It’s 8:00pm on a friday night. Your beer is cold and refreshing as you enjoy winding down with some buddies after a long week in the office.
The bar door opens and a loud goofy looking character makes his way in. He begins chatting loudly to the group next to you, making it hard for you to continue to chat.
Noticing that he’s getting lot’s of laughs you try and avoid the noise and make your way to the bar for another drink.
As your beer is being poured, you notice the laughing escalating. “Two pints please” you turn to see that the loud goof is ordering next to you. “Oh hey man, I’m Pete” he says with a warm smile, and within seconds you feel your initial impression begin to fade.
I bet you’ve had a friend who got along with everyone. Someone who was able to make everyone in room laugh. Maybe they make you cringe from a distance, but when you talk to them face to face they are warm and welcoming.
What is it that Makes Some People so Universally Likeable?
You may have noticed that many people like Pete are not always intellectual scholars. This is because often great social skills can be a product of a low stress lifestyle with minimal responsibilities.
Wait up! that’s a huge generalisation to make, but let’s think: if you don’t have much responsibility, you don’t have much stress, therefore you can be more carefree and relaxed in your everyday life and your social interactions with others.
Assuming that you do have responsibility and that you are exposed to stress how to we bring our best foot forward when socialising, networking and negotiating with others. First let’s look at why we need be aware of how we relate to others.
Relationships of Clean-Tech
In the world of clean-tech much of the business relationships that are formed are from business to business (B2B). Its very different to that of business to customer (B2C). People skills are so important for managing B2B relationships because the size of purchase is generally much greater than that of B2C sales.
The Bigger the Prize the Larger the Risk.
So having the right attitudes in negotiation can have a huge impact on your clean-tech business.
Whether you like it or not your people skills and how you present yourself socially will play a large role in the negotiating process. If you come off as unfriendly, unlikable or not very accommodating you will end up losing contracts, getting bad deals and sabotaging your own chances of success. With these dealings the focus must be on negotiating to achieve positive outcomes for both parties and to help each other achieve.
If you are able to create business relationships that aim to achieve both parties goals then you can expect to thrive. When two parties are working together on a project the game is moved from working in competition and comprise to working in unison. Here are some top tips for creating genuine and lasting business relationships.
#1 Think Win-Win
This is a tip that was popularised by the great Steven Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, [highly recommended for further study!]. It is the idea of thinking in terms of cooperation not competition. Working together to achieve more than would be achieved by the sum of the individual inputs.
Thinking Win-Win avoids the common notion that in order for one party to win then the other must lose.
This is known as a zero sum game where only one party gets what they desire. Instead Win-Win relationships are those which benefit both parties and will lead you to success business relationships if you choose change your negotiating paradigm.
#2 Think First to Help Others, Before Asking for Help
Whenever you need something from someone or you need cooperation from another person, think first how you can help them before you request their help. Everyone has their own agenda. We all have problems and need help for something. Rather than being predictable and first requesting help or cooperation think;
Can you solve a problem for them?
If you can do this, it will inspire them to want to help you rather than them feeling obliged or even forced into helping you. The difference will show in their ability to be creative when they genuinely want to help you because you gave them reason to.
Give first before asking for anything in return.
#3 Get Them Laughing
This one is simple. People like to laugh and because of this humour is a great way to build rapport with a person. Don’t take yourself to seriously and be prepared to show a lighter side during negotiation.
#4 Remain Relaxed and at Ease around Others
Ever noticed when you are around someone like Pete, that their presence helps you to relax? Being around relaxed people makes you relaxed. This is because we transfer they way we feel to others by our mirror neurones in our brains reading non-verbal cues (but thats way outside the scope of this post).
Be at ease, and you’ll make the other person at ease. If you are nervous, take a deep breath and focus on making the other person feel comfortable.
#5 Be Honest and Open
People respond much better when you put your cards on the table and open up to them. In saying that don’t share anything and everything, keep it positive and related.
#6 Disagree with Ideas Not People
If you must disagree with someone else you must do so without making them feel defensive. Make sure to disagree with the idea and explain rational behind your disagreement.
Always aim to present your ideas without triggering a defensive or attacking response.
#7 Be Positive and Optimistic
No one prefers negativity over positivity. People tend to like others that are upbeat and positive, so make an effort to be positive. You are not going to have a positive outcome in a negotiation by being pessimistic and cynical.
#8 Be a Good Listener
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
Another great influence from Steven Covey. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. “Listen more than you speak” is generally what we are told. But few people genuinely use this advice. In my own experience the more you listen with the intent to understand the more you can build trust with another person. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to make them feel truly understood.
So there it is.
8 Tips to building great business relationships. All of business requires a web of relationships in order to operate. Dealings with suppliers, manufacturing, delivery and business professions just to name a few. It is even more significant in the clean-tech sector as B2B relationships involve that larger degree of care.
You are going to have to accept that these relationships exist and bring your best foot forward when interacting, negotiating and cooperating with others.
The biggest thing to remember when dealing with others if to put yourself in their shoes.
People make decisions for reasons. They may not be your reasons but they do have reasons behind why they decide or say what they do. The more understanding you can have to those reasons, the more you can offer in return. When you offer personalised help in return you then inspire cooperation and agreement, rather than force it or demand it. The net result is; you can grow thriving relationships that will strengthen over time.
Listen to understand, seek to help first before asking, and most of all: aim to cooperate!