Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Dr Suzie Hamlin
Organisational Development Consultant
11:56 AM 18th June 2013

Relationships Are Like Bridges

Humber toll bridge - Photo by mostaque
Humber toll bridge - Photo by mostaque
There is much talk in the business world of 'Relationship Capital' (the value of an organisation's relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders) and 'Employee Engagement' (the extent to which an employee is involved in, and enthusiastic about their work), whilst 'Emotional Intelligence' (the ability to identify, assess, and control emotions) has often been rated as far more important than academic ability.

'Relationships are like bridges, the stronger they are the weightier the message that is able to travel safely over them'
These terms attempt to articulate how good relationships with key people plus engaged, relational employees will bring value to an organisation.

There is much truth behind these, now commercialised, terms and it all boils down to the ability to relate to, and build relationship with, others.

Relationships are like bridges, the stronger they are the weightier the message that is able to travel safely over them.

So it is important to be able to realistically assess how strong a bridge is, what weight of message can travel over it and what strategies will fortify it.

Some Strategies for Fortifying Bridges

Put Yourself in Others' Shoes

It is important to genuinely try to see things from other people's perspectives and put yourself in their shoes.
If you need to get something done through someone else, consider how you can help them too, thus creating a 'win win' situation.
We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them accordingly, thus listening twice as much as we talk. Asking someone questions, really listening and avoiding the urge to turn the conversation round to you will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested.
We think we have heard and understood what others are telling us but so often we have heard it through our own biased opinions. So always check your understanding by saying "so what you mean is...." to see if what you have heard is actually what they have said.

See things from a different angle - photo by alphaxion
See things from a different angle - photo by alphaxion
Don't Let Negative Perceptions Take Root

When people speak negatively about one of your colleagues, even if you don't know them, their comments lodge in your brain and can easily become your opinion. If someone starts to do this you could ask them to stop, to prevent a negative perception taking root.
Consider the perceptions you hold about other people and teams that are not very charitable. There is often a 'kernel' of truth within that perception, but if you actively challenge it and decide to find out more about them and the demands they face, you will begin to disperse some of these perceptions.

Relationship + Challenge = Receptivity + Stronger Relationship

It is good to want to constructively challenge the status quo but it will only be received well if you have made the effort to genuinely understand and build relationship with the people you intend to challenge.

Dr. Suzie Hamlin specializes in Change Management, Organisational Development and Communications, getting under the skin of large or small organisations, diagnosing what is going on and helping them to improve communication, collaborative working and productivity.

For more information visit