11 Ways to Keep Your Business Relationships Strong (Even When You Think It's Impossible)
Personal relationships aren’t the only relationships that matter.
After all, you are going to spend no less than 40 hours a week with people who are not related to you. Some of them aren’t even your friends.
You are going to have to work next to, talk to and tolerate people from all walks of life and all kinds of different personalities.
And that can sometimes be challenging, if not downright torturous.
You are not alone.
Lots of people dread going to work every day. And it’s not because they hate their jobs. Most of the time it’s because they don’t like the people they work with or they don’t understand the people they work with.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. A little effort goes a long way in making life bearable.
Here are a few ways to develop business relationships that drive you closer to success:
1. Be Personable
Having a boss or a coworker that is easy to talk to makes work a whole lot easier. So try to be that for those around you.
Listen to others and resist the urge to talk about yourself -- even if the story you are sharing is relatable to the other person. Letting them know you are listening and you care is a great way to foster relationships at work.
It’s fine to discuss your interests and hobbies at work, but leave your personal drama at home or in the ear of a close friend. Not at the office.
2. Show Consistency
Be consistent when changing office dynamics and procedures.
If you change the way do things and the way you expect things to be done every other week, you not only frustrate your employees but you also give them no time to perfect the system.
So you never know if it actually works. Plus, you don’t want the office ramblings to include, “don’t worry, it’ll change next week” every time you try to improve the system.
Give your plan time to work. If it’s not working, feel free to try something new.
3. Show Appreciation
There is no question that when people acknowledge your accomplishments and thank you for your hard work, you want to accomplish more and work harder.
A lot of employers don’t think they need to thank people for doing the job they are getting paid to do. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone loves a pat on the back for a job well done. They feel good when they are appreciated. It makes for a happier workplace. And more satisfied employees and coworkers.
And isn’t that what we all want?
4. Be Professional
You set the tone for the people around you. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner, the manager or the employee. The way you behave will directly impact those who work with you.
If you are always professional, respectful, and appropriate, you set the standard for the way you expect to be treated and the way you expect those around you to behave. If you are foul-mouthed, loud and short-tempered, others will soon follow suit with that as well.
Setting a respectful tone for your business also minimizes conflict because those in the office know what will not be tolerated and what is expected when working through problems.
5. Focus on Quality over Quantity
It’s not about how much you can get done in the shortest amount of time -- if you are willing to sacrifice the quality of your work.
You want to make as much money as quickly as possible. Low quality, quickly produced, and sold cheaply seems to be the business model these days. Especially for big box stores. But most people know that they get what they pay for.
So even if you have to charge more for a solid, high-quality product or service, most people will readily pay more if you have a reputation for producing high-quality goods and services. So don’t sacrifice quality.
6. Admit When You Screw Up
Not only should you admit when you or someone in your company makes a mistake, you should admit it as quickly as possible.
The longer they have to wait for an answer, the more upset they get.
Get in touch quickly. Explain exactly what happened -- if you know. And tell them what you are going to do to fix the problem.
What you should never do is point the finger at someone else. You can’t apologize for a problem that you aren’t taking responsibility for. So even if it was a secondary vendor that caused the problem -- you hired that vendor -- so essentially, you are to blame.
Take the blame. Save the relationship. Move on.
7. Give and Take Feedback Productively
There is always going to be another perspective. And you aren’t always going to like it.
Make sure you take constructive criticism with grace. And make sure you are handing it out the same way. The people whose job it is to help you grow your business should never be made to feel small, insignificant or like their ideas are not appreciated.
People innately react more strongly to negative feedback than positive.
Customers are three times more likely to post a negative review over a positive review on any given day. Why? Because negativity leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
So try to positively give feedback.
8. Meet People Face to Face
The same way a date is quick to go south when you meet face to face, business relationships can do the same thing.
You can’t read a person's body language over the phone or over email. You can’t look at their face. See their eyes. You don’t know if they are shooting you straight or being utterly dishonest. And they don’t know those things about you.
So when it is feasible, make it a point to have a quick face to face meeting with prospective clients. Even fifteen minutes can get your foot in a door that was deadbolted before you made an effort.
9. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you find someone who you really want to work with and it’s just not happening as quickly as you would like, keep at it. Be persistent.
Most people throw in the towel at the first “NO.”
Continue to stay in touch. Foster the relationship. Let them know you have something of value to offer them. Let them know you are there for them. And then, actually be there, when the time comes.
Whether it’s a communication platform like Slack for your employees or a facebook group for your customers or an email for your prospective clients -- communication is key.
Make sure you are staying in touch, staying abreast of the goings on and actively participating in each community you are a part of.
You don’t want to be a part of the “out of sight, out of mind” group that only shows up when you want someone to buy something from you or when you want to work with them or need something from them.
Stay active. Keep your name on people’s lips and your picture in their head.
And for goodness sake, use a picture of your face and not of some superhero when you present yourself online.
11. Schedule Time to Brainstorm
Scheduling time to brainstorm is a key element in successful business relationships.
Short meetings in the office to clarify your needs and ideas will not only help those working with you understand what you want from them, it will also give them time to share their ideas with you.
You don’t want the people you work with to misinterpret what you want.
If they aren’t clear, chances are their work will not be right when the deadline nears.
Checking in often on progress and throwing ideas back and forth, even for twenty minutes, can make all the difference in a successful project -- and avoid hours of last-minute work.
You already know what you should be doing.
The problem is, you keep making excuses for why you aren’t doing it. Or you think those rules apply to everybody but you.
The truth is, any positive tool you need to implement to further your success is a good one. So take time to learn what has helped other businesses like yours. And take time to learn the psychology of people who build good business relationships.
When people feel like they are contributing to something awesome and getting appreciation for their contributions, they are more likely to keep up the good work.
And if they feel good about what they are doing, they will make your business look good too.
It's smart to invest in good business relationships. What are you doing to invest in yours?