Relationships are everywhere. At Greenville, practically everyone is married or about to be engaged however let’s not get into that hot mess today. We are here to discuss business and working relationships. The ability to relate to others is an important business and life skill that is essential to develop. I believe that while not everyone is born with the gift of relatability, it can be learned. Relator is my number 4 out of top 5 strengths, meaning I like to think that I can get along with just about anyone. Even so, sometimes I find myself in situations with people that I would rather not work with, but have to. Many times I find myself going back to the basics of how to get along with others in order to make the best of it, when that is the last thing I want to do in the situation. So, if you find yourself in the latter situation frequently and do not see yourself as a person who can converse easily with others, have to fear because there is hope for you yet!
Within The Geek Leader’s Handbook, authors Paul Glen and Maria McManus use their own personal experiences and professional opinions to set out 8 steps for building new relationships at the workplace, and specifically with clients.
1. Put yourself in your client’s shoes – I agree with this being the first step. Before you can begin to build the trust a relationship of any kind needs, you must have perspective of the situation. This includes the situation from all angles. Taking the time to look at a situation the way that your new client would, automatically makes you able to be more receptive to their wants and needs.
2. Find out what a real win looks like for your client – As a businessperson, if this step wasn’t obvious before…it should have been. You cannot begin to serve another person until you know what kind of service they want and need.
3. Suggest changes to your deliverables if necessary – Always remember that while the customer may always be correct, you are the trained professional with experience in this field that they do not have. Hopefully the client will be open to suggestions from you and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
4. Show them your commitment – Again, should be obvious. No one wants to work with someone who seems lukewarm about the entire project. Clients and colleagues want to see your commitment and drive toward the current assignment. If you don’t show your commitment, you run the risk of losing the client because they’ll never feel confident in you.
5. Take responsibility in getting your point across – There is no point in communicating if no one is understanding the message. It is important that you make sure others understand what you’re trying to say. Sometimes our thoughts are great, but somehow there can be a disconnect between the brain and mouth and that’s not ideal. Communicate what’s most important to the client, show them the big picture idea, and make them feel comfortable enough to ask questions throughout the process.
6. Tailor your message to the client – Each individual client is the target. If they do not know what you’re saying then there’s really no point. Make sure that you change each conversation towards the client’s preferences. This applies not only to the vocabulary and jargon used, but also the time, frequency, and communication channels used. Find out whether your client prefers phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Ask them what time of day would be best to contact them. Also, gage how frequently the client wishes to be updated because you do not want to annoy or on the other hand, seem too distant.
7. Demonstrate integrity – Do what you say you’re going to do, at the quality you promise, and in the time frame agreed upon. That’s all there is to it. Otherwise, you’re flake and no one wants to work with you again. I promise that a lack of integrity will never lead to great working relationships (or personal relationships for that matter).
8. Deliver – Again, come through for the client and show that you can come through for them consistently.
While these points are great and I do not doubt the authors at all, I believe the best way to learn relatability and relationship building is to go out and do it!
Don’t be like these people. They obviously are lacking patience to follow the above 8 steps to forming new relationships. Here they are not looking at the situation from the other’s perspective, tailoring the communication, making sure they’re each understood, or demonstrating integrity. Such simple, tangible steps can make such a difference in your workplace relationships!