Recently I have been thinking about relationships. Relationships in the context of my work. Like what kind of cheese I will have with my wine? The longer I sat and thought about this whole idea, halfway through the bottle, the more similarities I discovered that there were between my marriage, and the relationships that I develop with our clients on a professional level. Now, there are obvious differences, and I’m sure I need not explain those to you…..but the similarities are probably what makes working with our clients easy and rewarding. So, this week’s question is……if I treat every client relationship , with the same amount of dignity and respect, as I do my own personal relationships……would the experience and outcome always be positive? I’m a relationship guy. Always have been. I mean let’s face it…….they are what make the world go around. At any given moment, on any given day, we are interacting with someone! Some are great experiences….some not so great! The trick is to make each encounter work for you in some way, shape or form. Learn from it. Grow from it. We all know that relationships require work. Some of us are only discovering this after many failed partnerships. We’re a little slower than the average Joe! (no offence Joe!) Ya know what they say though…..it’s not the destination that matters…..it’s the journey there! Now that I’ve got this whole “love relationship” stuff all worked out……(for the most part)…..I can apply some of the same strategies to my client relationships. Doctor Phil would soooo appreciate this…….. First word of advice….. You have to love what you do….with a passion!!! We all know what happens when love and passion leave a relationship! So I look at what works for me in my partnership at home. I’ve learned to be a good listener. To “hear between the lines”, looking for subtle hints or information about wants, needs, likes/dislikes etc. I acknowledge that I’ve heard them, because EVERYBODY wants to be heard. TRUST! I think that once the client trusts me, and can appreciate that I know exactly what I’m doing…….a tight partnership develops. If you keep them abreast of what is happening and what is going to happen, their anxieties melt away! Imagine if you took off for a couple days without telling your wife/husband where you were and what you were doing?!?!?!? Ohhhhh the doghouse is not the most comfortable place to sleep! Consideration and compromise………both very tricky when there are budgets to follow, and tastes to appeal to. When a client has a particular desire, it can’t always happen the way they want it to. So here is where compromise comes in handy. If your communication ability is intact….there should be a happy ending. The customer is happy, and I get to do my job within the budget, and by-law restrictions. I like the fact that I develop relationships with my clients that allow them to feel free to ask questions, give input, accept feedback and tell me when there is something that they are not pleased by. But by far, the best part of my job is the part where we stand in their gorgeous outdoor living space, and toast it with a glass of merlot. So back to the original question…….I would not be able to sleep at night if the outcomes and experiences I had on a daily basis were negative. Like a marriage,….I work at it!!! The alternative? ……… Keep one eye open while I sleep.