4 Ways to Build Close Relationships That Last

Every relationship has a give and a take. Try not to focus so much on the take. The best relationships are founded on the principle of giving something other than what you get.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #472

how to build lasting relationships

Today, we'll learn to build and maintain strong relationships by using their multidimensional nature. (And I'm not just talking about the fact that all of us are just three-dimensional tentacles on an 11th-dimensional monster with 7 billion brains). My friend Bernice still has a bit of a hero worship thing going on. We were in the mall a few weeks ago and who should we see but everybody’s favorite celebrity, Taylor Gaga Efron Pitt DeNiro Lawrence Sarandon! Bernice was beside herself. “I’ve been their fan for years! I want to be their best friend.” She ran right up to Taylor and proclaimed, “Taylor! I’m your biggest fan! Let’s have coffee!” You can imagine the result. It’s embarrassing just thinking about it.

We get into relationships because they’re all about give and take. There are things we want to get out of a relationship. But you can’t just say “I want cash,” or “I want your love,” or “appreciate me!” You need to build the relationship slowly, in a way that won’t invite rejection. Do that by giving first. And when you give, you’ll do best to give in a different way than you withdraw.

4 Ways to Build Close Relationships

  1. Make “deposits” to a relationship different from the withdrawals
  2. Come in sideways when directly doesn’t work
  3. Strengthen a partnership through complementary deposits
  4. Expect to get what you don’t expect

Let's dive deeper into each.

1. Make “deposits” to a relationship different from the withdrawals.

Let’s say you want to get really close and involved with Venture Capitalist Alex Drywall…as a business partner, of course. But everybody wants to do business with Alex. Any prospectus you send to the office gets returned by Gatekeeper Minion #9348. Approaching Alex along business dimensions just won’t work.

So how do you get the attention and stand out from the crowd? Learn more about Alex. A bit of digging reveals that Alex does community work, serving as the chairperson of your local Big Brothers / Big Sisters chapter. You just happen to be a member of the organization!

You can start building a relationship with Alex that way. Call Alex to discuss your experience as a Big Sibling, share your thoughts on the organization, and so on. You may find that calling Alex’s office about Big Brother / Big Sister business gets right through, bypassing Minion #9348 completely.

Once you get to know Alex socially and through community service, you can discuss business. You’ve invested in a strong social bond, which lets you now open up into a business discussion.

2. Come in sideways when directly doesn’t work.

Keith Ferrazzi, author of the excellent book on building your network Never Eat Alone, wanted to be an executive. But he was both young and rash. No matter how good he was, it would take him years to work his way up the partner track at Deloitte Consulting. Vying for a top job directly would have gotten him laughed out of the room. 

So Keith devoted his time, energy, and expertise into building relationships for Deloitte within his local business community. He also got his CEO to agree to dinners together every six weeks. When Deloitte decided they needed a new Chief Marketing Officer, Keith was put in charge of finding the candidate. During the search, he worked closely with the other senior management, shared his ideas for the challenges facing the new executive. He impressed them with his skills and ideas. When no perfect candidate could be found, he was chosen for the CMO position. Instead of working his way up, he demonstrated his desirability where his skills could be seen. 


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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