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John C Erdman
Motivational Speaker and Author
Bothell, Washington
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Developing Successful Business Relationships

Successful business is built on solid, positive relationships with everyone you contact. This means your family, your friends, your co-workers, your boss, the neighbors and the person who just stops you on the street to ask for the time.
Written Jun 02, 2009, read 8135 times since then.


Successful business is built on solid, positive relationships with everyone you contact.  This means not only your family and friends, but also your co-workers, your boss, the neighbors and the person who just stops you on the street to ask for the time.

Have you ever wondered why relationships with other people are so difficult at times? Every time we come into contact with another person we are really dealing with the three different personalities:

  • Who they think they are.
  • Who they really are.
  • Who they become by dealing with us.

We all have masks we wear in different situations and we assume the identity of the mask.  We can call this identity our "perceived truth", it is who we think we are, but deep down inside us is who we really are.  Sometimes it is so well buried we don't even know who the person really is.

We become a changed identity because of our dealings with someone else.  This change can be very slight or very large depending on the contact.  Also you can be changed from a positive person into a negative person or negative person into a positive person by a positive or negative contact.

The Four Ways of Judgment

There are four ways in which we judge and are judged by other people.  These four ways also can produce positive or negative results.  Because we are reading people every time we are in contact with them, we assume that we can tell all about a person just by looking at and listening to them.  We are not always correct in our assumptions and most of the times feel offended if someone judges us incorrectly.  Yet these four values are used by everybody, even though we know they are not just or fair. 

The four ways are:

  1. How we (or they) look
  2. What we (or they) say
  3. How we (or they) say it
  4. How we (or they) treat people

How we (or they) look.  In the world of business we make certain assumptions of who a person is by the way they are dressed and by the way they carry themselves.  A person who is dressed for success and walks with an air of confidence is automatically believed to be successful and someone we can trust for their abilities.  Likewise we assume someone not dressed well or carries an air of nervousness is someone we cannot trust.

What we (or they) say.  Your vocabulary tells other people how to assume your education level and your class level.  People with higher education or a higher class upbringing usually have a better or richer vocabulary.  One way to increase your vocabulary is to use a list of new words until you have installed them in your mind and can use them easily.

How we (or they) say it.  Your voice inflection says different things for the same words.  People make the assumption of what you are saying based on the inflection in your voice.  If you are going to really advance your career you will have to do something probably 95% of all people never do.  That is to deliberately train yourself on how to use your voice more effectively.  In order to train your voice use a cassette recorder and practice, practice, practice.

How we (or they) treat people.  By the use of human relation concepts we can influence those around us.  We make certain assumptions about people by watching how they treat those around them.  The following is a list of five basic human relation concepts we can use to increase the influence we have with people and help others feel good about themselves.

Human Relations Concepts List

  • Use the "Golden Rule"
  • Smile
  • Make the other person feel important
  • Be a good listener
  • Motivate people in terms of their interests, benefits and satisfaction

A Closer Look at the Human Relation Concepts

Use the Golden Rule

Probably the most often talked about and least used human relation concept is the "Golden Rule".  "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you."  In other words treat everyone as a special person.  There are approximately 5 billion people on this earth and no two are alike.  Everyone is unique and each has an interesting story to tell if you are willing to listen.


A very simple human relation concept that will help you in almost any situation is a smile.  Smiling is easy to do and does not cost you anything to give away.  Starting today, challenge yourself to smile and say "hello" first to each person you meet.  As you walk down the street, smile at everyone and watch how many people smile back at you.  You will feel good about yourself and will give other people an opportunity to share the feeling.

When you talk on the phone, smile; it changes the muscles in the face and throat, people will hear the smile coming through the phone.  Put a small mirror behind your phone with a label on it saying, "Would I want to talk to someone who looks like this?"  When your answer is "yes", you can answer the call or make your call.

Make the other person feel important

Emerson said, "Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him."  William James, the father of modern American psychology, stated, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."  If we know each person can indeed teach us something and they also have a need to be appreciated, we can certainly make them feel important by showing them we feel this way.  To help you remember this, see a sign hanging around everyone neck saying, "Make me feel important!"

Most people see other people for their weaknesses instead of their strengths.  Good human relations demand we look at others' strengths and then let them know we see those qualities.  Sometimes we are the only ones who see these qualities in them.  They may be so use to hearing that they are too slow, too old, too young, too dumb, only a male, only a female, etc. that they have indeed become these things.  When we let others know we expect them to live and work up to their potentials, they will do everything in their power to do so. 

Be a Good Listener

Listening skills will help you improve your conversations and your relationships.  Most people hear what the other person is saying without really listening.  To uncover what people want, spend less time talking and more time listening.  The best actors and the most effective salespeople traditionally have not been great talkers; they have been good listeners.

"When you listen your way in, you don't have to talk your way out."

Listening is really an indication of interest in the person.  It takes real interest to listen effectively despite distractions such as time pressure, noise, and language barriers.  Surprisingly, one of the most important skills for good listening is asking questionsAsking questions shows your interest in the person and forces you to listen carefully because you cannot ask good questions if you are not listening.  Asking questions also keeps you from talking too much and helps you confirm what the person has said.  You can actually "feel" when you are doing a good job of listening.

Motivate people in terms of their interests, benefits and satisfaction

The road to a person's heart is to talk to them about the things they treasure the most.  Probably the best way to remember this is the W I2 F M Formula: "What's in it for me?"

From now on see the letters W I2 F M branded on the other person's forehead.  These letters can also stand for the call letters of the world's largest radio station, because everyone is always listening to it.  Always think of these letters and what they stand for before you begin talking.  You will be reaching the other person's emotional drives and these are the drives that motivate all people.

By following the concepts you will be building successful business relationships that will raise your career to the next level. 


Learn more about the author, John C Erdman.

Comment on this article

  • Creative Clarity Coach 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Jennifer Manlowe
    Posted by Jennifer Manlowe, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Jun 02, 2009

    John, I so appreciate your tips and the systematic way you laid it all out. You're a writer who reaches all ages -- destined to be (and perhaps already are) a success.

    As a writing coach and a published author, I work very hard to speak to the intelligent 9th grader. This helps me stay clear and work to connect, not impress.

    As a former academic in psychology, philosophy & comparative religions, I was trained to be competitive in speech and argumentative in style -- something some of my men friends tell me is the way they were also socialized to relate to others. Too often such a style leaves one feeling righteous, obnoxious and alone.

    Anyway, all these good insights apply to all my relationships and I'm very grateful for them.

    As for a book that helps entrepreneurs keep growing in your particular philosophy, check out C.J. Hayden's, Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches

  • Motivational Speaker and Author 
Bothell, Washington 
John C Erdman
    Posted by John C Erdman, Bothell, Washington | Jun 02, 2009

    Thanks for your kind comments. I have just finished my new book - "The C.A.R.E. to Win Program" it is a personal and leadership development workshop in a 60 plus page book. I am doing the final review and check as we speak - I hope to have it ready sometime next week. Enthusiastically, John

  • Creative Clarity Coach 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Jennifer Manlowe
    Posted by Jennifer Manlowe, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Jun 03, 2009

    So glad to hear this, John! If you ever need a book publisher/promoter, I can help (as you probably know).


  • Marketing, Promotions & Printed Promo Items 
Kirkland, Washington 
Michele Edwards
    Posted by Michele Edwards, Kirkland, Washington | Jun 03, 2009

    Your articles are always so timely to what I am thinking about or focusing on.

    I am printing this along with the other articles you've written so that I can place them in my Focus Book. Thanks so much for another great article!

  • Studio Owner/Photographer & Designer 
Bellevue, Washington 
Jack  Young
    Posted by Jack Young, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 05, 2009

    'W 12 FM', great tip, John. Of course, the hard thing is to smile at strangers on the street...

  • Personal Life Coach 
Kent, Washington 
Anthony  Bowman
    Posted by Anthony Bowman, Kent, Washington | Jun 05, 2009

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the fantastic article. Myself, I find it easy to smile and say hi to others especially if eye contact is made. I do get some suprised looks at times, but I just keep walking and smiling.

    Again, thanks for the great article.

    Anthony Bowman

  • Energetic Speaking Coach for Entrepreneurs & NPOs 
Bellevue, Washington 
Pamela Ziemann
    Posted by Pamela Ziemann, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 05, 2009

    Thanks John, Love your Emerson quote, everyone I meet is in some way my superior. Gets my creative juices flowing sometimes, I can always find something if I look close enough.

    So important to think about voice. If we're really feeling the words, our voice naturally changes and is pleasant to listen to. If we're stuck in our head, it's more difficult.

    Thanks again John. Good Luck with your book!

  • Business strategy consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
E. Steve Kim
    Posted by E. Steve Kim, Seattle, Washington | Jun 05, 2009

    Outstanding practical guidance. Thanks John!

  • Hypnosis Change Agent / NLP 
Lynnwood, Washington 
Alan Anderson, C Ht
    Posted by Alan Anderson, C Ht, Lynnwood, Washington | Aug 31, 2009

    Great article John. The simple truths are often the most powerful and the least considered. Thanks for the reminders.