Creating Real Relationships in a Data-Driven World

Creating Real Relationships in a Data-Driven World


Real relationships matter in business. Do you have the relationships you need to be truly influential and accomplish great work? That’s what today’s post is all about.

Imagine this. You’ve taken time to prepare for an upcoming client meeting or maybe a networking event. You know what you want to say and have the data to prove it. The moment of truth arrives and you present your information. Only to be met with resistance.

I don’t like what the data says for my company.

That’s not what we need right now.

You’re the problem.

(OK, they’re probably not saying the third one, but maybe that’s the tape playing in your mind.)

You spent a lot of time compiling the information and preparing it, but you didn’t prepare for this. You are the messenger, not the data. So why, then, are people getting so upset?

Has this, or something like it, ever happened to you?

Real relationships matter in business

That scenario came up last week during an executive communication workshop I lead with a group of analytics professionals. They spend a lot of time on their data and compiling information and are frustrated and unsure of how to handle client resistance.

So, I looked at them and said, “It’s not the data that gets work done, it’s the relationship you have with the person you’re talking to. Do you have a real relationship?”

From the look on their faces I knew the answer was NO.

Relationships matter in business. And I talk to people all the time who struggle to get their ideas heard and be influential. So, the first question I ask when we work together is: “what’s your relationship like with the people you are trying to influence?”

When I came home from teaching that workshop I found a note scribbled on a piece of paper about my business:

Engage The Room is a frame work for creating meaningful connections in business. Why? Because it’s our relationships (to self, to others, to our work) that allow us to accomplish great work, share ideas more freely, work well in meetings, refer business, reduce stress and conflict, and get people to say “yes, I like that idea.”

So, how do you build real relationships?

Lots of ways, but here are three I shared with the group last week:

  • Empathy & listening. Everyone wants to feel seen, heard and validated. So instead of shutting down or getting frustrated during times of resistance, get curious. Put yourself in their shoes and ask, “Would I be upset about this data? What about it might upset me?” Let them know you care.
  • Tell stories. Data is great, but stories are what connect us. Can you wrap your data in a story that relates to their business and gives them hope or presents opportunity for the future? This works whether you’re selling services, products or ideas.
  • Stay in touch. The real relationship building happens outside of meetings – a simple email to say “hi” and check in, a handwritten note, going to lunch, or sharing an article of interest. Staying in touch when you don’t need something is how to build and maintain the relationship. And yes, it takes work.

 “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

(Quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and others.)

Stand out in a digital and data focused world and build a real relationship. Show people that you care. And when you need them to “buy-in” to what you’re selling, the process becomes much easier. You might even find it doesn’t matter as much what the data says.

Your Turn to Talk to Me:

How do you stand out in a digital and data focused world and create a human connection and real relationship?

Check out the podcast. Engaging Voices podcast conversations focus a lot on relationships. Check out episodes with Martine Taylor and Jonas Cain for more.

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Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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