Usually when someone hears the words “12-step program,” they’re quick to judge it as something to get out of a rut. But what if you turned that perspective on its axis? What if you saw a program – particularly one with 12 steps – as something to advance you to a new level of life, thought and, well, relationships?
Below are 12 key steps to take when looking to grow strong, trust-based business relationships. Easy? Yes. Simple? Well, see for yourself.
Rarely will you see someone fail in business who has thoroughly followed these simple suggestions. Those who do fail are typically people who are incapable of being honest – with their colleagues, their customers and their partners.
Other problems may temporarily deflect you, but the ability to be rigorously honest will prove immeasurably beneficial in all your business relationships.
Twelve Steps of Business Relationships
Step 1. Accept that you have no power over people, that all your attempts at control have failed. Trying to get other people to do what you want them to do is doomed to failure, no matter how good your intentions, how right your cause, or how much benefit it would bring the other.
People just wanna be free. Go with it.
Step 2. Recognize that by yourself, you can’t succeed. Your success will inevitably be tied up in the success of other people. Not only are you not driving the bus, you are just another passenger.
Step 3. Resolve that you’re going to stop trying to drive the bus, that you’ll start doing things to help other people, that you’ll focus on getting the group to succeed. When things don’t go your way, remember “your way” is what got you into this mess. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
Step 4. Make a list of all the stupid, controlling, selfish things you do to others. Be specific about whom you do them to, and what harm it does to them. Stop at ten people.
Now add to the list a few good things you do. You are, after all, worthwhile.
Step 5. Go share your list with someone you trust. Listen to what they have to say about it and learn from what they have to say. Don’t waste time arguing with them.
Step 6. Get yourself ready to stop behaving in those old ways. Think about it for a while. Make a list of the new things you’ll do. Envision yourself responding in new ways; rehearse new “lines.”
Hint: your list should probably include listening. Also, listening.
Step 7. Pick a time of your own choosing to begin the change. It could be right now, it could be next week, but not next summer. Write that date in your calendar. When it comes, step out of your old ways and start working the new.
Step 8. Think about the customers, co-workers, peers and partners you might have tried to control and what you did to them. Think of what you might have done better and plan to do better next time.
Step 9. Go back to the customers, co-workers and partners you’ve tried to control, and tell them you realize what you have done. Acknowledge your responsibility in those situations, and tell them specifically how you plan to behave differently in future.
Hint: Don’t do this if it causes upset or harm to the other person. And don’t confuse this with trying to get them to forgive you – see Step 1, above.
Step 10. At each day’s end, do a mental run-through of how you did in your new approach. Note where you fell short and what you could have done better.
Then let it go and get a good night’s sleep.
Step 11. Create a little mantra for yourself, to remind you that your job is to help others, not yourself. Get out of the instance, secure in the idea that better relationships will float all transaction boats.
Step 12. Having recognized how to apply these principles to your business affairs, give it a shot at home and in the rest of your life. You saw that one coming, right?