By Brian Mitchell, CEO & Managing Partner

I had a former boss who used to say, “Persuasion is getting other people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Persuasion is part of salesmanship but the concept always struck me as manipulative, self-serving, and generally a one-sided transactional thought process only based on the short term. Maybe you close a deal, but do you earn a relationship? If your aim over the long-term is to ‘win relationships and influence people’ then follow these basic principles:

Basic Philosophy

An old Japanese proverb says, “If he works for you, you work for him.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a boss and subordinate, co-workers, industry colleagues or friendships in general; it’s about reciprocity. And when you demonstrate this philosophical principle, you’ll become known as a leader. All of which helps you.

Value Exchange 

Takers dry up the support of givers. If you only call someone when you need something, you are a taker. If you are unresponsive to someone requesting your help, you are not a giver and are inherently a taker. Even those most generous with their time ultimately shun the taker, forcing the taker into perpetual new building mode because they’ve worn out their welcome elsewhere. Unselfish givers on the other hand have indirectly built relationship equity that lasts a lifetime. It feels good to support others and it helps you.

Open Closed Doors

Introduce people without an expectation of a return. Bring some intel or unique insights to a colleague that aids them and their situation. Provide a conduit between colleagues and your colleagues become your friends. Friends go out of their way to be helpful to one another, and so goes the wheel of positivity. Again, supporting others feels right and it directly brings benefit to you.

Don’t Transact

In one form or another, we are all in sales. We sell solutions, ideas, and opinions in both our personal and professional environments, but there is no such thing as closing a relationship. You can sign a deal or win a debate or convince someone of your point of view, but you can’t close a human being. Human beings value treatment as much as, if not more than, results. When you hard-close or bulldog your way to a transactional result in your favor, you frequently win the battle but lose the war because the other people involved don’t want to support you in the future. I’m not suggesting a lack of assertiveness to ensure you’re being heard and sometimes other people are so absurd you need to walk, but listen first to be understood later. Treat people with care and you’ll find an ongoing level of reception… which again, is best for you.

You can call all of this karma, but it’s really just the law of attraction – professionalism begets professionalism, kindness earns kindness, favors come full circle with indirect dividends. So of course focus on your vocation first and maintain prioritized efficiencies in your activities, but if you want to build quality support and true relationships for years to come then go out of your way to demonstrate support for co-workers, industry acquaintances, and friends today. It pays.