By Brian Mitchell

Relationships, personal and professional, are the fabric to the canvas of our lives. Relationships obviously fulfill us through family bonds and close friendships. In fact, I’d bet most people would value their personal relationships higher than any material or monetary asset. Our love for those closest to us transcends everything else and the cornerstones of those important relationships include mutual trust and reciprocity. We all inherently know that we can count on the other person and they care about our happiness and success, and they’re willing to help us if and when needed. It’s an awesome part of our lives. It’s understood.

In the professional world, trusting, reciprocal relationships certainly happen but not at the same level. Of course we don’t love our paper supplies vendor or an infrequent client like we love our spouse or child, but the tenants of a productive business relationship should remain the same. Trust and reciprocity requires full participation from whichever parties are involved or it simply doesn’t work. Beating up a vendor on pricing and expecting exceptional service isn’t sustainable. Charging too much for inferior service isn’t sustainable. Manipulating credit for your co- workers results or demonstrating minimalist efforts vs. your co-workers striving efforts doesn’t work. You can’t take advantage and expect a relationship. I believe a beautiful correlation exists whereby the most selfish thing you can do for yourself is to be unselfish. When you sincerely take into account other peoples’ business interests, it comes back to you with indirect dividends: you retain clients despite competition, you get recommended, your colleagues will hire you or want to work for you, your reputation as a trustworthy business advocate precedes you.

Listen to and perform for others, do favors for people without a desired payback, take care of people and you’ll be amazed at how it takes care of you.