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Building Relationships

I was traveling in the spring of 2008, where upon settling down just after takeoff, the president of the airlines came on the screen with a short message of welcome. He ended his talk with, "After all, we want to win your respect everyday."

There have been thousands of words written on building relationships within the structure of your business environment and more specifically, your immediate team. You need to earn their respect - everyday. What’s so wonderfully rewarding about building relationships is that it’s no different than your close, intimate friendships. They come with no strings.

The biggest mistake people make at work is they search for allies. That’s understandable; we’re all looking to connect with others. But, what often happens when someone’s personality is much different than our own is we retreat from forming the relationship.

Take a minute to ponder the following: Who is that person on the outside looking in?  Is it them? Or, is it you?  Somehow, when our perception is they don’t think the same as me, we choose to stay a safe distance from the battle.

The Conflict Within

Remember the old saying, "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." If two instincts are in conflict, i.e., build the relationship (success), or stay away from the unknown (failure), one has to win. In most cases, due to your own insecurity, failure is the victor.

Suppress the Impulse to Fail

Your instinct to not build the relationship may be based on something totally out of the other person's control; they are simply non-verbal people and you are mistakenly judging them on external actions rather than internal desires. Never believe anything bad or negative about a person unless you know absolutely for sure it is true. Begin the relationship by thinking inside (heart) rather that outside (externals). Mostly, people are persuaded by caring individuals who have the capacity to look within a person.


Win their Respect

In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie speaks of a man who had 314 employees. Kindness, words of appreciation and encouragement were so alien to him that not one person would greet him when he walked through his own establishment. After applying the concepts he learned at Dale Carnegie’s course, his life was revolutionized. Now, his employees are all his friends. Even the janitor calls him by his first name.

I truly believe we live our lives focused on just trying to make a living, not giving much thought to one of the most precious gifts our maker has bestowed on us, which is to connect to others.  That’s why we’re here. This concept of connecting, combined with a little knowledge of taking your bad habits and turning them into good habits, will enable you to uncover and develop a plan of action that will change your life forever.

We live in a box of limitations. Once we make the decision to leave that box, a new awareness is revealed that creates a new dimension to our personality, which is to increase your desire and your ability to get people to like you. Your new world will be more fulfilling and you will experience more success than you ever imagined possible.


Build sincere relationships similar to your close friendships

When building relationships with others, treat them all as you treat a close friend. My pastor at Parkside church, Alistair Begg, frequently advises, "Be careful not to criticize or speak ill of your relationships. If one gossips to you, they will also gossip about you."

Benjamin Franklin was tactless as a youngster. As he matured into an adult, he turned his life around, so much so, that his contemporaries referred to him as a genius at handling people. Later in life, when Benjamin was made Ambassador to France, he let everyone know his secret, "I will speak ill of no man or woman and speak all the good I know of everybody."


Search to connect rather than search for an ally

Upon joining a new organization, our first objective is to find an ally, one who offers a mutual benefit of a mirrored reflection to our own way of thinking. Your purpose is to connect to others so that you form strategic relationships that are similar to, but different than, an ally. Your purpose has an advantage, because you are sincerely and willfully searching to connect at a deeper level, deliberately trying to form the relationship.  However, because your non-verbals, such as eye contact, hand gestures, facial expressions, etc., set you up to be misunderstood, some encounters may begin negatively. You must recognize the need to break through this barrier and begin to look inward. When they know you care, the relationship then becomes meaningful.


Stay away from any thoughts of failure

As they say in Texas, "Don’t worry about how much milk you spilled, as long as you still have the cow." I’ve always believed that failing at something, i.e., "I didn’t get the order” or “I could have worked smarter on that project," is just that; you failed but will become successful on the next go around. You are not a failure. However, if one believes they are a failure, even before they begin a project, then they become absolutely predictable and no one will want to be around them.

Although our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, started out as a failure, he went on to snatch success from the mouth of failure and became one of our greatest Presidents ever.

In addition, I was told at the Detroit School of Announcing and Speech that I would never make it in the business of radio and television.  Failure is often the recipe for success.  I fully embraced that thought and enjoyed a 40 year career in the broadcast industry.                   


Judge from the inside not the outside

John D. Rockefeller became successful on several fronts but one of his most endearing traits was his ability to look within a person. Mr. Rockefeller was quoted as saying, "The ability to deal with people is as purchasable commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun."

Many years ago, the University of Chicago conducted a survey to determine what adults want to study. The survey included questions such as: What is your profession or business, your education, your ambitions, your hobbies? How do you spend your spare time? What are you most interested in studying? The study revealed that health was the primary area of interest for adults. Their second area of interest was people: how to understand and get along with people; how to make people like you and how to win others to your way of thinking.

You see, if your expectation is to form the relationship at the heart level, to express and share ideas and to arouse people’s enthusiasm, one must look inside where people are more apt to relate.


People are persuaded by a noticeable change of heart

Dave Browne
CEO, LensCrafters

Dave Browne was one of those unique individuals who glowed with success and confidence. He was brilliant when it came to financial analysis, retail operations and marketplace leverage. Like an MBA on steroids, he brought the discipline of steel-trap analysis to a hard-working gang of passionate mavericks. He was competitive and wanted to win. Dave was the kind of executive Wall Street loves.

However Dave was a self-proclaimed “numbers-only butthead.” Those around him appreciated his genius and respected him, but it was clear he was not the CEO and the boss; he was not the leader of the company. He was unable to inspire people to the next level because he was only dealing in facts. Dave was quoted as saying, “I was trapped in a factual channel mantra of better, faster, cheaper.”

LensCrafters needed to look inward to improve productivity and efficiency. “I only talked about the head, never the heart.” Sales increased but passion and alignment began to fade. He began to feel the loss of company spirit. Dave realized he needed to change. “I needed to transform LensCrafters by transforming me.” He created the Gift of Sight program which was the key to bringing more heart into the company.

Dave spoke to his employees and told a personal story. He let people know the principles his immigrant father, who was in the audience, inspired. “My dad made sacrifices for me. I was thinking about my faith and family and I realized that I did not have to be the stereotypical Wall Street CEO. I still want to win I just wanted to win with heart.” When he finished speaking he received a standing ovation. Not the obligatory applause of deference but of their appreciation of their leader and boss.

The Leader’s Voice, Clarke and Crossland 


Stay remarkably happy and positive

I remained on the air performing my early morning drive radio program for over 36 years. The one comment that echoed through my entire career was how do you sound so happy at 5:30 a.m. and stay so positive? Despite the fact I only had a microphone in front of me, I could visualize my audience and sense their feelings on the important things that impacted their life. I was trained early on to listen to people when they spoke. What came out of that was I actually listened to them speak from their hearts, rather than just a collection of ideas and thoughts. I knew they related more to a smile and kind gestures rather than facial features that spoke of anger and an argumentative posture on everything. It’s a choice you make, a desire of your heart to remain happy and positive.


Remember their physical stature has nothing to do with their heart

Several years ago I read in a survey that tall people were more appealing in business and in social gatherings. The survey went on to say that despite legitimate competition, in more cases than not, the tall person left with the order. Another observation made was short people are often intimidated by taller people’s height. The final comment made from this survey mentioned how employees were intimidated by individuals who held managerial positions. Even if the executive was short and chubby, if he/she was the Chairman or President of the company, people feared them.

Over the years I have interviewed hundreds of government leaders on the local, state and national levels, including Presidents of the United States.  In addition, I have had conversations with many popular entertainers and sports figures. Regardless of the person, whether it’s President Reagan or Omar Vizquel, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, my experience has been that when you are one-on-one with them and they can sense your care and concern, the door is opened to connect and have them respond in a positive way. You’re able to attach yourself and bond with them and therefore the relationship is tied to a union.


Be careful not to give off thoughts of thinking to highly of yourself

How often over the past few years have you picked up a magazine or read your morning paper to find yet another Chairman of a Fortune 500 company is going to prison for cheating his company, a celebrated athlete returning their Olympic medals for cheating, or the Governor of the largest state in the union resigning for indiscretions? They all fell off their celebrated pedestals because they thought more highly of themselves than their company, team, or constituents.

One of the most interesting and insightful books I have read most recently is the biography of Vince Lombardi, the respected coach of the Green Bay Packers. Even though he received much of the credit for the Packers’ Super Bowl victories, he instilled in his men that it was not about him but the team and how they worked together to achieve success. "It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in the most remarkable way and once you have won their hearts, they will follow you anywhere." He went on to say, "Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another."

True leadership happens when one aspires to not only lead their team but share the glory.

Never underestimate the heart of a champion!


Don’t be double-minded, it will give off ideas of conflict

The dictionary describes the word double-minded as having a different mind at different times; unsettled; undetermined.

During the time of Jesus, vows were common but Jesus told his followers not to use them. Their word alone should be enough. "Let your yes be yes and your no, no."

We should be known by our word…our promise. To say one thing and do another sends mixed signals. Your receiver begins to see two vastly different people; one to convince you and the other to deceive you. You not only become less easy to understand but difficult to rely on. Those around you will quickly become incompatible.

If you are double-minded in your words you will also become double-minded in your actions and your loyalties.


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Fundamental Principles to Building Relationships

Win their respect
Develop sincere relationships similar to your close friendships
Search to connect rather than search for an ally
Stay away from any thoughts of failure
Judge from the inside not the outside
People are persuaded by a noticeable change of heart
Stay remarkably happy and positive
Remember their physical stature has nothing to do with their heart
Be careful not to give off thoughts of thinking too highly of yourself
Don’t be double-minded; it will give off ideas of conflict.


"And men of all nations, from the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the Wisdom of Solomon. (Kings 4:34) This passage reminds me of Larry Morrow as a teacher. His wisdom, integrity and indefatigable spirit are shared with his students-regardless of their role, education or background. He is an educator for all seasons."

Janice Murphy
Fairview Hospital
Cleveland Clinic


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