“Why don’t you go to Sasi to seek some guidance? She has quite an experience in this field.” Garvi was suggesting to her colleague Ms. Mathew. “Sasi, oh my God, I would prefer to live with the problems than approach her. She is no doubt, quite knowledgeable and intelligent, but she is a total negative person. You would lose all your interest in doing anything after talking to her.” Garvi smiled. There are many people in every organization who have exceptional knowledge and skills but have very poor inter-personnel relationship.
Talking about Mr. Saxon, the air hostess was remarking in their in-house meeting “Sir, he is no doubt our prime customer and a frequent traveller. It is indeed a privilege to have him on board, but one gets so frustrated before he disembarks, because every five minutes he has some complaint to make. Oftentimes, his complaint is about the co-travellers. He appears to have a superego and considers all others as nuts.” Everyone smiled. People may occupy very prestigious positions but may not be liked by many because of their poor relationship skills.
I recall knowing the head of an organization who the colleagues describe as one who always carries a pound of salt and pepper on the face-not on his beard, but on his temper. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed” says Carl Gustav Jung
Relationship management is very critical not only to a leadership but has value to almost all ladders in the professional career of any organization. That apart, it also has a great social value, as one to be acknowledged, respected, and loved.
Says “Forbes” magazine in the article written by Brian Tait “Relationship management is the art of influencing people to become to best version of themselves. It is a known fact that we become who we spend time with. It is important that with the people with whom we spend something as precious as time, we create an environment where growth comes naturally. It is very important to have a positive environment in all your relations in life. “
In the article “Relationship Management: The fourth pillar of emotional intelligence” the magazine ‘The positive communication” Dr Alan Zimmermann says “Relationship Management is all about your interpersonal communication skills. It’s all about your ability to get the best out of others … your ability to inspire and influence them, your ability to communicate and build bonds with them, and your ability to help them change, grow, develop, and resolve conflict.
That’s a tall order, but fortunately those skills can be taught and learned. And to the extent you master those skills, the more success you’ll have in your relationships … at work with your employees, coworkers, teammates, and customers … and at home with your spouse, children, friends, and family.”
In the current working environment, the role of relationship cannot be underplayed. In every family, in every organization, the role of each individual needs to be acknowledged, recognized, appreciated, articulated, and celebrated. However, every individual being a different aspirational entity, every individual is working with an entirely different thought architecture and thought culture, to communicate with them, to negotiate with them, to work with them, calls for a deep understanding of the profile of those individuals. One cannot, especially the leaders should not shut their eyes and ears to the emotions of those people, since emotions play a very impactful role in structuring, positioning, culturing, navigating, sustaining, and developing the relationships. This could be true – both for the employees or customers of an organization, as much as it applies to the members of the family. The fundamentals remain the same though the geography and context could bring some differences.
1. ACQUISITION OF RELATIONSHIP
Relationships are usually acquired or built based on several criteria – emotional needs, professional needs, usefulness and utility, trust, unconditional love, loyalty, and comfort levels among people. However, not all relationships fall under the same category and the radius of relationships might vary alongside its circumference depending on strategic levels of operation. Relationships are consciously acquired and built, while some others fall in place either accidentally or due to circumstantial impacts. The levels of operation can broadly be classified into three categories- - the needs, the desirables, and the luxuries. These classifications might vary from one individual to other, sometimes with continuous possibilities of reshuffling the members among these circles. It is said " Good relationships are no accident. They are the work of joy.”
2. CULTIVATING THE RELATIONSHIP
Acquiring a relationship may not be indeed a difficult task. But cultivating the relationship to a fruitful end is very critical. It calls for sustained efforts from both ends. The base line for cultivating a relationship is trust. In the absence of trust, the foundation of the relationship becomes quite fragile and falls upside down sooner than later. “Trust is like love. Both parties must feel it before it really exists” says Simon Sinek. Proverbially it is said that trust begets trust. It is a positive force that bridges people and enhances the language of loyalty among them. Building trust is possible only among truthful relationships. Being truthful to one another in terms of policies, practices and perceptions helps in a higher level of understanding that enhances relationship through the touchstones of loyalty, and hence truth. Cultivating relationships calls for patience as well as empathy. Relationships are not delivered as packages through courier agencies, but the gateways of patience and empathy help to invite relationships at the doors of purposeful relationships. Most professions demand a lot of attention to cultivating relationships – in education, in medicine, in business, in marketing and in politics. “The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands” says Alexandra Penney.
3. NAVIGATING THE RELATIONSHIP
Navigating a relationship is indeed like steering a boat both in smooth waters as well as the rough ones. It calls for a deep understanding of the social climate as well as the personal choices of the people who are involved in sustaining the relationships. Oftentimes, good relationships are drowned because of poor navigational skills. Display of ego, urge to dominate, absence of equity and equality, lack of emotional skills, excessive pressure and forced decision making, poor communication skills, misuse and abuse of trust are some of the indicators that hinder navigating good relationships. It is said that “"No relationship is all sunshine, but two people can share one umbrella and survive the storm together." It is important to acknowledge that in all relationships, be it professional or personal, there are bound to be roadblocks, speed-breakers, and potholes on the roads ahead. And this acknowledgement of the challenges should help the parties concerned to express a deep sense of appreciation to the efforts made by others to forge ahead with optimism, conviction, and positive intent.
4. Sustaining the Relationship
“You have been knowing me for so long, but still, you don’t understand me completely”. Have you heard this statement from any of the relationships that you have been engaged with? I am sure you should have. Sustaining a relationship calls for some specific skills – willingness to listen, willingness to acknowledge and respect, willingness to set and accept boundaries and willingness to give the freedom. Over a period, every relationship suffers from the problem of familiarity. The familiarity makes people to take others for granted and to take decisions on behalf of others even if one might know that it may not be acceptable. In some cases, familiarity lets people to play with the emotions of others or consider others’ emotions as too insignificant and hence be contemptuous. “Assumptions are termites of the relationships’ says Henry Wheeler. The importance of listening to others, especially with the emotions of others is very important in sustaining relationships. This is true both in personal and professional relationships. Oftentimes many leaders fail because of their unwillingness to listen to their colleagues, even on occasions when conflicts exist. “We cannot control a relationship. We can only contribute to a relationship. All relationships, business or personal, are an opportunity to serve another human being.” Says Simon Sinek.
5. EVALUATING THE RELATIONSHIP
It is important to periodically reflect and evaluate the quality and dynamics of the relationship. In several cases, a long-drawn silence, absence of adequate engagement, the personal and professional challenges of any of the members, the trauma or depression caused by certain domestic or social events might lead one to dissociate or to keep away from the relationship. This might not really be an outcome of any conflict among the concerned but be a consequence of certain external considerations. Hence reflection and evaluation might be necessary to avoid presumptions or misunderstanding. “The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are” says Stephen Covery. It is necessary to note that no two people have either the same or similar thought architecture, emotional profile, ideology, or goals. The pursuit of this individuality should not be roadblock to sustain and navigate the relationships. The words of Polonius to his son as conveyed by Shakespeare in Hamlet “"Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment." Is indeed worth considering. Despite all intimacies in a good relationship, it is equally important to keep one’s personal identity and space. Says R.W. Emerson "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
Relationship Management is an important skill in a dynamic society which largely grows through social constructivism.