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relationshipsTwo Types of Relationships

We all know that relationships in the workplace are important. However, what we need to understand that there are two distinct and different types of relationships: Family relationships and business relationships. One delivers friendship, the other produces the goods; increases sales and enables productive working relationships.

Family Relationships…

The family relationship is centred on the family. We all have someone in the family who we may call the black sheep in the family. Psychologists will say that every family has pathology. So if you are worrying about someone in your family, the skeleton that you have in your cupboard, relax because everyone has one. You are in good company. What we find is because we have this person in the family who is not pulling their weight or whatever, they still stay your family member. You might be frustrated with them, you might have to support them but they stay your family member. So the relationship is centered on the family connection. Actions and results are secondary to this relationship and we can actually depict this in diagram of two concentric circles:

The relationship is the kernel in the centre and actions and results are secondary to that, which is all about the relationship irrespective of performing actions and results. This is the family relationship.

Business Relationships increase sales

A business relationship is however very different. It is the exact opposite. The actions and results that we deliver in business is what dictates and determines the relationship. So it is all about delivering. It is about actions and results which now become the kernel. So if we compare the two circles, the kernel of the business relationship is centred on actions and results and the relationship then emerges because we are delivering in that space.


So when we take a customer to a rugby match, we very definitely want to build a business relationship with the respective individual. However, what we are in reality doing, is building a family relationship at that moment in time.

When I asked this question in classrooms, many people will automatically say no it is a business relationship. Yes, that is indeed the intent, but the issue at hand is having fun and not delivering actions and results, so it’s all about the relationship at that point in time. While you are at the rugby you are unlikely to be talking about business. What you are doing is enjoying a moment in time with this individual and getting to know each other as people. You are building a family relationship. It is the relationship that is the kernel at that point in time. Of course you want to use that relationship for business purposes and so it becomes a foundation for going forward. At the rugby match you building a good friendship with the customer so that you can say to him/her that I don’t want to talk work right now, but may I phone your secretary next week to make an appointment to come see you. There is something I want to explore with you, but not now! “Would that be alright?”. “Absolutely, that would be great” is the likely answer. Finished – end of discussion on business – back to enjoying ourselves at the game. Always remember the age old principal of ‘time and place’.

So what are we doing here? We are building a solid family relationship at the game so that next week when we meet we can have an opportunity to demonstrate actions and results that can potentially solve his/her problems and challenges.

The family relationship skilfully built provides the platform to allow us the opportunity to show what we can do, and thereby build the business relationship on top of this friendly foundation. As you show relevant actions and results, the business relationship will go from strength to strength….and that is how we increase sales or improve productivity. Delivering actions and results is what it is all about.

In summary, we all want that business relationship (based on actions and results). To get it, we need to have the opportunity to show the client or the colleague what we can actually deliver. We won’t get an opportunity to show what we can deliver if we don’t first establish the family relationship.

We need that personal / interpersonal relationship which is the family relationship, so let’s get to know people in a friendly way, but that alone does not increase sales.

It’s all about is the business relationship… delivering, delivering, delivering. And that’s what builds a solid sustainable relationship going forward. Either with our client or with a colleague.