How do professional relationships survive crisis?

Over the years, I have built a strong, professional relationship with Jeff. He helps with all the printing work for my business. He is an  individual with varied interests and his life beyond work often becomes the topic of our conversation.

When the pandemic hit, all printing work went out of the window, and there was no longer a need for me to keep in touch with Jeff. However, sometime in May, I thought about him and messaged him to ask about his mother and a charity he supported in Vietnam. I had something other than work I could connect with him on.

Keeping in touch with Jeff felt safe and meaningful. He didn’t want anything from me, and vice versa. We genuinely cared for one another.

Last month we introduced a new offering in our business and printing was required for that. I messaged Jeff what I needed, he got the printing done. After which Jeff asked me  if I needed help to deliver the printing to my client’s office whether locally or overseas. I was surprised that he was willing to go the extra mile to help me deliver to my clients.

I was once again reminded, why I work with him. What I have learnt about great professional relationships through crisis is,

  • They go beyond professional boundaries which means, we talk more than just about work. And when the work doesn’t exists, we still have threads for conversation.
  • When working professionally the goal is to delight not just satisfy. The act of printing being delivered to clients was delightful.

When I think of Jeff, I am reminded of the key findings from a recent study published in Harvard Business Review: THE IMPLICATIONS OF WORKING WITHOUT AN OFFICE

  • The best predictor of adaptation to work in the new normal is being agreeable and emotionally stable. Agreeableness – a trait often associated with an individual’s proclivity toward maintaining positive relationships, feeling others’ emotions, sympathising with others’ feelings, and being interested in others and their challenges.
  • Communication went up 40% with strong ties but down 10% with weak ties

Jeff surely is a strong tie.

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