless, in our relationships and in our businesses, we need to know where the line is, honor it, and not cross it – unless we simply do not care about long term implications or the relationship in which it may affect.
Building strong, connected, and good relationships are integral to success. It is as simple as that. This is not a new phenomenon. This is not revolutionary. Yet, is it quite often overlooked, abbreviated or ‘cut out’ all together, in the name of expediency, greed, or overzealous ambition – which is naïve and amateurish. Make the time. Make the effort. For the sake of building strong authentic relationships, this is time spent you will never regret.
When we build our business and life relationships, from a position of pure intention, can and will be of mutual benefit to ourselves and others. Simple, basic, and true.