The Hallmarks to Success in Both Business and Personal Relationships 

Business depends building relationships that are strong, enduring and reciprocal. Whether it be with your boss, colleagues, mentors, clients or others in your professional network, actively building relationships and developing those boundaries is crucial to long term success and growth for your products or services.

 One of the challenges to building strong relationships today is that our connections with others are becoming increasingly superficial. On social media platforms, we add people to our network and our interactions are limited to the web. Relationships with customers are resume in “likes”. Emphasis on number of “friends” or “contacts” lead us to focus on the superficial and quantifiable rather than the underlying quality and value of those relationships. 

So how do we build strong business relationships? By learning about the qualities and elements that affect our relationships with other people, we can get to deriving real value from our relationships and partners. Interpersonal values and skillsets ultimately can help us to build them better, more substantial, and valuable relationships which are of pivotal importance in business, no matter what is your industry, and essential in the personal and family sphere as well. 

If you are struggling to either develop or maintain positive relationships in your business, then read on about 10 essential human qualities or practices that may help you to develop stronger and more meaningful relationships in your industry today: 

Empathy

Empathy describes the ability to feel the mental states of other people; it is the ability to see the general other’s way of thinking see the world through their eyes.

Empathy is a natural skill often overlooked, or sometimes even looked down on scornfully as being related with ‘weakness’. However, empathy is actually crucial to success in building strong relationships and related to the concept of emotional intelligence and support. People lacking empathy struggle to assess or comprehend the emotional states of others and as such have more difficulty relating to them and in turn motivating or persuading them. Seen in this light, it becomes obvious how empathetic business owners will be more successful than the boss whose door is always closed. Managers or business owners capable of empathy will create more loyalty in employees of his service and they will likely stay longer in the company. Empathy is also essential for potential customers.

Fortunately, empathy like public speaking and other interpersonal skills is something that can be developed with practice and patience, thus enabling us to build stronger relationships.

relationships with customers small business

Sensitivity

An important feature of a strong and meaningful relationship is sensitivity and it also augments the ability of an individual to be empathetic. Likewise, the modern world, having a lack of appreciation for vulnerability may have some tendency to look down on sensitivity as being a weakness, prioritizing decisiveness and resoluteness or being “tough and strong” as necessary character traits to success.

That view is however, flawed, as sensitivity, like empathy is one of the chief bases for strong relationships. Consider two warring nations as an example: The peace process cannot make any progress when both parties remain intransigent and opposed to considering the grievances of the other.

Sensitivity is about revealing oneself – even including areas of weakness, in an effort to be authentic and honest and invite the ‘other’ to do the same. By opening the door for the ‘other’ to relate and share, relationship building becomes easier. Individuals who are capable of being sensitive and respectful are more likely to have meaningful, valuable, and reciprocal relationships than narcissists who cannot see outside themselves and are always looking over their shoulder.

Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of business relationships. Without trust there can be no understanding of true intention and sincerity is entirely wasted. Words become just that words – with no promise of follow-through or reciprocation.

Strong relationships in business or personal area like family are built on trust and commitment.

Building trust takes time and energy as well as all of the other interpersonal skills detailed above. On the flip side, losing trust takes only one ill-fated mistake which can irreparably damage a relationship built over a lifetime, especially between consumers and companies. In sales domain, trust is crucial to build referrals and partners relationships. Trust is one of the precious resources a brand or a company can use when times become difficult for an industry.

Bearing this in mind we can see that trust is a long-term relationship skill and trait which can only truly develop to its pinnacle when all the aforementioned relationship skills are harnessed to their full potential.

Respect

Respect is one of the first things we teach our kids – sufficed to say it is relatively straightforward. If you don’t respect your friends, colleagues, or clients, why should they respect you? Strong relationships require reciprocal commitment and mutual respect. Human culture is replete with narratives and aphorisms like “you reap what you sow”, or “you get what you give”. It’s not unlike math in the sense that the ‘equation must balance’, or the ‘relationship cannot hold’. Treat your colleagues, customers and partners with respect to form solid boundaries.

Respect is key and applies equally to building and nurturing business relationships as it does personal ones and many would consider it the starting point.

business relationships social media

Value and Attitude: Give Before You Take

Returning briefly to the analogy of peace talks, progress is typically difficult until one party first makes a concession which prompts in turn the opposing party to reciprocate. The same applies to business: We provide something valuable before asking for something in return. Employers today frequently complain about self-entitlement in new recruits who are expecting to get something before ‘putting in their dues’ to receive it. This is a short-term perspective which has negative consequences for both parties.

A better approach is to first create and provide value before demanding something back. Employees should first ask themselves “how can I deliver value to my employer” before asking the employer “what can you do for me”. The individual who takes this approach demonstrates a special pride and willingness to invest in the business relationship as an end in and of itself rather than being simply a superficial and necessary step towards remuneration.

By taking the first step, individuals build greater long-term prospects and referrals while ensuring a more harmonious relationship with their employers, colleagues, mentors, consumers etc.

How often have you wanted to do something nice for someone only to be frustrated that they did it first? Instinctively we all know that in such situations the person who gave first was the strong one as they led by example.

Good intentions

Stable and valuable relationships begin with good intentions whereas “relationships of convenience” begin with self-serving ones and a “get before I give” mentality. When good intentions are reciprocated, relationships may develop and deliver satisfaction not just as tangible benefits occur, but also as the relationship becomes a positive end in and of itself.

We’ve all met people with whom no matter how hard we try to explain something to them, they simply refuse to understand and while it’s normal for people to sometimes become entrenched in a position making accord impossible, sometimes merely knowing the other person has good intentions can open them up to hearing your point of view, and in turn letting themselves be ultimately convinced or at least forcing them to reflect on their previous position.

Being sensitive and empathetic is of paramount importance when it comes to perceiving good intentions, while at the same time knowing the other party has good intentions can increase willingness to be sensitive and empathetic and open to considering conflicting points of view. Interactions based on good intentions and a natural kind inclination towards the other can build trust and an amazing customer experience.

Bringing Unique Perspectives

Meaningful relationships may only develop when we value the perspective of the ‘other’. When the ‘other’ offers a unique perspective based on their experience and potentially different values, that plays a valuable counterpoint which enables us to check our own points of view. All sales and marketing people know that: you should understand first the customer point of view before trying ton sell anything.

People who know you well through a long and shared history provide context to your actions and the motivations behind them. They help you to understand subtle changes in your psyche over time, while reaffirming the things that are constant and unchanging. By maintaining worthwhile and enduring relationships, the opportunities for fresh or unique perspectives from peers are increased, thus enabling you to change your position on things more readily when needed and explains why employers value loyalty as an employee attribute.

A diverse set of longstanding peers helps one to avoid living inside an “echo chamber” and in turn can help them to build new and enduring relationships.

Sincerity

The cornerstone for meaningful and authentic relationships is sincerity. While it is not easy, individuals mustn’t be afraid of expressing sincere opinions if they truly value the relationship and the opinions of their peers and partner equally.

There is an unfortunate and frequent tendency in the professional environment for firms to purposefully skip controversial topics. In such business environments, rumours may spread quickly, and instead of uncensored opinions, fake nods, smiles, and other gestures take their place as individuals rely on ambiguity to avoid conflict.

Underpinning this though, is a climate of fear – where the truth cannot be spoken. This is especially common in boss-subordinate relationships and can ultimately place a huge bottleneck on creating value in the business as potentially more informed subordinates are simply afraid of voicing their views for fear of being chastised or fired by management. In such cases, we could say that a strong employer- employee relationship is missing entirely.

In healthy business relationships, there is a freedom to bring opposing points of view whether it be through open-door policies, whistleblower hotlines, or otherwise.

These help to ensure better team morale and reduced turnover as problems are faced head-on before they can metastasize. It also underlines one of the most important aspects of diversity hiring practices: By hiring individuals of disparate businesses backgrounds and skillsets, more points of view are accessed, creativity is bolstered, and business agility is enhanced.

Challenges and challenges to the status quo

Like having a fresh or unique perspective from a colleague, having someone willing to challenge the status quo is especially important, and even more so when that person knows how to voice their challenges wisely. This does not mean we should seek to expand our teams with people ready to grumble or complain but rather with individuals who know when to follow, and when to break from the following mentality. Yes-men and yes-women may be good for self-esteem and ego, but practically speaking they offer nothing more than trivial assurances at best.

Relationships where fertile debate can and is actively encouraged affords opportunities for shifting perspectives and an environment of healthy rivalry. The “free hand” of the market economy is premised on the notion that challenges will naturally rise to the norm, and where relevant, force the norm to capitulate and change course for the benefit of businesses.

Competition and challenge are inextricably linked, and successful firms embrace challenge, rather than shying away from it. So, the same goes for relationships – embrace adversity as it fuels growth for your product or service.

Business relationship: Face-to-face meetings

Tools for online communication, such as TEAMs, ZOOM, and other are all very convenient and useful – and have proven invaluable during the course of “the pandemic”. However, the strongest relationships almost always have an underpinning real-world interactive element. You should also try to build relationships in the real world without virtual interactions.

There simply can be no substitute for face-to-face meetings when the largest challenges are being confronted.

By meeting someone face-to-face we not only improve the possibilities of communication, we also demonstrate the importance of having that meeting and in turn the relationship that underpins it. Such meetings as a rule require more participation and time investment and naturally enable that relationship to evolve much more quickly as communications happen in real-time with all the subtleties of body language and unspoken communications being present.

In IT Chapter we strongly believe that deliberately building business relationships is a key to achieving business value weather you are a a big or a small business. To learn more, contact us at contact@itchapter.com or consult our website.

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