Lessons of Relationship Science from the Love Doctor

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Terri Orbuch, a.k.a. The Love Doctor, who is host of a new national public television special, “Secrets from The Love Doctor,” launching locally on PBS at 6:30 p.m. September 8th on WTVS, Detroit Public Television, Channel 56 (and nationally on November 30th). In light of my upcoming conference on relationships and storytelling to build business, I wanted to see how The Love Doctor’s scientific research about relationships might apply in the business realm.

Here’s what she had to say:

Improving the client-employee relationship. I definitely think that you can apply the same concepts in making your interpersonal relationships happy and successful to your business relationships or employee-client relationships.

I tend to think of it in 2 stages. In order to improve your relationships with your clients, first and foremost, you have to be a good, happy individual. And so in order to be a happy stress-free individual, you need some strategies.

(The second part, says The Love Doctor, is “at the dyadic level (two individuals).” We’ll get to that.)

When I talk about romantic relationships, I say that in order to have a good relationship with your partner, you need to come to the relationship with certain skills and happiness as an individual. You need to understand you as an individual. You need to practice behaviors that relieve stress as an individual.

In order to have a good client-worker relationship, just like in order to have a good romantic relationship, you first need to sit down with you as an individual. You need to figure out what your own expectations are, in the work environment. What do you want to achieve? What are your own individual goals?

Studies show the number one factor that keep employees happy and motivated is making progress at their job and in order to do that, you as an individual need to set some individual goals and know that you can grow in your job.

Second, as an individual in order to come to again a relationship with another (be it romantic or in your career), you need to know and practice behaviors that relieve stress – exercise, journaling, going out with friends, yoga, meditation. Workplace stress, just like family stress, any external stress really, can lead to poor health, physical and psychological.

For me as a therapist, a psychologist and a researcher, I know you can’t get to that dyadic level and be good at it until you first do the individual work. Even though clients may come to me and say I need, I need, I need, they can’t have 20 needs. They need to start by setting short-term and long-term goals as an individual and practice behaviors that relieve stress.

Now let’s look at that dyadic level, or how to have a  happy relationships with clients, co-workers and ultimately succeed in our careers:

Map out parameters together. Sit down together and define expectations and parameters of the relationship. It’s important to express your expectations, your concerns, your goals, and they share theirs.

Get to know your client better. Before you meet with them, before you might even begin to try to make a connection, you get to know them – their interests, their family, their food preferences (by visiting their website, doing research, etc.). Learn what you can about their businesses in the past, their ups, their downs, how large they are, what they’ve done. Knowing your client or employer really well is impressive. You’re able to talk about them, ask questions…knowing your client helps to create bonds and builds quality and stability, a good relationship.

Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves – so it’s very important that you ask questions to this potential client or JV partner. We tend to think as individuals that we should do all the talking and selling of ourselves, but actually it turns out it’s a 50-50 process and sometimes it’s even more important that this other person talks more than you do. Then, they feel validated and affirmed. It’s really important to ask good questions so that you build your questions off of the answers this person gives.

Be a really good listener. Oftentimes in relationships we learn how to speak what we want or need, but we rarely learn how to listen well. It’s very important to listen with your entire body – make eye contact, nod your head, turn your body toward the person, open your arms, lean forward, people actually watch for these non-verbal signs. Make sure that what this other person is saying is a priority. There are always distractions, so really make sure this person and what they’re saying is a priority.

Show gratitude. I believe it’s important to reward loyal clients and customers (and JV partners) – whether communicating with them often, emailing, giving them affective affirmation, in words and phrases that say what they’re doing well. Remembering the small things. Those kinds of things go a long way to build a solid, stable, enduring relationship.

Paraphrase. Repeat back to this person – in your own words – what they’re saying. Give them a chance to agree with what you’re saying and verify what they actually meant. It validates, makes them feel good about what they’re saying.

Don’t mind-read. Don’t assume that you understand or can predict; always ask.

The Love Doctor’s insights help build a foundation for understanding how relationships are key to growing business, a main focus of my Oct. 26-27 conference, Marketing, Messaging & Media: Storytelling to Build Your Business. We’ll talk about how relationships and story are the building blocks for successful business and learn in two days how to do both well and consistently.

Here’s a link to register for Marketing, Messaging & Media: Storytelling to Build Your Business. (Through Sept. 15th, there’s a buy one get one free ticket special!)

Here’s a link to learn about The Love Doctor: www.drterrithelovedoctor.com.


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