Growing solid relationships with people from all walks of life is one of the benefits of working in anything business related. If affords you the opportunity to get to know people that may not otherwise be in your life.
Interestingly, you can get close and connect to anyone when completing a project or working to achieve goals together and to an extent you have to. A lot of my clients have been comfortable opening up to me about all facets of their lives. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with who they are and what they aspire to be when working together.
These types of connections do not expire and no matter how much time goes by, people I have worked with in the past will reach out again to do projects again since the trust and connection was established earlier so we catch up then pick up where we left off and get to work together.
Some of the interpersonal traits I use working with clients that has helped me to achieve long term relationships with clients and other business professionals (that become trusted friends) include:
1. ACTIVE LISTENING
Being a good listener is one of the best skills to develop in life and shows marks of maturity. Asking questions or paraphrasing what someone has said back to them shows respect and engagement.
I personally get annoyed and think it is disrespectful if someone expects you to listen to them then cut you off when they get excited with their next bit. I am guilty of it myself still sometimes but I am conscious of it and have been working on stopping it altogether.
2. BUILDING INITIAL RAPPORT
When you are getting to know someone new, it is good to ask insightful questions to make them feel comfortable opening up to you. My strategy is always to learn something new based on their life experience and expertise. Something I am genuinely curious about. Everyone knows something you don't, figure out what it is.
If you are learning a lot about the person you are working with and they give you an opportunity to connect and bond, take it. Even if the business goes sour the relationship can survive if you set it up right and you can try something else together again in the future.
3. POLITELY CHALLENGE WHAT YOU DISAGREE WITH
Challenging someone's point of view forces their perspective to expand. You don't have to agree with everything the other person wants to do in a project or sale. Articulating your rationale with examples and metaphors helps you to communicate your point.
Having direct conversations may initially make the other party a little nervous or defensive but those situations often lead to respect forming. I have gotten professional opportunities from high level executives that chose me because they thought I would challenge them and keep it real.
Not everyone will appreciate a straight up honest approach to communicating but those are not the people I want to work with. When you lay it all out on the table you can keep better tabs of where things stand throughout your time working together and in your relationship afterwards.