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Just about everything you will do in your business, in your career, and in your life will depend largely on teamwork with people with whom you have a relationship. It doesn’t matter what your position or title is: CEO, Janitor, Mother, Father, Child, Leader, Follower. Doesn’t matter. You must rely on strong relationships to accomplish your goals, and you must build as many as you can. The more connected you are in your relationships, the faster and easier it is to accomplish your objectives, so don’t let them get run down — put as much energy into them as possible.
A good relationship is more than something we desire; it’s something we need in order to be our happiest and most fulfilled selves. We spend over one-third of our lives at work with others, and these relationships don’t happen automatically. They require an investment from each participant in terms of trust, time, openness, and energy. A huge payoff becomes possible once these investments are made. One dividend is that we can spend more time on opportunities than problems. If we don’t make the investments necessary in forming these strong bonds, more energy is going to be expended in the problems associated with non-trusting, negative relationships and the workplace environments they create.
Although we should try to build and maintain good relationships with everyone, there are certain relationships that deserve extra focus. You would likely benefit from building good relationships with the key stakeholders in your company, for example. These are people who have a stake in your success or failure. In smaller companies, this probably means “everyone.” In larger organizations, this is most likely your immediate team members and your supervisor. Clients and customers are another group who deserve extra attention. Think of the last time you had to deal with an unhappy customer — it was probably challenging, but you grew from the experience.
You will never make everyone happy, but maintaining honest, trusting relationships helps ensure that when things do go wrong, the damage is limited to its minimum. The “give–get” principle states you must give in order to get. Here’s a list of a few things you might ponder in order to analyze your current relationships and discover how you might put new energy into them.
Look at your list of relationships. All those people probably know things you need to know. Set up an appointment with them and tell them you want to draw from their well of knowledge. Most people like being recognized as an authority on a subject, and they’ll love a willing and eager listener.
Decide today that you have committed to being an active listener. When it’s appropriate, ask co-workers if they need to talk and have someone just listen for a while. Most people do need this, but they’re afraid of judgments and criticism. You can make an upfront deal that this will not happen. Commit to listen and suspend your inner dialogue and judgment.
Call two co-workers and offer to help them in a way they need. They may not need your help right then, but the thoughtful gesture will not be forgotten. If they do need help, follow through and over-deliver if possible. Most everyone needs some kind of help.
Get a nice-looking thank you note or use your personal stationery. Write someone a heartfelt note of appreciation for something they did for you lately. It’s even more powerful to write a note of appreciation for some personal quality or action you’ve seen them exhibit lately. It’s nice when someone notices and acknowledges you.
This one is fun: Host a party. Call it a get-together, if that sounds better to you. Especially invite those in your relationship circle with whom you’ve not connected in a while.
The best way to energize your relationships is through some simple, thoughtful gestures and a caring attitude. Put away any hidden agendas and just be a friend. Your energized, helpful relationships will be available when you need them because you’ve given energy to them first. And make the decision today that you’ll make the first move to get to know the other people and develop more strong relationships — you’ll need them. Not all relationships can be great, but your extra effort will make them more valuable and workable for the benefit of all involved.
Tony Richards is an organizational and executive development expert and CEO of Clear Vision Development Group, a leadership and strategy firm in Columbia, Missouri. He is one of Inc. magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers and thinkers. His firm’s website is www.clearvisiondevelopment.com. Follow Tony on Twitter @tonyrichards4.