Human beings are emotional creatures. We long to connect, to be seen, heard, felt, and understood. We strive to make good first impressions because we know what’s at risk if a first meeting goes wrong. Acceptance and recognition are perhaps cornerstones of what makes us human. We want to be part of the pack, to run with the herd. We crave recognition for what we contribute, and how we perform. Every race, every culture, every civilization yearns to feel united.
In business or in our personal lives the relationships we establish and maintain will ultimately determine our level of success, happiness and fulfillment. Building relationships is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Know this…the best things in life take time and a lot of hard work. Healthy, productive, and positive relationships are no different. And also know it’s a two-way street. The best relationships are not just about you, they are about the greatness that is produced as an output of two people, parties, partners, etc, coming together. With all great relationships the sum of the whole is much stronger than the sum of the parts.
Two specific elements are necessary for all great relationship to take seed: trust and authenticity. Both are difficult to establish but for different reasons. Trust requires risk and is a gift given to others. Authenticity requires truth and is a gift given to yourself.
Lasting relationships are built upon trust. Both parties must trust that the other has their best intentions in mind and in heart. If there is doubt in either, then trust does not exist. If breached, trust is very difficult to re-establish…perhaps impossible. Taking advantage of someone is the surest path toward damaging trust. In the business world this might look like playing hardball with pricing, financial compensation, terms and conditions, or a legal but perhaps unethical use of leverage. Doing what’s right is not the same as doing what is legal. My first boss taught me an important lesson….”if it’s right for the customer, and right for the business, and assuming it’s legal, then do it.” Notice the legal aspect is a given. It’s like integrity…it’s a must…it has to be there. Assuming it is, then focus on doing the right thing for the customer, friend, spouse, partner, etc., first…everything else follows.
Trust also is a reflection of character – acting authentically. Doing what’s right when no one else is looking. In the business world it is often easy to confuse charisma with character. I’ll write more on this subject in a future blog.
Authenticity requires self-awareness. You may be thinking that you’re already self-aware and if you are that’s awesome. But for most people the exercise of becoming self-aware is ongoing. It’s not a one and done. It’s a continuous assessment of yourself, your goals, your ideals, your philosophies, and your priorities. As circumstances change you need to reassess yourself. This is how many people get lost in their circumstance as opposed to remaining true to themselves…being authentic. No place is this more visible than in business or in the world of celebrity. As people acquire more power, money, and material things, they risk becoming out of balance between their circumstance and their “self”. To remain in check ask these two questions periodically: what is the most important thing in my life, and are the things I am doing aligned with what I’m saying is the most important thing?
By operating from a truly authentic place, you will be able to develop long-lasting relationships. You will develop a reputation as being someone who is trustworthy, loyal, and committed to doing the right thing. Before long you will sought after for your insights, ideas, and relationships.