Bywater Consulting Group, LLC
Liz Bywater, PhD

February 2008

Five Things You Can Do Today to
Improve Your Business Relationships

Hi, I'm Claire. (Big warm smile.) If you have any questions or if I can help you with anything at all, please let me know. My job is family.

These were the first words I heard upon entering the waiting area of the Intensive Care Unit earlier this month. I had gone there to visit a family member. As I arrived at the front desk, I was greeted by Claire, the ICU concierge. Claire's job was to welcome visitors to the ICU, answer their (non-medical) questions and help them feel more comfortable. By all appearances, she didn't actually do all that much. No matter. Her presence and her genuine desire to help made an otherwise overwhelming experience just a little bit easier to handle.

It doesn't take much to make a difference. Greeting a colleague as you make your way down the hall. Sending a hand written thank you note. Taking a client's call after hours from time to time. Such small gestures can have a profound impact on your relationships with friends and family, coworkers and clients.

It's not mere cliché to say that business is all about relationships. It's a fact. Successful business is built on strong connections between individuals, teams and organizations. Establishing a foundation of mutual respect, trust and generosity is essential if we are to truly add value in our business relationships.

You may be one of the fortunate few who build relationships — whether business or personal — easily and naturally. If so, more power to you. If not, take heart. You're in very good company. Developing and maintaining strong business relationships takes planning, reflection and practice. Here are a few guidelines to help you stay on track:

Be honest. Be truthful and straightforward at every turn. Of course, this means you will sometimes have to offer negative feedback. It won't always be easy. Nevertheless, candor in your business dealings is simply non-negotiable.

Be flexible. Whether you're dealing with a direct report, a colleague or a client, find ways to honor reasonable requests for latitude and accommodation.

Be gracious. Use kindness and compassion in your business dealings even when the stakes are high. It's not only the right thing to do, it's also smart business.

Be interested. Ask your business associates how things are going. Without prying, convey your interest in their lives. Your genuine interest in others will help promote trust, communication and collaboration – all of which are vital for effective working relationships.

Be generous. Freely offer your time, attention and expertise. Don't worry that others will take advantage of your munificence. More often than not, you will reap great rewards for your unbegrudging generosity.

In the Press

We are pleased to provide you with links to our most recent articles and citations. As always, we welcome your comments and inquiries.

If Businesses Could Make Just One Improvement in 2008
Society for Advancement of Consulting


Before You Change Jobs, Learn About Yourself
CourierPost Online


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Best personal regards,

Liz Bywater, PhD

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Bywater Consulting Group, LLC
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