I was watching a Boston Legal rerun the other night with Nancy. In the scene, attorneys Jerry and Alan are realizing that they have been too busy to connect as friends. Alan laments that he never wanted to put work before friendships. Jerry replies,
“Friendships are little like a backyard flower garden that we plan to tend to, but…”
This rang a bell for me. My temperament runs toward task orientation. Give me a task and I’m on it. Tending to relationships is work and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Relationships can be messy; people disappoint us, as they are not available when we need them to be and yet, relationships are the key to our success in business and in life.
– Whether it is a salesperson building customer relationships that lead to a sale;
– Or, a buyer cultivating relationships with sellers in order to ensure a steady and reliable stream of supplies;
– Or, a project manager developing relationships with colleagues so the project can be completed.
Relationships are important and they should be tended. I remember many years ago, when I was relatively new in business, I developed a great relationship with a client named Marty. After he took another job as a VP for a large National Bank outside my territory, I set the local sales rep up to work with Marty. The deal was worth $500,000 a year. The contract negotiations broke down and my friend called me in desperation. Long story short, I was able to help close the deal for my colleague, because of the trust Marty and I had developed in our relationship. We were able to operate at what Stephen M.R. Covey calls The Speed of Trust®.
So how do we tend to relationships?
1. We need to commit to them. Even with all the things that beckon and call for our attention, the time spent together talking and learning about each other is critical.
2. Make it a point to stay in touch by
b. Phone calls
d. Lunches, dinners, coffee
3. Little remembrances like birthdays, or the mention of the book that they might find interesting, are ways to deepen those bonds. I remember a friend sending me a tie that I commented on – it was a gesture that showed he had been engaged and remembered our conversation.
What are some of the ways you tend to relationships?
Do you have relationships that need tending?