The importance of relationships

15. March 2024By Anita BleikerIn Negotiation

Why it is important to have a network and how to start one

The importance of small talk became clear to me only after many years in my career. In the past, I considered such conversations a mere waste of time. However, I now understand that a good and functioning network is one of the most crucial tools in the business environment.

Relationships also play a pivotal role in negotiations, and their significance should not be underestimated. Below are some key aspects that vividly illustrate why relationships are of such great importance:

  1. Trust and Credibility

Trust is a central building block of any successful negotiation. An existing connection between parties can expedite the establishment of trust. In a trusting situation, individuals are more willing to approach each other and be more flexible in negotiations.

  1. Communication and Open Exchange

In established business relationships, parties often have an open line of communication. This can be advantageous in negotiations to reduce misunderstandings and address issues more easily.

  1. Solution-oriented Approach

In a relationship, there is often a focus on finding common solutions rather than rigidly adhering to individual positions. This openness can help avoid conflicts and lead to win-win situations in negotiations.

  1. Long-term Perspective

Relationships typically have a long-term perspective. Those anticipating future business dealings are more inclined to make fair and sustainable agreements.

  1. Better and Simpler Information Gathering

Through relationships, relevant information can be acquired more easily. Negotiating partners are more willing to share information when they trust each other.

It is important to emphasize that relationships in negotiations are not always positive. If existing relationships are burdened by conflicts or prejudices, they can complicate negotiations. However, research and practice show that building and maintaining relationships are generally advantageous in most negotiation situations, contributing to more successful and efficient negotiation outcomes.

You might be wondering how to build a relationship with your negotiating partner. It’s possible that, at the beginning of a business relationship, you may not be interested or may find the other party even unfriendly. Such negative feelings can be hindrances to the negotiation process. The best approach is to adopt a neutral stance initially.

Moreover, there are proven techniques to establish a connection with the counterpart, such as the following: ask open-ended questions, actively listen, maintain a positive body language (nodding, smiling, maintaining eye contact), find common ground, and show empathy.

It’s not equally easy to establish a connection with everyone. Do not be discouraged if it doesn’t work immediately. Relationships require time, patience, and sometimes repeated efforts. The key to success lies in making the attempt and not giving up too quickly if it doesn’t work right away.