The Art of Successful Business Relationships

Unless you are an island to yourself, so much of life has to do with relationships. Consider your relationships, personally, professionally and spiritually. If you were to rate the support you receive from the people in your life between zero to ten, with ten being exceptional support and zero having no support whatsoever, how would you rate your relationships?

Whether you admit it, or not, the people in your life affect your success. Spending time around people who drain you, get you angry or discourage you from reaching your dreams, has a significant impact on your focus. You delay taking those next important steps toward your success. By seeing yourself through other people’s eyes, your own vision becomes blurred.

Judgment is something most people don’t want to admit they do, but they do it anyway. Often we are our own worst critic. It is never any fun when you are on the receiving end, particularly criticism.

These five relationship steps will boost your self confidence and reduce your stress.

Who are you taking care of?

When you are with your clients, your family or friends who are you taking care of? If you constantly put your needs aside because you want to make other people happy, you are not being in integrity. Of course it is acceptable to do that sometimes, but when it happens all the time that is a red flag.

You are a unique, valuable individual. You are not going to be in full agreement with everyone at all times. Occasionally it is acceptable to do things your way. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need. It is extremely empowering to stand up for the things which are important for you.

Are you a giver, a taker or a supporter?

It is easy to recognize someone who is a giver and those who are takers. Givers are solely focused on what is in the best interest of the other person. Takers always wonder “what is in it for me.”

If you truly want healthy, balanced relationships in your business and your personal life then cultivate relationships with some supporters. This is very different from givers.

You see givers tend to help others. As a result they do other people’s work, take on someone else’s responsibility and feel they are doing the right thing. In a way they are being helpful, but there is a price to pay for being a giver.

Giver’s like to receive praise and acknowledgement for being helpful. They crave other people reflecting back to them that they are important. They require praise to validate their self worth. Of course most people like praise. Giver’s, however, need it because it fills a void due to low self esteem. By the way when you are always helping and rescuing others, you are not really being helpful. When you end up doing someone else’s work, you are teaching them to be reliant on you. This prevents the other person from learning about personal responsibility.

People who are supporters, on the other hand, do not rescue. The supporter provides guidance as well as encouragement but they do not end up doing other people’s work. Supporters recognize the benefit of someone receiving consequences based upon their actions. They value personal responsibility. Being a supporter is a difficult position when you observe someone fail because of poor choices, inaction or shortcuts. There is so much to be learned from mistakes; the lessons are invaluable. Supporters acknowledge the consequence, see what insight can be gained and respect the other person’s pain. Creating a safe space for someone else to land when they have failed is priceless.

You will be more helpful to the people in your business and your life when you support them along the way rather than do the work for them.

Where do you end and they begin, exploring the boundaries you create.

Boundaries are vital. Think about the last time when you were having a great day and then someone else’s bad mood rubbed off on you. All of a sudden, a perfectly good day was ruined. Or how about the time when someone confided in you about something tragic and the news affected you for the remainder of the day, you were just unable to shake it off.

This is where boundaries are crucial. When other people are having a tough time, it does not mean you have to end up having a tough time as well. You can care about people without having them drain your energy. With practice you can learn to be a support for someone, but not feel exhausted once the conversation is over. Maintaining boundaries drastically reduces the drama.

Do you say what you mean?

When you are talking with a client, associate or friend are you completely honest with them? Typically people favor one of three approaches. Either they are passive, aggressive or assertive.

Passive people are extremely agreeable with everyone else. She is likely to allow her needs to be pushed aside, even if something is important to her. Because she keeps it all inside, she tends to have headaches, stomachaches or some other stress related ailment.

Aggressive people are the extreme opposite. Because of her strong personality, people are intimidated by her. Her big personality, along with expressing what is on her mind without a filter, actually works against her. Too often she says things which she regrets later.

The goal is to be assertive. Say what is on your mind in a tactful, direct manner. Take ownership of your values, feelings and ideas. Discover ways to create solutions by joining forces with people. You don’t need to minimize your thoughts or repel people by responding before thinking.

Do you ever agree to disagree? How do you deal with conflict?

Do you have the skills to say what is on your mind with integrity or do you tend to skirt around issues? People are afraid of conflict, viewing it as something negative. They end up agreeing with associates or family members although they might really disagree with the choice. Learning to respond by agreeing appears safer than disagreeing.

But it does not have to be that way. Consider taking on the role of a mediator. The goal is to find common ground and win-win solutions. Of course you might have to give up something, or alter your plans, but so does the other person. The idea is to have both sides feel like they were heard, reaching an amenable solution while fostering respect and compassionate communication.

As you begin to take the steps to own your emotions, communicate what you care about most and learn to compromise you will feel more empowered. Your self esteem will rise, the stress reduces and there is an overall sense of well-being. The feeling of control comes from within, instead of externally. By displaying self-respect, others will rise up to the standard you set, respecting you as well.

Activity: Determine what you could do immediately to improve personal responsibility. Think about where you tend to rescue others because you want to help them, but you feel it is not appreciated. What excuses have you made for the people in your life? How do these things affect your relationship with people? Who supports you?

Now envision yourself being a support to your client, or family member, instead of making excuses for them. Imagine yourself caring for their challenges, but you don’t do their work. Instead you encourage them to take the next action steps. On the other hand if they don’t do anything, that is okay. This would actually be a valuable coaching session. Consider how this would alter your relationships. How would things be different for you if you were to let go of their outcome?