Maintaining relationships can be hard work, and we all have our little pet excuses that pop up when we may not be in the mood to put in the effort on a given day. The easiest excuse? I need to do this just right to accomplish my goal, otherwise it won’t be worth the effort. But… when was the last time someone interacted with you “perfectly?” What would that even look like? The truth is that “real trumps perfect every time,” because it’s the only consistent way to create trust. Period.
Being real also means putting effort into maintaining the relationship by making regular contact, treating the other person with respect, and just being human. So make the effort! Even if you don’t do it perfectly – it’s a huge factor in maintaining healthy relationships.
Work Those Relationship Muscles!
You’ve heard me say that relationships are like muscle tissue. They require work to maintain, and it’s much easier to keep up when you make that work a consistent part of your day-to-day life. However, it’s often the small, simple things that make a difference, rather than the big, flashy gestures. It’s all about showing the other person that you care, that you’re thinking of them, and that you’re not just in it for your own gain. Here are four relationship work-out moves you should be practicing every day to stay in shape:
- Start by staying in touch. This is much easier to do if you look for reasons to stay in touch ahead of time, but you don’t have to be perfect. Letting someone know that you’re thinking about them never goes out of style.
- Be consistent and reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. If you like to reach out at regular intervals, don’t leave someone hanging when they’re expecting to hear from you.
- Look for common ground! Whether you’re dealing with a customer, colleague, or friend, social media gives you the tools to find commonalities easily. Common ground often provides the perfect excuse to get in touch and gives you something to chat about when you do.
- Don’t Stress It. It’s easy to forget sometimes that perfect is impossible, and trying to be perfect chews up a ton of time that could be used to maintain the relationship in a more natural way. It’s good to think before you speak, but you don’t want to spend so much time thinking that you wind up saying nothing at all.
Be Human in the Workplace, Too
To me, being real is the right move when maintaining all relationships, but you’ll find plenty of people in customer service who are very focused on being perfect. In this case, perfect often means following company policy to the letter, even when “breaking the rules” in a very minor way would lead to a better outcome for everyone involved. If something goes wrong and there’s an easy, fair fix waiting right there, why not take it? If you lead a customer service team, why not let your employees put their training to work in dynamic situations? Rules, Format, and Procedures ARE important, BUT… so important to Empower your Employees to look beyond.
No matter what type of relationship you’re working to maintain, treat people with respect, be consistent, do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it, and just be human. If you take care of the basics, you don’t need to worry about being perfect.