I have always known that relationships are important. Friendships can get you through just about anything. What I did not understand is that this also carried over into your professional life. The relationships that we build with our co-workers, business partners, and suppliers is paramount to professional growth.

Nurturing the relationships around us is how we achieve our goals. Whether the goal is professional or personal, relationships are the key to getting there. Those around me continually inspire me. Through that inspiration, I have grown. I no longer say, “I wish that could happen to me.” I now say, “How can I make that happen?” This change in mindset was not an easy task. There were days that I thought I was not good enough or smart enough. I was fortunate that the people around me saw the possibilities I could not. Family and friends said, “you can always learn.” This has stayed with me over the years. We should never stop learning.

I have carried this into my relationships with suppliers. For me, there is more than just the deal on the table. The relationship is just as valuable as the good or service being discussed. It would be short-sighted to treat the sales rep as if he/she were not as important as me. The way we feel at the end of the negotiation will stay with us. Will we want to engage that sales rep again if a new product or service is needed? If he/she changes companies, would he/she want to reengage with us? I recall someone telling me that years ago, it was a common tactic to yell at a sales rep, storm out of a meeting, or slam the phone down. To me, this seems unfathomable; I was assured these types of tactics had been left in the past. I remember being told from a young age: “Do unto Others as you would have them do unto you.” With this in mind, I approach every conversation as a new beginning—an opportunity to build or strengthen a relationship.

While I love a good haggle, sometimes, I just want to get to the bottom line. Having a solid working relationship with my sales reps means we know when to bargain and when to just get to the bottom line. There are four scenarios when negotiating: win-lose, win-win, lose-win, and lose-lose. Setting aside the lose-lose scenario—as no one comes to the negotiation to walk away empty-handed—the other three have been debated in other articles around negotiations. I mention them here as not a straight-up negotiation strategy but as a relationship strategy.

As I have grown, the relationships around me have transformed. These relationships are paramount to all that I have done, all I am doing, and all that I aspire to do. I was once told that people wander in and out of our lives. Some are here because they need to learn something from you. Some are here because you have something to learn from them. Some may be here for a season and some for a lifetime. No matter the reason or the length of time, the relationship is meaningful.

How do you feel about your relationships? Are you supported? Are you always the one with the answers? Do you stop to listen to those around you? Are you in the relationship just for your own immediate needs or the long haul?