14 May The Importance of Building Relationships
Whether personal or professional, in customer service or employee to employer, building successful relationships may be one of the most important qualities that a productive member of society can possess. With three kids under the age of 14 at home and multiple employees in the workplace, this feels like a relevant topic that can never be given enough attention. In my opinion, real success, the kind that exists on multiple levels, is impossible without building great business relationships. I find true fulfillment isn’t achieved unless we treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect. Here are some tips that have served me well over the last eight years of running Camelback Vending Services.
1. Take one for the team.
A customer gets mad. A client complains about poor service. Whatever the issue is and regardless of who is actually at fault, sometimes the best thing to do is take one for the team. Being in the service business means sometimes a person must be willing to accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it—and they know that maybe, just maybe, another person can’t. Few acts are more selfless than taking one for the team. And few acts better cement a relationship.
2. Step in without being asked.
It’s easy to help when you’re asked. Most people will. Very few people offer help before they have been asked, even though most of the time that is when a little help will make the greatest impact.People who are good at developing relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. They’ll offer to help, but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way. Instead, they’ll come up with specific ways they can help. That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections. They don’t do this because they want to build a better relationship, although that is certainly the result, but simply because they care.
3. Answer the question that is not asked.
An employee might ask how I built a successful business; they aren’t necessarily kissing up, they might just be looking for some advice—and encouragement—to help them follow their own dreams. Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships think about what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.
4. Know when to dial it back.
The most outgoing and charismatic people are often a lot of fun… until they aren’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, some people still can’t stop expressing their personality in a way that starts to feel over the top. I have definitely fallen victim to this. (Admit it: You know at least one person so in love with their personality that they can never dial it back.) People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow. We must have the ability to be diverse.
5. Prove they think of others.
The best relationship builders don’t just think about other people. They act on those thoughts. One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise—it’s like getting flowers not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but “just because.” Praise helps others feel better about themselves and lets them know you’re thinking about them.
6. Realize when they have acted poorly.
Most people apologize when their actions or words are called into question.Very few people apologize before they are asked to—or even before anyone notices they should. Responsibility and reliability are key building blocks of a great relationship. People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don’t try to push any of the blame back on other people—those are people everyone wants in their lives.
7. Value the message by always valuing the messenger.
When someone speaks from a position of power or authority it’s tempting to place greater emphasis on his or her input, advice, and ideas. The guy who mows our lawn? Maybe we don’t listen to him so much. People who build great relationships never automatically discount the messenger and hence the message. They know good advice is good advice, regardless of where it comes from. And they know good people are good people, regardless of their perceived “status.”