"communication"Or do customer and client relationships need something more?

Is communication the end of the story in client relationships? Sometimes people ask if “relationship skills” are part of communication. The reality, of course, is it’s the other way round: Communication is part of relationship skills. “Communication” is transactional in nature, happening only in the moment, whereas relationships exist through time.

The phrase “relationship marketing” is often used, but what does it really mean? What would you expect to see going on when people are doing relationship marketing? The answer to that question is not so obvious, and thinking about what you do when you handle relationships well is likely to help you reproduce your own best results more easily. Women have a natural advantage in this area in business and the workplace because they seem to be predisposed to take relationships seriously.

Two things follow…

One, these skills are valuable and should be encouraged and, two, men could benefit from learning from the example. As a society, it seems we’ve still to find the appropriate balance between the masculine and feminine sides in the male and female nature.

So what are some of the things that are important in handling relationships with clients and customers?

First and foremost, being conscious of where your attention is – on yourself or on the other person. This is partly about listening well, but it’s really more than that. Do you focus on what’s happening and important for the other person, putting your needs and wants out of your mind for the moment? That’s likely to help you. It sounds obvious, but do you really do that consistently? Of course, you still want to be clear beforehand about what you want, but don’t talk about it, that’s the thing.

A second key is being familiar with the values at work in the relationship – what’s important to either party. Long term, people will only behave in accordance with their values. Expect anything else and you’ll be disappointed. How do you find out someone’s values? Easy enough, just ask, with a question like “What’s important to you about…?,” provided you establish enough of a relationship first.

So how do you establish a relationship quickly?

Well, there are many things to work on here. The key is being aware of all the ways in which you can be like the other person and acting on that knowledge. There’s lots of opportunity for learning and growth in this area. Likely, you already dress to fit in, speak about topics that are socially acceptable, and take some care over your body language. Less familiar may be matching the style of other people’s thinking and what they prefer to focus on – do they prefer certainty rather than flexibility, for example?

As you develop your ability to tune in to your client or your customer, you will increase your ability to sense what is going on for them – a very useful trait indeed. Women are typically already more adept at that than men, but even so, may be unaware just how highly developed the ability to read other people can become – just one good reason to regard relationship skills as more than communication. There are many more. In the end, the ability to relate well to other people is the most critical skill a person can ever have.

Bio ~ “Dr. David Fraser is a Chartered Engineer, NLP Master Practitioner, Certified Mediator, business coach, program management consultant and family man. He is author of “Relationships Made Easy for the Business Professional.” For free information, resources and masterclass programs see http://www.drdavidfraser.com .”