4 Interchangeable Principles Applicable Across Business and Personal Relationships

Photo Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative via Compfight cc

by Michele Morrissey

In trainings and workshops, I often ask the question, “What is your definition of a customer or client?” Popular responses often include, “Anyone who buys from you,” or “Anyone you provide service to.” I offer an expanded definition. My definition goes something like this, “Anyone whose behavior you seek to influence or modify in order to create desired or repeated response.” Although I am not suggesting we think of our spouses, significant others, and friends as literal customers, I am suggesting that if we want to hold on to relationships that supply emotional or monetary value, there are similar principles that can be applied in both contexts.

1. Be a thoughtful, empathetic listener. On average, we speak 135-175 words a minute. We can listen 400-500 words per minute. The highest of four levels of listening is empathetic listening. Here, you learn everything you need to know. However, it takes work. You must suspend judgments and assumptions and make an effortful attempt to see the other’s point of view. Here in a personal relationship, you communicate the listener’s sense of value to you by suspending time and letting them know their ideas, needs, wants opinions, are of utmost importance. Even if you know you are right, be willing to engage in conversation that reflects you are discovering truth together. We are a limited in understanding and present with complex presumptions and biases. In business, this is where we learn how we can provide a unique and prescriptive value as we gain the insight necessary to provide value to our customers and clients. Even if you are the expert, there is no need to always present as, “the enlightened one.”

2. Show respect and appreciation. Ahhhh…. The allure and enchantment of courtship, putting our best face forward. In an article in Psychology Today by Duana C. Welch, Ph D., kindness and respect were cited as significant indicators and predictors of successful relationships. Similarly, in Your Brain at Work, David Rock discusses the fact that oxytocin is released as we experience expressions of respect and appreciation. I thought about the fact that men often communicate a need to be respected, while women express needs for appreciation. Who knew that there was sex appeal in, “Thank you?” In a business context, customers love to feel valued as we are value their time and are attentive to their needs as fervent problem solvers. In business and personal relationships, we want to create those attachments that make people, experience the best of who we are, happy to be in our presence, want to come back again and again.

3. “…Never fail to astonish the customer.” Macy’s Motto… “Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer.” While this may be a tall order in personal relationships, part of our unique make-up as social creatures is our ability to anticipate and predict the needs of others. This is a hallmark in delivering excellent service. While we cannot be all things to everyone, we can provide that something extra and deliver unexpected experiences laced with delight. It’s literally the unanticipated rewards that create attachment.

4. When it goes wrong, restore a sense of fairness. What happens when we are not as omniscient as the edict of Macy’s motto? When it goes wrong, don’t be defensive, be reflective. Fairness indicates social connection and communicates a sense of value and respect. We are wired to trust. Transparency is a priceless part of the trust equation. Just saying, “I messed up,” may not provide a ready repair when a breach or disappointment has occurred, but providing a fair solution with thoughtful analysis may be what motivates one to give it one more shot.

Who do you need to get others “hooked on you?” Command the atmosphere, connect, serve, and be memorable!

Rock, D. (2009). Your brain at work: Strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus, and working smarter all day long. New York: Harper Business.

The Two Qualities Everyone Needs in a Partner. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-proof/201412/the-two-qualities-everyone-needs-in-partner


Michele Gilliam MorrisseyMichele Gilliam Morrissey, M.A. CCC-SLP was born, raised, and currently lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Michele is a 1992 graduate of Hampton University with a Bachelor of Art degree in Communication Disorders and a 1995 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Master of Art degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She is also a certified P-ESL Certified Accent Modification Instructor and Certified Tourism Ambassador.
Michele is known for practical application of her knowledge of communication science as it relates to workplace and personal performance. She has been a recurring participant of the “Does Image Matter?” panel series hosted by Bmorenews. Michele also enjoys her seat as the weekly co-host of The Conversation with Klarque and Michele, on the Survival Radio Network (over 850,000 downloads), which stands in the top 5% of Blog Talk Radio’s 16,000 shows. She is a keynote speaker and conducts trainings in state and federal agencies and to community college administrators. Additionally, Michele provided coaching to 2012 Congressional Black Caucus Forum speakers and for the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. She’s worked with graduate level students to further develop cross-cultural competence in communicating with inner-city youth. She finds her work to be gratifying in knowing that by imparting a little information, she can be a catalyst for growth in trainees’ personal and professional lives.

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5 Replies to “4 Interchangeable Principles Applicable Across Business and Personal Relationships”

  1. Karima Mariama-Arthur

    Fantastic article Michelle! I love your timely reminder that what works in personal relationship is no different in a business context. I think people often forget this, which has tremendous consequences.

    Looking forward to more of your amazing work!



    1. Michele

      Thank you so much KMA!

    2. Michele

      Thank you so KMA!

  2. KrisWithaK

    What a wonderful list! I like 3 and 4 a lot; they go hand in hand to make a real relationship – rather than a transaction.

    Thanks for the thought provoking read!


    1. Michele

      Thank you so much for your feedback K!:-)

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