Women inherently view and manage relationships differently than men – we are definitely wired differently. As women, I believe we have an advantage because we possess the maternal instinct and intuitively empathize and relate to our colleagues and clients. In fact, studies have shown that women make the best sales people and typically possess the emotional intelligence to be a great leader. Why? Because we instinctively are great at managing relationships!
My many years in sales and in leadership I have developed a simplistic formula I would like to share with you for identifying and managing those relationships that support our ultimate goals in business and life. After all, spending time with people we admire and adore is what it is all about, right?
Self, Self, Self
It is all about YOU, so begin with you! This is a time for you to be selfish and keep your best interest at heart as you perform this exercise. Ask yourself: What is important to you as it pertains to the relationships you need and want in your life to be happy and successful? Searching within ourselves is essential to identify the key characteristics of those relationships we need and want in our lives, personally and professionally. Spend time with those that celebrate your presence. The most important relationship is with ourselves. Each morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself how fabulous you are. It is so very important to present yourself with confidence. Believe and you will achieve.
Once you have identified the characteristics of the relationships that bring you joy and success, it is necessary to categorize and organize them appropriately. Why is this so important? Each relationship is different and should be managed accordingly to include the boundaries that need to be established. Each category is different and requires activity that is designed to promote effective communication resulting in a successful healthy relationship. For example, your “A” category is your “VIP” list that you will touch on a regular basis and be in constant communication with, such as your top clients and strategic partners. Have fun with this process for it is designed for you and only you. I refer to my “A” list as my “Hot Dog” friends, for they are the most important relationships and as such, I spoil them with much attention.
The 5 Love Languages
A great book to read that focusses on how we show love and receive (absorb) love is written by Dr. Gary Chapman. While the book was written with the intent to provide guidance for marriages, it is truly insightful as it relates to relationship management as a whole, personally and professionally. Knowing your primary love language is essential, for we have to manage the relationship with ourselves before we can truly be effective at managing our relationships with others. Another key point is having the ability to recognize another’s love language so that you are showing appreciation in their love language. For example, your “A” client’s love language is gifts, so you would give them appropriate gifts to show your appreciation. And, remember, communication is the key component of any healthy successful relationship.
Each year we perform a spring or fall cleaning in our homes and office to eliminate waste and items we are no longer using. So why would we not perform this exercise with our database of contacts and clients? We should! I am a firm believer in metrics and accountability, especially in our professional relationships. I strongly recommend you perform an annual evaluation of your client base, strategic partners and community engagement commitments such as associations, chambers and committees. Each relationship should be mutually beneficial. Take into consideration if the relationship is profitable and beneficial for both parties. For example, if a client is costing more to maintain them than what they’re returning, perhaps we should release that client so that we can spend time with those that are profitable. Even with strategic partners and community organizations, we should perform this exercise by asking the simple question: Are they celebrating my presence or tolerating my presence? We should only spend time with those that celebrate our presence and not just tolerate it. And definitely do not spend time with those “energy vampires” or negative personalities.
By applying my simple formula above I am confident you will have a great start to a prosperous 2015 filled with much RAIN (Relationship + Activity with Accountability + Internal Inspiration + Natural Navigation = RAIN). Relationships are key to our happiness and success. Always remember to celebrate you and your successes!
Cynthia Blackwell is the founder and managing partner of BlackRain Partners, a full service business consulting firm specializing in revenue growth, financial advisory services, leadership development and organizational health.