In writing these tips about business relationships, it dawned on me there was a lot of wisdom to apply to all relationships — intimate, family, friends, casual acquaintances.
You are going to have to be brave to apply some of these — being open and vulnerable can be scary. I know — I was shy. It affected my relationships adversely because fear prevented me from allowing people to know the real me and from showing vulnerability.
The good news is that everything becomes easier with practice. I made a decision to be brave because life wasn’t great and I knew nothing would change until I did.
I can tell you, the effort was (and is) worth it.
Life is better because my relationships are better.
So if some of these tips challenge you, don’t just skip over them. Be brave, do the personal development work. I promise you will reap benefits in many areas of your life.
Here we go –
Be YOU, Be REAL
If you want to use the buzzword for this, it’s AUTHENTICITY.
It’s about being who you are and accepting others for who they are.
Find people that you feel a natural connection to and can communicate with easily.
Let people get to KNOW the real you so they can LIKE and TRUST you.
Find people with SIMILAR VALUES to yours
You don’t have to share the same point of view but sharing similar values will help develop TRUST.
It doesn’t take long to get a gut feel for whether a person is honest, helpful, kind, treats others well etc.
Don’t deal with people you don’t like or trust — it’s not worth it. I know it can be tempting at times when you view someone as a good potential client or source of referrals or connections but if you see red flags or hear alarm bells then quietly back off. Trust your gut. The head can be tricked, the heart is a fool but the gut is always right.
You don’t need to have all the answers — be VULNERABLE
It’s okay to say that you don’t know something. Find the answer or solution and come back to the person who asked. It’s much better than giving a wishy-washy or inaccurate response.
Part of being authentic is sharing a little vulnerability. It’s okay to say that you feel nervous, apprehensive etc — it helps people relate to you. We often connect on shared experiences and emotions. No one relates to perfection so stop trying to look like everything is perfect — it’s better to be human.
Foster mutual RESPECT
This happens over time, as you get to know each other and see how each of you deals with different people and situations. This is more easily done in a club or organisation or social setting where you meet the same people regularly eg a civic club, Meetups etc.
A good indicator of a person’s real nature is how they treat other people. If you observe them treating others with very little respect, tread carefully. One day that could be how they treat you.
Don’t get involved with gossip or back-stabbing — simply excuse yourself from any talk or group that does this. Be the one to build people up, not tear them down behind their back.
Always speak highly of the people you choose to have in your network — and let these people know that you recommend them to others.
Whenever possible support each other, do business with each other, refer each other. Business can be tough, life can be hard — loyalty is much appreciated.
SHARE your connections (and friends)
Introduce your connections to each other whenever you think it might be mutually beneficial for them.
The greatest compliment in business is a referral. The quality of your reputation can depend on the quality of your referrals — so make sure you only refer those you TRUST.
Have FUN together
Life isn’t all about business or work — plan some fun activities to invite your connections to eg community events, art show, music concert.
You will get to see a different side of each other and have some laughs and memorable moments along the way.
NB This is written during Covid19 restrictions so large gatherings of people are not permitted but as restrictions lift we can once again invite people into our homes, go on a beach walk together or do a small group tour.
Spend a little one-on-one time with someone so you get to know each other better. A chat over coffee can see you learning about each other’s family, interests, travels etc. It’s no coincidence many business opportunities come from friendships formed by bonding over mutual interests other than business.
Be brave enough to let people see the real you. Let them get to KNOW you so they can LIKE and TRUST you.
This is a MASSIVE, LIFE-CHANGING epiphany!
Go into relationships with an open mind and without assumptions. Accept people the way they are, and not how we want them to be.
This way you have a better chance of coming to know them for who they are, and can save the disappointment of shattered illusions.
Many relationships run into strife simply because one person had expectations of the other that weren’t met. The less you expect of someone, the less room there is for them to let you down.
Expect very little, appreciate everything — it’s a big key to happiness.
OFFER something BEFORE ASKING for anything
Educating, helping or inspiring others is a way of SERVING them. When we blog, post, hold workshops, speak, go to events etc — we are sharing our experience and expertise so as to HELP others.
I’d go so far as to say it’s great to offer something WITHOUT asking for anything.
Another aspect not many people realise, is that ASKING for a small favour is a way of GIVING something very important — your TRUST. Eg asking someone you just met to keep an eye on your backpack or laptop while you duck to the bathroom is showing a level of trust that makes them feel good and encourages them to trust you in return. Trust is a valuable commodity — never underestimate it’s worth.
As you can see, it comes back to three main principles –
Treat others as you would like them to treat you
Give without expectation of anything in return
Always act with integrity
We all have some kind of belief in ‘reaping what we sow’, whether we call it karma, ‘what goes around, comes around’ or something else.
To have good things happen in our life, business or personal, do good things for others. I have benefitted from this principle many times and in many different ways, making my life so much happier and richer. It really is that simple.