Step 4: Relationship Management - the Secret

Last Updated Feb 23, 2009 2:10 AM EST

Building successful relationships with people, particularly those at work, is far and away the most critical factor in a successful business career.

Surveys of successful general managers continuously rank people skills above such factors as intelligence, vision, and ethics. As I have said before I am a big fan of the Humm-Wadsworth model of Temperament which defines our personality in terms of seven key components. While each of us has all seven emotional drives it is the strength of each drive and how they interact that makes each of us unique. However, as general rule, most of us have two drives that are dominant and two that are weaker.

The golden rule of relationship management is that we like those who are like ourselves. In other words if we meet someone who has one or the other of our dominant drives you have the basis of an successful emotional relationship. If you assume that seven drives are equally distributed then you will get along with 28 percent of the population that you meet by just acting naturally.

You sometimes hear the phrase that selling is a numbers game. What this means is that if you make enough contacts then sooner or later you are going to meet people who have either of your dominant emotional drives and acting naturally the two of you will form an emotional bond. The reality of selling is that you sell to the heart not to the head. People buy emotionally and rationalise the subsequent purchase logically. For example, I may buy a Mercedes because emotionally it satisfies my need for status, but to the outside world I say I bought it because it is the car that best maintains its resale value.

The secret of relationship management is to understand what behaviours you need to adopt to get along with people who do not share your core emotional drives. In a previous post, I suggested doing this simple assessment. This should be followed by recognising that when you meet people with whom you do not share core emotional drives that you have to have the flexibility to modify your own behaviour.