Five steps to fast relationships

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We all know that relationships with colleagues and clients are important but how can you build them quickly? Mark West of R&A Consultancy & Training explains.

Relationships are everything in business. As a leader, as a networker, in teams, in sales and in front line customer operations the chances are that your success will be dependent on your ability to engage deeply and effectively with colleagues and clients. More than this it is increasingly important that you understand how to do this at speed.

Let me give you an example of why fast relationship building is important.

Take a new customer situation and ask yourself on what criteria they will base the decision to do business with you. Your product or service is unlikely to sell itself.

Your best edge is in your personal dealings with your client. People will do business with people they like and trust and if you haven’t invested in the relationship there will be no reason for them to choose you.

Or take the case of a matrix team. How can companies expect people from different functions and offices and with different skills and perspectives to bond into an effective team? When such teams come together for short, sharp projects they need to be able to hit the ground running. And the best way to ensure that people make a powerful contribution is by encouraging strong relationships.

So with this as the rationale the next question is how you can build fast relationships? The answer is by addressing these five key components.

1. Belief: Your beliefs drive your behaviours. If you go into a meeting ‘believing’ that the person you are about to talk to is difficult then guess what? That is the outcome you will get. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But what happens if you speak to that same person believing that they are really on your side, that they could be a great asset, perhaps even that they need your support? What then? No surprises that this will have a completely different impact on the relationship.

So your challenge here is to enter into every relationship with a positive belief and intent.

2. Congruence: Your body is the message! Go into a room talking about what a great product or service you have - but holding yourself in a way that suggests you don’t believe it - and the response you get will be suspicion.

The challenge is to work on your congruence. This means making sure that what you are saying is in line with what you believe, that your energy supports your line of conversation and that you know how to match your language, voice, tone and pace to that of the person you are meeting.

3. Empathy: Empathy is about shared understanding. It relies particularly on your ability to listen deeply and on your ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective. When you do this you will learn a great deal about what matters to them and this will allow you to have a much better understanding of the issues they face or the goals they are trying to achieve.

4. Emotional investment. Consider what happens to you when people criticise you, blame you or score points at your expense. The likelihood is that you will either withdraw or respond in kind. And of course this impacts negatively on the relationship. In contrast when you take actions that acknowledge colleagues, appreciate their qualities and accept them for who they are you immediately engender openness and respect.

5. Accountability: And finally, accountability. How many people in relationships make promises which they have little intention of keeping? And what happens when leaders make requests of others but then don’t follow through. In relational terms this is key. Broken promises undermine trust – so be committed; stay true to your word and hold others accountable for theirs.

So these then are your foundations for a fast relationship and if you practice them you will be able to transform your working relationships. And that will lead to both greater personal satisfaction and far greater business success.

R&A Consultancy and Training provide leadership, team and culture change programmes and provide NLP training for businesses. For more information T: 01344 872026 or see www.raconsultancy.com

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