The Most Important Element in Relationships

I’ve now been in ministry for 37 years and have owned and operated a business for about half that time. I learned a long time ago that if one is not a people person he or she will not be successful in either ministry or the business world. Because of some books I’ve published I am sometimes asked to lead conferences for small church pastors. I always explain to them that everything in the smaller church depends on relationships. The same is true with businesses.

People want to do business with people they like and trust. You may have the best product or service in town, but if people don’t like you or don’t trust you they will do business with someone else.

I have been greatly influenced by the writings of leadership guru John Maxwell. Many of his books are in my library, and I regularly re-read them. In his book Winning With People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time he writes, “If you boil relationships down to the most important element, it’s always going to be trust – not leadership, value, partnership, or anything else. If you don’t have trust, your relationship is in trouble.” He then goes on to explain why this is the case.

Character matters. Being a person of your word matters. Being honest matters. Telling the truth matters. Living by the Golden Rule matters. Trust is not a quality that you can learn. It must be earned…every day. Trust can be lost in an instant and may take a lifetime to regain, if it is ever regained. Maxwell is right; without trust there can be no real relationship.

In both my personal and professional life there have been times when I’ve disappointed people. We are all human and make mistakes. Simply making a mistake doesn’t always cause people to stop trusting you. If you own your mistakes, apologize, and strive to make it right you can often regain other’s trust fairly quickly. However, if you make excuses, blame others for your mistake, and refuse to make it right you can expect people to stop trusting you.

Sometimes I go overboard trying to be honest with people. People will sometimes call me to have an auction for them, but when I go look at what they want to sell I realize it will not bring much at auction. At times, when I’ve tried to explain that to them, they have become angry with me thinking I didn’t appreciate their property. I try to explain that I just know what sells at auction in our area and what doesn’t. I would rather have them upset with me before the sale than have them upset afterwards when they receive a much smaller check than they anticipated. Some have thanked me for my honesty, and others have called in another auctioneer to have their sale and then got mad at him when their property didn’t bring much.

If you will maintain the trust in your relationships you will be successful in anything you do.  If you want to learn some other keys to successful relationships I encourage you to read Maxwell’s book. 

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