Guest blog by Dennis Bridges, MBA

Why do some kids make better friends than other kids?
Yesterday I found myself having this conversation with my brother and his wife. One of their children is at an age where he is making his first friends. Naturally his parents are curious who those friends will be and how they can make sure those friendships will influence him in a positive way. They also want to ensure that he in fact makes a few friends on his own. As we discussed what would make a good schoolyard friend for my little nephew we quickly built up an extensive list of attributes.Someone who would:  share, include him, know other kids he could play with and were honest and polite. The list went on and on and we began to realize that this fictional schoolyard friend we had created would probably be the best friend in the world, but he or she was completely unrealistic. We thought about our own friendships and some of the characteristics we would look for in a friend. It wasn’t difficult to come up with criteria. Once again we conjured up a list of dazzling characteristics, but after taking a step back we noticed that none of our friends and colleagues shared more than a handful of these characteristics. We also realized that the characteristics they did share were not unrealistic to expect from a kid in the schoolyard.

Ultimately, in the schoolyard you spend time with the kids you feel comfortable with and get along with. As long as my nephew plays nice he will make friends with other kids who do the same.

Relationships in business are no different. We like working with the people who “play nice”.

From my perspective there are 4 very basic criteria we gave my nephew to look for in a friend.

They should be someone who:

1. Says please and thank you.

2. Does what they say they will do.

3. Finishes what they start.

4. Shows up on time.

I believe these basic rules also resonate in business and warrant a second look from those of us who were taught them all too long ago. They are what separates the people we want to work with from the people we wouldn’t consider doing business with. They are the foundation of what we as kids called making friends and what we now refer to as relationship management.


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