Building better personal relationships

Apr 14, 2008

You take a look at any really successful person— whether they are in the A/E/P or environmental business or some other business— and I will show you someone who knows how to build good personal relationships. It’s key to keeping clients, retaining employees, attracting partners (business or otherwise), and making sure that there will be a lot of people at your funeral. Here are 10 things that those who know do to build and keep better personal relationships: Be the initiator. You need to be the one who sends “how are you?” e-mails or makes the call to see how someone is doing with no particular agenda in mind. That shows you care about the other person and will help make them like you. Be responsive. I’ve written and said this so many times no doubt some of you must be sick of hearing it. Yet, I will say it again— you have to return phone calls and e-mails if you want to show you care. Anything less than a quick response communicates that you don’t think much of the person contacting you— not the way to establish a lasting personal relationship! Talk less— listen more. Ask about the other person. People who do this are well-liked. People who don’t do this are not so well-liked. THE most successful people I know really practice this— they talk very little about themselves and instead are all about you. Don’t violate trust. You have to watch what you say about others and, by all means, show you can keep a secret. Trust is always key to any lasting relationship. If you violate it— even once— it’s very, very hard, if not impossible, to regain it. Offer compliments. People like to hear good things about those who work for them, about their companies, their appearance, their family members, their city, their homes— be the one who compliments others, sincerely, of course, and they will like and remember you. Don’t always have to win. Let’s face it. Successful people are competitive. We don’t like to lose an argument, a golf game, or credit for a big sale. But sometimes you have to let the other guy win or they simply won’t like you. Be gracious. Be willing to lose. Be someone who can let the other person bask in the glorious sun every once in a while, and your long-term relationships will be better. Do favors. Help out the other guy’s kids who are looking for jobs. Be the one who does a small project for free. Come to a meeting you don’t have to go to because it is in the client’s interests. Doing small favors over time really adds up to strengthen a long-term relationship! Show loyalty. Treat your vendors, suppliers, and employees the way you want to be treated. Bear with them through minor problems or mistakes and remember the long-term relationship you have with them. This will get the same response to you from them over time. Remember names and other informational bits. Everyone likes it when you remember their names, their spouses’ name, where they are from, etc. It shows you pay attention and care. That said, I don’t think birthday cards from mere acquaintances mean much. You should see how many cards I get on my birthday from car salespeople, insurance salespeople, and dentists! They don’t mean much!! Volunteer. Sign up for the bad assignment. Help out with the charity fundraiser. Lend your pick-up truck and a hand when someone is moving. All of these things show you care about the other person. People who consistently show they care and are willing to help out have a lot of friends over the long haul. Originally published 4/14/2008

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.