Business Relationships

You Vill Get On Zee Board!

Photo by: jennifer_wilkinson via Flickr

One of my absolute favorite experiences on a cruise I went on last year was a surfing/boogie board simulator called the Flow Rider. On the Flow Rider the water is coming out at 35MPH which makes it easy to glide along on your boogie board. The person operating the ride was a big athletic guy with a thick accent. My wife and I called him the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Flow Rider. He wasn’t as concerned about the time it took for people to get on the board as he was about people actually getting on the board.

Some of the younger kids, as you can imagine, just hopped up like it was nothing, but some people, like me, needed some guidance and coaching. Hearing “You Vill Get On Zee Board” was very reassuring. It was clear he meant what he said. There was little doubt he would do his part to make it happen.

His attitude is the essence of this technique:

Be aware of the value you bring to the relationship.

  • “Arnold” exuded confidence. He knew what he was doing, and as a result it was easy to have confidence in him.
  • He brought value in the form of being knowledgeable about the equipment, experience in being able to teach people how to have fun on the ride, and his physical presence which made you feel he could take care of you if something went wrong.

In any  relationship you are bringing something of value to the table. When you know this as fact, whomever you’re interacting with will be aware of your value and the relationship is more likely to be positive. Be like “Arnold.” Be confident in who you are and what you do,  and you’ll get people on the boogie board.

Intellect Over Emotion: Successful Business Relationships


As an employer, I depend upon my employees having a 100 percent commitment to their jobs. They depend on me having a 100 percent commitment to mine. As a result of these commitments, we have strong work relationships.

A successful business is built on strong relationships.

Whether it is the employer to employee, co-worker to co-worker, or the business’ relationship with its clients, a business cannot succeed without all of these relationships functioning in a positive manner.

A business relationships’ success is predicated on an individual’s ability to be 100 percent committed to it. If the relationship was viewed as 50/50, one party would be in a position to do nothing but react to what the other party is doing. When people are reactive, their emotions are overriding their intellect. As a result of this dynamic, solid decisions are more difficult to make.

Intellect before emotion!

Business relationships sometimes begin as a result of emotional attraction. However, an honest assessment of compatibility must be made. As in any other relationship, the emotions are only one consideration. Here are some simple questions to answer when evaluating a business, or any other, relationship:

  • What value do I bring to the other person, what do I have to offer?
  • What value does the other person offer me?
  • How will this partnership benefit everyone involved?

Having the ability to answer these questions honestly will have a dramatic affect on your success. Any relationship should provide benefits to all involved parties.

Achieving a balance between emotional motivation and sound judgement is a challenge. Without finding this balance it is difficult to build and maintain relationships that have merit. Take the time to think through why you are involving yourself with something or someone. Know what your values are and stick by them. In your business and personal life these attributes will benefit you.

Commitment is the Key


Elena found herself in an extremely difficult situation. After making the decision to change the dynamic of a relationship with a long-term supplier, she realized it would be a tough sell. Elena wanted to alter the connection because she had noticed a degree of mistrust in her dealings with the supplier, and she thought she knew why.
Elena had completed “Relationships for the Intimately Challenged” and decided to seek consultation from me in order to improve her business relationships. Particularly interested in examining relationships, Elena had discovered when interactions are viewed as 50/50 someone is always in a state of reaction and someone is always keeping score.
“It is impossible to maintain a true attitude of trust and service if both parties view the relationship as 50/50,” Elena explained, adding “I knew this supplier viewed us with a degree of paranoia. From their perspective, they believed if a problem ever arose, we would simply take their expertise and find a cheaper alternative to rectify the problem.”
Because Elena was aware of the supplier’s fears, she came up with a simple plan.
“I knew that I would need to be very clear in the explanation of my company’s commitment to their service,” Elena said. “I worked very close with the supplier to create some shared objectives, which I knew would illustrate that we were partners and show my 100 percent commitment to our shared success.”
This relationship included several components, such as equipment, processes and maintenance. Several people were involved. However, my client knew if the department heads were on the same page and dedicated, they would be able to work together.
The first time there was a major problem – an equipment breakdown – these new commitments were put to the test. The knee-jerk reaction was to start finger pointing and determine who was to blame. Was it the supplier’s responsibility for providing faulty equipment or systems? Was it my client’s company’s fault as a result of poor maintenance?
Of course it was important to figure out where the problem started, but both sides realized that in order to have a true partnership they must work together to identify the problem and develop a solution.
“The initial conversations were a bit contentious,” Elena said. “But, because I was aware of the supplier’s fears, I was able to reiterate my commitment to our relationship. I realized it was a little difficult for the supplier to completely buy what I was saying, so I put it in writing and sent it to him.”
Elena believed it was important to shift the nature of the relationship and create a system of accountability. As a result of her clear assurance, the supplier was able to relax. But the supplier’s change didn’t stop there.
“After receiving my written explanation, the supplier was a little blown away,” Elena explained.
“They were so impressed that they agreed to replace the equipment at a reduced cost and provide additional support. I wasn’t necessarily seeking this kind of solution, but I certainly took it!” she continued.
This story illustrates the importance of viewing any relationship as a commitment. Although Elena would have been disappointed had the partnership dissolved, she would be able to walk away knowing she did everything in her power to make it a success. Because of Elena’s commitment, the supplier was able to build trust, which made the supplier willing to go the extra mile to provide quality service.
Always be aware of your level of commitment in a relationship. When you focus on your value, commitment and strength, you will create an atmosphere of trust and mutuality. In the end, everyone is a success.

Photo credit: Eschipul via:Flickr

Improve Any Relationship (Even Those at Work)

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a seminar at Advanced Services, a pest control company in Augusta, Georgia. I was invited by Jeff Annis, the owner, to speak about healthy communication in the work place. Jeff didn’t invite me due to problems at Advanced, he simply wanted to see if there were ways in which they could improve the communication on the management team. Based on my interview with Jeff and his general manager, Pat VanHooser, I developed a plan of action for the day.

I came up with “Five Techniques to Improve Any Relationship (Even Those at Work)”. Over the next month I will go through each technique in a blog post, a short video, and a podcast. This is valuable information and I want to share it in whatever medium is best for you. So check in periodically and you will have the opportunity to learn about these Five Techniques. Here they are:

  1. Listen, No Really Listen, to the Other Person
  2. Avoid Contempt Prior to Investigation, If You Think Something……Ask!
  3. Remember You Don’t Work in a Community of Mind Readers
  4. Warm Fuzzies vs. Real Change
  5. Understand then Be Understood

All of these techniques are tried and true. They do work. They apply to any relationship. I will explain them in a work environment context but don’t allow that to exclude your participation. I’ll check in soon!

Success in Business Part IV: Anticipate Their Needs!

This is a continuation of the series I have been writing on managing a successful business. Much of what I focus on is service. Providing good service is the number one key to success. By providing quality service, you are able to build trust. With this trust you form a strong relationship with your client/customer. The relationship establishes loyalty and generates strong word of mouth referral. No matter how adept an organization is with advertising and PR, without trust, relationships, loyalty, and strong word of mouth referrals, a business will struggle to find long term success.

An effective way to establish these qualities is to have an ability to meet the needs of your client before they are even aware of their needs. A recent experience of mine illustrates this point very well.

I just returned from a wonderful cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. It was seven nights of absolute relaxation and escape. As we cruised around the eastern Caribbean I found myself amazed at the amount of thought which went into the creation of this entire experience. I felt the same way I do when I am at Walt Disney World. It seemed as though they thought of everything.

  • Our stateroom was always cleaned
  • The waiters remembered our drinks
  • The shows were fabulous
  • The pools were immaculate
  • The excursions were easy and fun

I could go on and on. My point is simple. In any business there is a version of being able to leave the client with the feeling that they are important and taken care of. Do you make this a priority in your work? Whether you own a business or not, you provide service to someone. Someone relies on your genuine care and concern. Those who realize this fact and anticipate those needs will thrive. Those who don’t will continue to flounder and wonder why they can’t catch a “break”.

On which side do you want to land?

Success in Business Part II: Why Do You Do What You Do?

2065048572_8007046b87I didn’t start my company because of an insatiable appetite for deal making and business prowess. I didn’t possess a lot of know how and I certainly had no business experience. I started it because I was willing to take responsibility for a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program on its last financial leg. I have acquired a great deal of experience along the way and I have learned a lot from many sources.

My business is rooted in my love of helping people. I have been in the counseling field for almost twenty-two years. I am as enthusiastic about helping people now as I ever have been. The daily application of this love has evolved but the foundation is the same. My advice to anyone starting, or purchasing, a business is know why you want to do it. I haven’t felt like I’m “going to work” since I started my company. There have been trying times and difficult situations but nothing has dampened my enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter what business you get into, it matters if you love it. Regardless of the amount of money you make, and I hope you make a ton, if you are not in love with what you do, you won’t feel successful. If you’re a dealmaker make sure you love making deals. If you’re a writer, make sure you love to write, and on and on and on.

Security is important. Financial security is important. I love when Dave Ramsey says: “Money isn’t the root of evil, it’s people’s love of money that creates problems.”

To be successful in business, it is critical to know why you do what you do. I know I love to help people. The businesses I frequent most often have a passion for what they do. Think about where you spend your money. Think about how you feel when you spend your money at those places or for those services. I guarantee that you feel better when you are dealing with a company that is passionate about the service they provide. Be that company. Be that provider. If you are, you will be successful.

Photo Credit:Jasperdo via

Success in Business Part I: Work Together and Everyone Wins

3169262303_de9262f5d8I started my company, Stonebraker’s Inc., in 1993. At the time, I had no idea how to run a business, much less sustain it for this long. Today I am able to recognize some of the steps I have taken and communicate them in a useful way. It is imperative to share any insights, ideas, and wisdom that may be beneficial to people if we hope to build a strong and supportive community. Over the next several weeks I will dedicate a post per week to share some of what I have learned, along with some of the mistakes I have made. I will continue to write on other topics but I feel it is important to focus some attention on this particular area.

Many people are afraid. Several companies are operating from a collective consciousness of fear, negative competition, and lack. I believe that companies which place a high value on the morale of its employees, along with its relationships with other companies, will not only survive, they will thrive.

My next post will explore this topic deeper. Think about your relationship with your company, whether you are an employer or an employee. Do you feel a sense of connection? Are you able to maintain a sense of enthusiasm about what you do and those who work with you? Is your primary focus on beating the competition or creating relationships in which everyone is able to prosper (if they so choose)?

Photo Credit: galleryquantum via Flickr