How to Develop Your Relationship Intelligence

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things: 1) get to know yourself; 2) build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life; and 3) resolve conflict constructively.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am a big fan of SUCCESS Magazine.  I read each issue from cover to cover – with a pen in hand to make notes to myself.  If you’re not already a subscriber, I suggest that you go to and do so.  The October 2008 issue has some great articles.  I really enjoyed one call “Relationship Intelligence” by Jim Cathcart.

Jim defines relationship intelligence as, “The ability to employ relationships effectively to achieve your desired outcomes.”

A sidebar to the article listed Jim’s “Five Tips to Help You Build Better Business Relationships.”

  1. Approach each contact as the beginning of a long-term High-Value Relationship.  Expect great things over the long run, and do your part to help both of you achieve your desired outcomes.
  2. Plan to be loyal to your customers whether they are loyal to you or not.  Be trustworthy, so they will be loyal in return.
  3. Continually ask yourself, “What else can I do for them without asking for something else?”
  4. Give others the option to occasionally have a bad day without becoming upset or judgmental toward them.  Nobody is always at their best.
  5. Don’t always ask for something, occasionally just give something or just listen to another person without trying to fix them or sell them.

I agree with this advice.  I often tell my executive coaching clients that giving with no expectation of return is one of the best ways to build strong relationships.  The theme of giving with no expectation of return runs though all five pieces of Jim’s advice.

In the article itself, he goes on to say…

(When another person) “realizes that you are genuinely interested in helping them achieve their desired outcomes, then they will value your relationship more.  This causes them to commit to keeping you in their world.  They become glad to know you.  Treat every person with dignity and respect, regardless of how little power they possess.  Who knows? The clerk who serves you today may be the son or daughter of the business executive who gives you the sale of a lifetime tomorrow.”

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people are good at building relationships.  Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to build strong relationships.  Other people will appreciate you for it – and most of them will reciprocate in due time.  And as always, interpersonally competent people treat everyone they meet with dignity and respect.  Do this not because you think that they might be able to help you, now or in the future; but because they are fellow human beings, and as such, are due your respect.

That’s my take on Jim Cathcart’s ideas on relationship intelligence.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this post.  As always, thanks for reading – and writing.


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  1. Hello Bud, thank you for the wonderful compliments on my article and the extension of my message. Whenever I can be a resource to you please let me know. I’m happy to respond to any inquiries you get to this article.
    Jim Cathcart

  2. Jim:
    Thank you for your comment. I really enjoyed your article.
    All the best,

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