In our daily routines, we might find ourselves getting lost at times in what is often referred to as “the grind.” Wake up. Go to work. Work hard. Achieve. In the process of doing what we do, we may have moments where we lose sight of why we’re doing it.
I recall a specific incident in a previous position that woke me up, so to speak, to what really matters. One day I was blasting through an extended list of tasks, which included sending out emails to a long list of clients. My boss was copied on the emails, and he gave me some great feedback: “It might be nice to add something in that’s more personal. Wish them a good day or something. You know, create some warm fuzzies. Clients like warm fuzzies.” And it’s true! Adding warmth to our “business interactions” strengthens relationships and brightens our experience of the moment. In my mind that day, all I was thinking about was checking tasks off my to-do list, but my boss’s feedback made me remember the real reason behind why these tasks are so valuable.
If you feel lost in the grind, check yourself.
The heart of business is not about revenue.
It’s not about deadlines.
And it’s not about goals and whether we achieve them.
Although all of these aspects are important in business, the only reason they’re important is because of the people they impact.
In Start with Why, Simon Sinek writes, “Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.” And how we do create a foundation of happier employees? The key is emotional capital—the ability to connect on a human level. We are happiest when we’ve established a sense of trust and mutual respect with those around us.
The relationships that exist between everyone involved in the business, both with our coworkers and our clients, are indeed the heart of business. As Susan Scott wrote in Fierce Conversations, “Our most valuable currency is not money. Nor is it intelligence, attractiveness, fluency in three-letter acronyms, or the ability to write code or analyze a P&O statement. Our most valuable currency is relationship.” Relationships are the seed from which everything else grows, including success.
Here’s another way to look at this idea. When we focus on relationships as the center of our efforts, we break into higher levels of MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS. The grind is all about surviving physiologically. We pay the bills when we get stuff done. Focusing on relationships, however, moves us into the higher levels of belonging, esteem, and even self-actualization. It becomes about more than just surviving—we’re able to thrive and help others thrive in the process.
Everything we do each day, whether we consider it small or large, creates a ripple effect that impacts others. Every single one of us is endowed with an empowering level of freedom to make a positive impact and grow relationships, both inside and outside our organizations. And whether we succeed at doing so impacts the bottom line on which we so often place our focus. Stats from MARKETING WIZDOM reveal the average business loses around 20% of its customers annually by failing to attend to customer relationships.
It’s eye-opening to consider what we’re doing for the people we work with—and how our choices and interactions with them are changing their life for the better (or worse, depending on the intent behind our approach). Here are a few truths to remember and actively practice that can strengthen your relationships with your colleagues and clients:
The conversation is the relationship. Relationship building cannot occur without conversation. Some of these conversations can be challenging, like when they involve FEEDBACK or CONFRONTATION, and others are simpler and sentimental. Regardless, all conversations have the potential to strengthen connections by granting us permission to explore the thoughts and feelings of another person. The state of the relationship is defined by the quality of these exchanges.
There’s always time. Saying “I don’t have time to strengthen my relationships” is like saying “I don’t have time for what’s most important.” It’s incompatible. If you feel pulled in different directions at any given moment, prioritize according to what is most pertinent to the relationships you have with those around you. Take a moment—commit to finding ways to connect with others. Small acts of appreciation will go a long way. Check out some ideas HERE.
Connect with “Why.” Individually and organization-wide, reconnect with “why.” What is your company mission statement? Who are you serving, and why are you serving them? It’s important to stay connected to a sense of purpose in order to connect to our work on a level that places relationships at the heart of your day-to-day.
Diving deeper will bring you closer. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the weather or the breakroom snacks, but these types of conversations will only get you so far in strengthening connections. To deepen connections, ask questions. If an opportunity arises, ask about the other person’s likes and dislikes, why they like or dislike these things, what their dreams are, how they feel about certain topics, and what matters to them. Listen actively, and be prepared to be nowhere else but here.
Right here, right now, check yourself. Connect with the people who offer a why behind what you do.
If you want to know more about how relationships can lead to greater revenue, download our free whitepaper THE FINANCIAL REWARDS OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: BETTER RELATIONSHIPS BRING RESULTS.