There is no skill more important to sales, account management, and team leadership then knowing how to build and nurture meaningful relationships. Let’s be honest, this skill may be the most important skill needed in both your professional and personal life. Your relationships, more importantly how healthy they are, can affect your entire day form morning to night. From remote working to online shopping, isolated living, and personal relationships, the pandemic has completely changed how we interact with people personally and professionally. In fact, is it really even any surprise conversational marketing is taking the lead in smart marketing strategies? We all need human interaction, even if it is artificial. Below is a refresher course in relationship building and a few tips for building lasting bonds and repeat business.
"Our rewards in life will always be in exact proportion to the amount of consideration we show toward others." - Earl Nightingale
4 Relationship Building Tips
From the beginning of any interaction, respect must be conveyed to build a foundation of openness, respect, and trust. Ensure you are always honest, open, and set expectations appropriately with your team, coworkers, customers, and peers. After all, the last thing you want to do is build a foundation on misinformation and manipulation.
A recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review study found that respect is 18 times more powerful predictor of a company's culture rating than the average topic in the study, which measured over 150 dimensions of the employee experience. The study goes on to show that feeling respected at work is what matters most to employees and is the single best predictor of a company's culture score
Even though we are beginning to have more in-person meetings and social events, a fair amount of business is still conducted via email, video conferencing, and phones. This poses a challenge when trying to read a person’s body language, facial reactions, and altogether interest in the message you are trying to convey. For this reason, it’s best to keep communication upbeat, but also short and concise as possible in the early stages of relationship building until you fully understand a person’s communication style.
Some people prefer a “get down to business” attitude, while others are more social. You should stick to the agenda with those who are task-oriented, but for the more personable, ask questions about their weekend, birthdays, or hobbies. When you allow others to open up or communicate with them in their style, you instantly begin to build a relationship based on honesty and openness.
When it comes to leadership and communication with your team, it’s easy to jump in and try to take control so that projects are completed the way you feel is best. However, if you do this, you’re not allowing those with the right experiences to contribute. Be open to opinions and alternative work styles. Micromanaging is a disservice to your entire team. Lead your team, not their projects. Make it clear that you are available and encourage questions and collaboration, but are also open to allowing each team member to shine and excel in their own way.
Listening is as important as communicating. More to the point, how you listen is as important as how you communicate. When people talk to you, do you find yourself listening to understand or to respond? Do you hear everything someone is saying and consider what they are thinking, where they are coming from, or what data drove them to their stance on something? Or, do you listen to the surface words in an effort to respond as quickly as possible, considering only your thoughts, feelings, data? Next time you find yourself in a conversation, think about how you are listening, reacting, and responding. What are you considering the most during the conversation? Make sure you listen wholly, and take the time to be thoughtful in your response. Ensure your team, clients, and personal contacts know you are listening and care what they have to say.
Who doesn’t love a compliment or pat on the back? This extends from your professional to your personal life. Give credit where credit is due. Recognize others for their contributions and hard work. Even a simple “Thank you” goes a long way.
One of the first lessons you learn as a child is to do unto others as you’d have done to you. From childhood to adulthood and beyond, treating people as you want to be treated will always reign supreme as the single most important lesson in relationship building there is.
Treat people as you want to be treated.
It’s truly as simple as that.
"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up."--John Andres Holmes
Unfortunately, the pandemic and volatile economic and political environment have made many lose touch with the concept. If this resonates with you, or someone you know, stop and take a moment to think about how you can address your coworkers, customers, and personal relationships with more respect, better communication, and praise. Even just a little of each will go a long way toward building strong, lasting relationships.