Volume 53, August 2005: Relationship Building

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2005 ISSN # 1545-8873

“To attain your own potential, be mindful of everyone else’s.” — Marc Ian Barasch rephrasing the Bodhisattva

“The best thing to do behind a friend’s back is to pat it.” — Ruth Brillhart

“The best way to forget your own problems is to help someone else solve theirs.” — Conventional Wisdom

“Getting people to like you is simply the other side of liking people.” — Mark Twain

“Human conversation is the most ancient and the easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change – personal change, community and organizational change, planetary change.” — Margaret Wheatley


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Leading as a “process facilitator” would lead.
  • Attending to both task and interpersonal dynamics.
  • Acquiring skills for intercultural and inter-group communication.
  • Developing a compassionate interest in others.
  • Depersonalizing fault.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

As a leader, you are in the “communication” business. Communication begins and ends with “relationship-building.” A successful communicator gains benefit from social interaction, and is able to harvest both emotional and intellectual information from communication. We have all, hopefully, been in the aura of a leader who made us feel special – as if we were vitally important. Here is magic and talent at work. Notice they attend first to the person, then to the task at hand. They have learned that greetings are important; partings are equally so. And their dialogue is laced with human interest. Hone your listening skills and shift the center of your attention to the other(s). Ask how they are – really. Understandmore deeply than you think you need to. The pay-off is revealing a “whole person” not a “role person” to the workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Employees are always bringing problems to my door. They are usually complaints, upsets, or something that angers them. Suggestions?”
Know what is expected of you as a listener. Dorothy Leeds (2000) suggests that you ask three questions:
  • Do you want me just to listen?
  • Do you want me to ask questions and interact with you?
  • Do you want me to give you advice?

This targets your listening, and better meets the needs of the associate. I also recommend that you ask them for creative solutions and how they will contribute to the resolution.

“I have trouble getting people to participate in meetings. I end up doing most, if not all, of the talking.”
Good meetings require design. The crafting of an agenda needs to incorporate principles that draw people out. Juanita Brown (2005) describes this as the World Cafe:
  • Set the context – Clarify the purpose and parameters of the conversation and its place in the larger environment in which it will happen.
  • Create hospitable space – Provide a welcoming, safe, life-serving environment.
  • Explore questions that matter – Invite collective attention to what’s important for the participants.
  • Encourage everyone’s contribution – Engage meaningful participation by each person, with true respect.
  • Cross-pollinate and connect diverse perspectives – Facilitate juicy diversity and equally juicy interconnectedness.
  • Listen together for patterns, insights, and deeper questions – Help coherent group insight emerge naturally from the play of individual perspectives and passions.
  • Harvest and share collective discoveries – Make the group’s collective intelligence visible to itself.
“Do we have to do warm-ups at every meeting?”
If you want to build relationships, yes. Something that brings people into the community (combine communication and unity). Craig and Patricia Neal of The Heartland Institute refer to this as Opening the Circle by “Stringing the Beads.”Who is present and accounted for? Each person may say something in response to a question. The Circle must also be Closed, perhaps with a Learning or a Commitment. These can be referred to as “Pearls.” Openers and Closings are the bookends of a meeting.
“Doesn’t all this human relations stuff must eat into our productive time?”
Hofner Saphiere studied 12 global business teams over 9 months, and found that “productive teams” (vs. non-productive ones):
  • Engaged in 2 1/2 times more productive behavior and 4 times more process behavior.
  • Communicated 53% more frequently.
  • Placed a higher value on social interaction.
  • Engaged in frequent informal conversation.
  • Felt understood and respected.
  • Expressed differences of opinion more frequently.
  • Disagreed in a depersonalized manner 50% more often.
  • In face-to-face meetings, spent significant time on relationship-building.
  • Used several communication media to balance affect and task.
  • Even in written communication, began and ended with relationship-building information.
  • Rotated leadership, in a process leadership manner.
  • Unanimously wanted to work together again.


CEO Refresher: Relationship Management: Relationship Management as a Corporate Capability.

Emily Post’s People Skills and Corporate Etiquette: Emily Post Corporate Civility Program.

Wharton program on building relationships that work: Open-Enrollment Programs.

Relationship-building competencies: Development Tips.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Keyzines related to the topic: Coaching, Meetings, Facilitative Leadership, Dialogue: Thinking Together, Building Community, and Convening People.

Free listing of Warm-ups and Openers: Warm-ups and Openers.

Networking and relationship building: The Importance of Networking and Relationship Building.



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