The Next Relationship Fundamental

My last post was the initial installment on what I believe to be the four fundamental aspects of any strong relationship (read it here). Establishing and continuing to build rapport is essential, but on its own: meaningless.

Without prior rehearsal or discussion, Laurie Barkman’s comment segues perfectly into this next topic. Laurie wrote, “I like that you mentioned not to pretend to have something in common if you don’t. Rapport and relationships are built on trust and pretending ruins the foundation of trust. It may also stop further questions / exploration that could lead to finding out something in common.”

The Second Fundamental: Trust

Any meaningful relationship requires trust in order to flourish. When my daughter jumps into the swimming pool, she trusts that I will catch her and ensure her head remains above water. I trust my wife’s judgement on, well everything: from decisions impacting our family to verifying if my clothes match. I could ramble on forever with various examples of trust, but I’m sure you get the picture. Without trust, relationships fail.

Trust in business relationships is equally important. Would you do business with someone who hasn’t proven themselves trustworthy? Not a chance!

In order to foster a meaningful trust-based relationship keep in mind:

  • be honest and open
  • be genuine
  • exhibit integrity
  • do what you say you will
  • actions speak louder than any words

I had a former manager whose philosophy on rapport was to “Look around the person’s office and find something to talk about. Even if you don’t know or care about what you are talking about, pretend you do.” WOW, right?!! What a horrible way to start a business relationship! Maybe I could get by in our first meeting, talking about how much fun I have when I ___________, but eventually the truth will come out. I would have immediately broken any trust I had established, all for a measly opening line.

Trust is a crucial component of any relationship and needs to be treated with the utmost care. Often establishing trust can be the most challenging, but the most rewarding.

“The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it’s very difficult to build and very easy to destroy. The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer.” – Thomas J. Watson

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

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8 thoughts on “The Next Relationship Fundamental

  1. Hmmm. I can see a sliver of usefulness in your manager’s approach, but the key would be intent and authenticity. If I see the office covered in sailing photos, models, etc. it would be utterly false, fake, and stupid of me to pretend to know anything about sailing as a way to build report. I’m from the high desert, I know nothing about sailing and it would be painfully obvious. But, what a great opportunity to learn about that person’s passions and what interests them. Such a difference to say, “I’ve never been sailing, what do you most enjoy about it.” I can’t relate to sailing, but I can relate to enthusiasm, passion, and drive.

    But that goes back to what you were saying about being genuine and honest…

    • Broc, I like you take on how to structure the sailing conversation. I’ve learnt a lot about prospects and customers by asking them about there hobbies/passions: often things I know nothing of. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Pseudo-relationships are plentiful but don’t last long. Relationships built on mutual trust and respect may be harder to foster, but are worth it in the long run, from both a business and a personal perspective. Looking forward to hearing about your next relationship fundamental!

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