Building Blocks for Beneficial Business Relationships

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Relationships have been top of mind for me all week. It could be that my wife and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary next week, while all around us we hear of yet another couple announcing a divorce. It could be that a client sent me a Dear John letter on email on the same day that another took me out for lunch to thank me for “the best thing he’s ever done”.

It takes a dedicated amount of time and energy to build good, strong, lasting relationships. Why is it that some marriages last and some fail? Quite often it’s the same reason why some business relationships flourish while others flounder because after all, people do business with people, not companies.

Here’s my take on what makes relationships last.

1.Shared values and goals

In life, we seek out people we like, who we share similar goals and values with. It’s not necessarily about sharing the same opinions or interests, it’s about having a common moral character in the way you approach life, it’s challenges and its opportunities. Our values are our moral compass, our guiding force, our non-negotiables. Relationships go pear-shaped when one set of values conflicts with another.

2. Partnerships

It is 2017. There is no place for power and dominance in personal or business relationships anymore. As a society, we have advanced socially to form bonds that are mutually beneficial. Relationships are partnerships. Whether it’s with your spouse, your brother, your boss, your supplier or your client, the relationship will only flourish if both parties see the relationship as a partnership where there is give and take, where both need – and want – each other for their contributions, where there is mutual respect and where the result is a win-win for both parties.

3. Being authentic

If you have to change who you are or how you behave for the sake of the relationship, it’s doomed. Be who you are and accept others as they are. It’s easy to create a false persona, especially online, in pitches or proposals, but that is not the way to start a relationship and is short lived when we start qualifying people and companies. Find people and companies you feel a natural connection and ease of communication with.

4. Trust

A relationship without trust is no relationship at all. If you constantly have to watch your back, if you are second guessing each other and looking for ulterior motives, you are better off ending the relationship. Trust is the one ingredient that builds strong, long lasting relationships. It’s more difficult in business, where competition, politics, and greed seem to rear their ugly head. When we educate, help and inspire others with our experience and expertise, we are building the foundation for trust that underlies relationships that endure.

5. Communication

Relationships do not work if you can’t communicate with each other. Good communication means you need to pick up the phone or talk face to face and discuss issues as and when they arise. Conflict is healthy if both parties listen to understand rather than listening to respond. Both positive and negative feedback, when properly communicated, can strengthen a relationship and provide a greater understanding and appreciation of each other

6. Do not test the relationship

I won’t forget our anniversary next week. Well, I might if my wife doesn’t constantly remind me! We have a theory that we should never test each other… because the chances are we might fail! The same is true in business. When you test a relationship, you set it up for failure. When you have preconceived expectations of people, then we set ourselves up for disappointment. Always go into relationships with an open mind, realistic expectations and never assume.




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