The Answered of Relationship Question

Why do we think that other people can answer our questions better than we can?

Why are we always giving our power away like this?

I mean, just because someone can look at our relationship situation dispassionately does NOT mean that they know what answer is going to work best for us.

That’s what I say, anyway, because I believe we already know the answers to any questions or problem situations that seem to exist in our lives. We’re all pretty smart, really, if only we’d trust ourselves a bit more.

And if we get it wrong, sometimes, we get it wrong. Hey, what would you have learnt about walking or talking if you were never able to make a mistake as a child?

Anyway, it seems that people do give their power (wisdom) away, especially when it comes to relationship questions. “Please help me!”, they urge, when if they just trusted their own inner wisdom a bit more they’d find their own answer soon enough.

Thus this article…
So, according to the relationship advice forum I’ve been running since 2011 (and a few other reliable online relationship resources), these are the top 10 relationship questions that people seem to be asking:

1. Are they interested in me?

2. Why won’t they commit to me?

3. How to deal with controlling relationships?

4. Why don’t they trust me?

5. How far should I travel for love?

6. How can I get them to… ?

7. Importance of sex in relationships?

8. How do I learn to trust again?

9. Why do we keep breaking up?

10. Should I leave them?

(Nicely sum up the path that most relationships take, don’t they, these relationship questions.)

I’m going to spend the rest of this relationship questions article briefly answering these questions, by way of generalisation, but also in such a way that helps you find your own answers. Because, in truth, only you know what’s going to work for you in your relationship.

Okay, let’s go then…
“Sometimes love isn’t fireworks, sometimes love just comes softly.” — Janette Oke

Question 1. Are they interested in me?

Hmm, there really is ONLY one way to find out if someone is interested in you, I think you’ll agree, and it isn’t asking me or a friend or even a friend of the person you’re interested in. Ask the person directly, and find out for yourself!

The thing about relationships is that they have to involve some element of risk for them to be worthwhile being involved with. That’s just how it works. And that risk is quite often evident at the beginning of a relationship.

“Oh no!”, you think to yourself, “I asked her out and she’s just not interested in me! What will I do?” You’ll live, that’s what you’ll do, and you’ll start to feel stronger in who you are as a man or as a woman because you act on your convictions.

Question 2. Why won’t they commit to me?

It is said that men are commitment-phobes, and maybe they are in comparison to women who knows. But, usually, when someone doesn’t want to commit to a person, or a course of action, it’s because they’re not sure it’s the right thing to do. It’s that simple. Now the reason why they’re not sure, that might take some finding out, and is beyond the scope of this relationship questions article, but you will be able to find out via good communication.

So talk to this person, and see what their concerns are. Listen, but listen well, and learn.

Time for another quote about relationships, I think:

“When women hold off from marrying men, we call it independence. When men hold off from marrying women, we call it fear of commitment.” — Warren Farrell

Question 3. How to deal with controlling relationships?

Hmm, the need to control comes from a false belief that that’s the only way to get what a person wants from someone. They don’t know any better, basically. And if you can show this person that they really can trust you (that they really can trust themselves) in this relationship then you might, just might, be able to help this person let go of their controlling behaviour.

Good luck.

Question 4. Why don’t they trust me?

Usually, a person doesn’t trust someone because they don’t trust themselves.

Example. I’m worried that my woman might be cheating on me, say, and so I check up on her all the time (and I start to be the type of controlling man in Q3.) And I do this because I wrongly believe I won’t be able to cope if she IS cheating. I’m worrying myself over something that’s probably not going to happen ‘just in case’. But if I believed in myself, trusted myself to be enough, I’d be far more likely to trust my woman. And if she ends up cheating on me, then I know I’ll be able to cope with the situation, know it’s her and not me. I move on. I don’t take it personally. Simple.

Question 5. How far should I travel for love?

There are those that say that long distance relationships don’t work, that sooner or later someone will have to move to the other person’s locale; and on that day the balance of power will have irrevocably shifted.

What do I say? I say that you should find a quiet space in yourself, and ask yourself whether this person is worth it, whether the distance is worth it. And each person will have their own answers, here…
Question 6. How can I get them to… ?

Hmm, isn’t it interesting how these relationship questions overlap. This sounds suspiciously like the other side of the controlling question (see Q3).

A better question would be, “Why do you want them to… ?”. Find out the answer to that question, with some honest self-examination, and then share the results with your partner. I will help the both of you, for sure, doing so.

After all good communication like this is at the heart of healthy relationships, no?

Question 7. Importance of sex in relationships?

How important is sex in a relationship? Very. Or not at all.

Seriously, this is a question to ask yourself. Again, quieten your mind for a few moments and ask this of yourself (if you don’t know already). Then listen to the answers that come. It’s called intuition, this, and is a far better source of wisdom than some random article on the Internet claiming to know all the answers (to the top 10 relationship questions).

Note: I find a little bit of self-effacement always helps in relationships. Well, definitely in article writing, anyway.

Oh, and when you know whether it’s important or not, then that’s your answer no matter what other people think (including your partner).

Question 8. How do I learn to trust again?

Relationships bring risk. There are no guarantees. Nothing, least of all relationships, is certain.

Understand these things, and know that you cannot know how a relationship will work out. And then, then you’ll know it’s time to get involved again, time to take risks. (Listening to the wisdom you’ve accrued from making previous mistakes, I politely suggest.)

Now, time for another relationship quote:

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” — Walter Anderson

Question 9. Why do we keep breaking up?

Love and relationships can do that to you, sometimes – mess you up! And it can be oh so frustrating.

Basically speaking, your relationship’s not working. And, more importantly, you’re not working – you’re not listening to your inner wisdom enough, here, and you’re not trusting that whatever happens in this relationship – you break up, you get back together – that things will be okay. They will. Just trust yourself more. Things will be okay. They will.

Question 10. Should I leave them?

Yes.

No.

It depends.

(Really, you need to find some quiet time here and answer this question for yourself. Nobody knows better than you, whether you should leave someone or no! Not your Mum, not your best friend, and not your partner. You know best. Always. But only when you quieten your mind, make some space, and let the wisdom come through… )

 

Find Your Relationship Purpose

Did you know that relationships are eternal? They reflect the energetic ties and karma to be played out incarnation after incarnation, as we carry them along on our soul journey. In truth, we’ve been meeting pretty much the same souls over and over, trying to heal our wounds and learning to relate with love and compassion for one another, or at least enough detachment to break any toxic or painful bonds.

Sometimes we meet them for just a moment and sometimes we maintain relationships that last years, depending on what we’ve chosen to work on. This is why you may feel an instant connection or attraction to some people, as well as an aversion toward certain individuals, and these may include family members that you are supposed to love. Indeed, close family members are the ones we usually share the most negative karma with! Yet we need to experience those painful relationships to resolve old emotional patterns and tendencies, to grow and evolve.

Relationships are complex and multi-layered. On one level, they connect us to the world, stimulate the physical senses, and bring contrast to our experience of reality. On another level, they trigger the ego-mind and activate the unconscious emotional fabric that is the foundation of our life. So even though we may think we know who we are entering a relationship with, we may not necessarily see the underlying vibrational patterns that connect us to that person-since they come from the past.

Some of those patterns create positive points of connection (shared interests, dreams, beliefs, aspirations, principles, etc.) while others manifest as conflict, because they touch the wounds that we try so hard to avoid and disconnect from. The ego believes that relationships are mainly self-gratifying: they provide affection, sex, companionship, support, and so on. Conflicts arise when our ego-based needs aren’t met.

From a spiritual perspective, however, close relationships are meant to be learning platforms for self-knowledge and self-growth. They serve as mirrors that reflect our belief system-especially what we believe about ourselves-and reactivate past emotional wounds that need to be dealt with and resolved.

Find the Purpose of Your Relationships

We choose relationships to put all our stuff in our face, so to speak, because it’s easier that way for us to take care of what needs attention. Of course, it’s not the only way to resolve our issues, but since we get very attached to the person we are in relationship with, we feel like we have to deal with them in order to stop the pain and move forward-either because we want to continue or end the relationship.

Of course, we can also choose not to deal with any of it and jump from one relationship to the next, simply repeating and re-encountering the same type of problems with different people, while our ego tries to disguise them as something completely new. No wonder why it takes lifetimes to resolve our issues and be at peace with some people! That is, until we understand the purpose of being in relationship and shift our perspective and approach.

You may think that you need a partner for companionship or to experience love (yes, life is tough and it can get lonely), but at a soul level every relationship is an opportunity to learn about yourself and heal the emotional wounds, wrong perceptions, unspoken agreements, and negative tendencies that you’ve been carrying for a long time. In other words, they are meant to make you aware of how much or how little you truly love yourself. So what are YOUR relationships reflecting back at you about yourself?

If you think that a close relationship should fulfill all your needs, well, I’ve got news for you: no single relationship can ever do that. But you can use each opportunity to work toward personal growth and emotional freedom, instead of letting your life revolve around others. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you really want to create loving relationships, you first need to learn to be alone and develop a deep, loving, and meaningful relationship with the most important person in your life: YOU. This one becomes the pattern for all other relationships in your life.

Learn To Be In Love With Love

Love is not a sentimental, self-gratifying game. Love is your true nature. And if you want to really experience love in relationship, you need to nurture your self-love and choose a partner that does the same-someone who’s not growing cannot allow you to grow. In other words, you both have to establish more loving relationships with yourselves first and also be open and willing to let the other person be who they are. Otherwise, the tendency will be to connect from an unconscious wounded place, simply trying to heal your wounds through the other, while your partner tries to do the same through you.

If I asked you, “Can you lend me $500?” you’d probably look in your wallet or your pocket to check how much money you have. If you don’t have any, you’d say, “Sorry, I don’t have any money.” If you have exactly $500, you wouldn’t want to give me all your money, right? But if you were carrying $10,000 in your pocket, you could reach for the $500 and hand them to me without hesitation.

Similarly, how can you love openly without feeling that something is being taken away from you, or without expecting something in return, if you don’t cultivate and replenish your self-love on a regular basis? Without that anchor to keep you centered and strong, it’s very easy to get lost in relationship. It’s not because you love too much, it’s because of a lack of center-of a strong inner connection to yourself. Lust, passion or shared interests are not enough to hold a relationship for long; they eventually fade away and change. Love and growth are much stronger pillars for long lasting relationships.

So I’d suggest that you focus on them first and foremost:

  1. Cultivate love within yourself and let your cup run over toward others;
  2. Tackle your emotional issues to connect at a heart level, not from the wounded ego-mind;
  3. Remain independent and nurture activities that keep you centered and connected to yourself;
  4. Be in love for love’s sake and choose a partner with whom to share the pursuit of self-growth.

Be Independent and Connect from the Heart

In our dysfunctional world, love has become a commodity and a transaction: if you give me what I want, I give you affection or attention in return. If you don’t behave the way I expect, then I withhold my love. We all learn these emotional patterns in early childhood, and they shape beliefs that defeat the purpose of creating loving relationships. Instead of nurturing and allowing love to evolve, we expect and demand more. And if we don’t get what we want, we grow resentful and dissatisfied. We become self-centered instead of self-loving.

However, as the Feminine energies of the planet continue to take back their place, we are challenged to review, re-visit and re-evaluate our relationships, and to establish loving relationships in creative cooperation, with one another and in our communities. This is necessary to support the re-balancing of the Masculine and Feminine principles on Earth. It obviously seems easier said than done, because for thousands of years we’ve invested an enormous amount of energy solidifying the power-based relationships that we are so familiar with, but we can begin overturning that now. It is time, and you are fully supported if you are willing to create a new paradigm in relationships.

To get there, it is necessary to take full responsibility for your emotional well being and break the karmic cycle of power-struggle type of relationships that arise from a victim-blame dynamic. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting great opportunities to discover what love truly is and reconnect with your divine nature and with other human beings who may be seeking the exact same thing you are: your true sense of self.

So contact me if you are ready to shift to a higher level of connection to yourself and others, heal your emotional wounds, and nurture your independence and sense of self, so you can create loving, joyful, and empowering relationships that allow and support you to be who YOU truly are, to grow and shine, and fall in love with love.

 

Consider You Are In Abuse Relationship

Do feel like you are thriving in your relationship? Some people don’t realise that they are in a one-sided relationship where their rights as a human being are abused. They don’t always consciously notice that they are being manipulated, controlled and used for the purpose of pleasing their partner. An abusive partner can be male or female and abuse can be sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse.

Are All Your Relationships Abusive?

Some people just seem to attract people who abuse them. They may have escaped one abusive relationship only to find the next relationship also brings abuse too. Psychologists have recognised that some people unconsciously choose partners who will abuse them because that is the only form of attention they have been used to. Others would rather endure an abusive relationship than end it because to leave it brings other anxieties such as fear of loneliness (eg. I’ll never find anyone at my age), financial difficulty (eg where would I live), shame (eg. what would my friends say) or other stresses that might make the abuse seem the easier option.

Tell-tale Signs of an Abusive Relationship

There are signs that can indicate abuse in a relationship. This list is not exhaustive give an idea:-

1. Your partner is excessively jealous and possessive and will accuse you of betraying them or not loving them enough. They will constantly check on your whereabouts and what you are doing almost to the point of interrogation. They may even monitor your internet and mobile phone activity

2. Your partner manipulates your existing relationships and attempts to cut you off from anyone that might criticise them or encourage you to have your freedom

3. Your partner never takes responsibility for anything unless it is a success. If things fail it is your fault or they blame other people or situations.

4. Your partner’s emotions are made your responsibility. So that if they become angry, sad or stressed it is your fault

5. Your partner makes all the important decisions and doesn’t discuss these with you. You are expected to agree with these decisions unquestionably.

6. Your partner wants their needs met by you and others and never pays any heed to your needs unless it is a manipulation to get their needs met (eg. I did that for you therefore you must do this for me)

7. Your partner may expect you to adhere to rules that they do not follow themselves. They may have been unfaithful but expect you to be faithful.

8. Your partner will accuse you of being unreasonable and yet be unreasonable themselves.

9. Your partner will hide all of the above and often be charming and agreeable with everyone else except you. You will feel trapped in the relationship because everyone else will believe their smoke-screen of being wonderful and how could you contemplate leaving such a wonderful person?

These are probably the most obvious elements of an abusive relationship. Yet any relationship can have elements of abuse that are detrimental to the health of the relationship. Most of us “turn up” to relationships that form as we go along and as the relationship matures.

What Happens to a Relationship?

Rarely does someone begin a relationship understandably with a list of do’s and don’ts about what they like. Rules in a relationship may form in verbal communications (eg. I don’t like it when you… ) and they can form in what we perceive through interactions (eg. partner looked angry when I… ). They can even be historical rules that are brought to the relationship from childhood and observing your parents relationship or from past intimate relationships.

We rarely sit down and consider how our relationships run and have become. This is a pity because it is only through talking about our personal relationship ( or other wider relationships) can we address unspoken issues that, if not resolved can lead to resentment, betrayal, depression and ultimately the ending of the relationship.

Abuse and What it Does to You

Feeling used, abused and disrespected in a relationship eventually leads to low self-esteem and low self worth for anyone. If you feel like you have no status and no respect in your relationship than you won’t get it by acting like a door mat. If you’re always being criticised and never praised, how can you feel good in your relationship? If you’re always giving but never receiving you will find it unsustainable.

Everyone deserves a happy life and for many people, being in a relationship is one of the main pillars of happiness and fulfilment in life. Staying in an unhappy relationship drains your energy, muddles your life purpose and saps your will and if you’re not careful can waste many years of your life.

It’s Time to Find You Again

If you’ve lost yourself in your relationship along with your sense of purpose and don’t know quite which way to turn, this can be a sign that you are no longer thriving. It doesn’t mean that the relationship needs to end but on the other hand sometimes it is the best for all concerned.

Even being free of an abusive relationship can leave you with feelings that cause you doubts about ever finding happiness. Maybe you are in a loving relationship but are unable to let go of insecurities that a past unhealthy relationship has left you with.

Finding Your Authentic Self

What can really make a difference and empower you to make informed choices is to find your ” authentic self ” again. This is the self that you put away and that was rejected by others and has felt crushed, never to come out for fear of being laughed at, teased, bullied and rejected again. Let’s face it, how can you really feel loved if you hide away your authentic self and only present to the world the mask of acceptability you have been manipulated into creating?

Whilst emotions such as sadness and anxiety are a part of living and as much as happiness and joy are, they don’t have to dominate your every moment. Wouldn’t you rather live and thrive with the energy, enthusiasm and verve that goes hand-in-hand with a healthy purposeful life?

EMSRP and Healthy Relationships

There is no secret to living a happy and thriving life. It begins with being honest with yourself, who you are and what your needs are. EMSRP – Emerging Meta-Schematic Repatterning provides a series of simple steps that help you flourish in all your authenticity. It gets you to map what is right for you and then check this against your relationships to be able to make informed choices. It helps to set you free to live and thrive in life.

 

All About Relationship Management

Introduction

The management of relationships has been a facet of business for as long as business transactions have existed. On the most basic level, Relationship Management is about interaction with customers. From a broader perspective one can consider employees, suppliers and consumers as customers, the employees being the internal customers of the organization. Relationship Management deals with the treatment and management of partnerships, connections, linkages and chains between business entities.

For the purposes of this paper, we view Relationship Management (RM) as a conscious and planned activity. It would be misleading to suggest that there have not been relationships in business or any focus on relationships by companies. However, the thrust of RM, as expounded in recent times, points to a more tactical and strategic approach to focusing on the customer rather than a relentless focus on the competition.

After the economic downturn of the 90s, many companies started to examine the possible benefits to be gained from less negotiation strong-arming, closeness to suppliers and the establishment of constructive relationships with strategic stakeholders. This does not suggest that RM was founded in the US, or has not existed before then; the Japanese had perfected RM and value-concretisation into an art form on the basis of social structure and communal creed.

RM itself has not just many types but many levels. The manufacturer has his suppliers and the end users as his customers; the retailer has the manufacturers and the end users as his customers, and manufacturer, the supplier and every organization with a tactical or strategic agenda have internal customers.

Literature Review

There have been several different sub types of Relationship Management introduced by writers, marketers and business pundits, starting from the most widely known Customer Relationship Management (Buttle, 2004; Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004) to Customer Centricity (Gummesson, 2008); Collaborative Customer Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004); Supply Chain Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004), Integrated Supply Chain Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004), and so on. Hines (2006) delineates three types of relationships: the strategic alliance, the functional partnership and the one-sided partnerships. Donaldson & O’Toole (2007) outlines four types of relationships: partnership, friendship, adversarial and detachment. Our discussion here centres on four components of Customer Relationship Management: Customer Identification, Customer Attraction, Customer Retention and Customer Development; all of which, for the purposes of this paper, we shall consider all of these under the blanket term Relationship Management; Relationship Marketing, the management of, not the cooperation with customers; the latter being the job of relationship management, is not within the scope of this paper but since from a conceptual perspective, the difference between the two may not be as simplistic and marked, it may be mentioned or discussed in passing.

Traditionally, RM was an activity (or non-activity) that involved an electronic customer database of an organisation’s customers or consumers,which reports on consumer buying behaviour. Contemporarily, RM delves much deeper than this: undertaking intensive research on customers and customer behaviour and using the result of such research to (re)design business culture. RM, at its strategic level, advocates for a business culture with a concentrated focus on the customer rather than on the products or the sales, but what seems to be the biggest trump card of and in RM is loyalty. The customer-centric concentration in business relationships in recent times has forced a move towards shared goals and shared benefits, and for this to work there has to be commitment; each party being committed to their personal objectives but also to the shared goals; each party having the competence to carry out their responsibilities and believing and relying, having a confident and positive expectation that the other party will act within the ambits of the agreement.

The focus on the customer (which is the basis for a relational existence) runs across certain concepts: price, quality, innovation, reliability of product, reliability of associated service and brand reputation. On the proven premise that it is easier and cheaper to retain a customer than to attain a new one or regain a lost one, customer RM on the concepts already discussed should be the goal of the contemporary business.

Different types of RM have been identified, ranging from the transactional, the collaborative and the formation of alliances, which is also known as partnerships or value-added exchanges. The alliance is a partnership with suppliers that involves a mutual beneficiary arrangement where cost-cutting ventures are jointly addressed by both buyer and seller, the seller being considered an extension of the buyer’s organization. The business relationship between Japanese suppliers using JIT is a good example. For example Toyota holds a strong alliance even with its 3rd tier vendors. The result of such partnerships means added value, reduced production and transport costs, a more seamless supply and delivery network, and maintenance of exceptional quality, as per TQM considerations.

Traditionally, companies were preoccupied with rigorous competition, firm-induced and firm-controlled business strategies, focus on short-term profits and strategies and independent decision-making. This transactional existence meant a focus more on the competition than the customer, a concentration on short-term profits rather than long-term strategic gains and likelihood to be blind to opportunities for expansion and change. Today’s strategically-minded companies are pre-occupied with partnership with other firms, collaboration and coaction, boundarylessness, joint decision-making and a focus on long term benefits. With today’s business climate, one can easily foresee a rapidly changing business environment where manufacturers will have the most fruitful partnerships with every member of the supply chain and the consumers, a scenario where the manufacturer will run a ‘virtual factory’ with the effective and efficient use of value chain networks unlimited by geographical location or consideration.

RM functions on a strategic, a tactical and an operational level. Businesses that are product-oriented ensure effective performance of their products, in the design, the features and output; the production-oriented business (not to be confused with the product-oriented) believe in mass production at a cheap scale on the notion that the customer uses low-price as a singular consideration; sales-oriented businesses put a lot of stock in advertising, promotions and public relations while the customer-centric enterprise strives to understand its customers preferences and purchasing behaviour and models its business activities to suit this. This is considered strategic RM. The operational level deals with automating the customer management process using computer applications and devices across market, sales force and service categories. Tactical RM deals with using the data from customer management computer applications to add value both to the customer and the company.

While it would be immensely useful to run a customer database to keep the organization in sync with full information with its customers, RM especially from a strategic perspective delves deeper than mere software; it deals with a ‘pull’ strategy, letting the wants and needs of the customer dictate what products and services are offered, rather than the other way round, using a production-oriented strategy to ‘push’ products and services that the consumers may or may not need, but which does not ultimately satisfy the customer.

Companies generate more revenue when they satisfy – and because of this retain- their customers. It is hereby propounded that the simple economic fact that customer retention is cheaper than customer attraction provides the customer with an intrinsic importance to business performance than anything else.

The Customer

Discussions on RM, or even relationship marketing, cannot be possible with the exclusion of the word ‘customer’. The customer is the object – and sometimes also the subject – of RM. Attainment of an effective RM is consistent upon customer satisfaction, customer retention, customer loyalty and a host of sub-concepts preceded by the word ‘customer’.

But while it is known what the customer represents, it is not always known who the customer is or how many different representations of the customer we have.

A vehicle manufacturer for example will have its suppliers of raw material in tiers, its distribution partners, and the actual end users. From a business point of view, all these are customers and even though there is only a single set of consumers. The basis of the RM between these different customers (and even between different sub-levels of customers – supplier tiers for instance) could be immense. Customer Relationship Management in its true sense may refer only to the end users or consumers in this case, for the attraction and retention schemes may not apply to first tier suppliers, though development will, albeit from a different perspective.

In business, the customer therefore is not someone who pays for goods and services; it is evidently a unit that has some considerable stake – not stock- in the business and whose input contributes in one way or another to the bottom line. By the same token, the employees in an organization are customers; internal customers. Paradoxically, so are senior management; and middle and junior management. On the concept of ‘keiretsu’, the Japanese takes the word ‘customer’ to a disparate level. Kaoru Ishikawa, one of the top five Quality Management gurus, supersedes that when he suggests that ‘the next process is your customer’ as an appropriate maxim for the drive towards customer satisfaction. For Ishikawa, the customer is not merely an object, it becomes an activity, a process, a goal.

Supply Chain Relationship Management

From a supply chain management perspective, RM is centred on the chief players: the manufacturer and the supplier. There may be several suppliers, several tiers of suppliers and several types of suppliers (retailers, resellers, etc). There would obviously be the end user. Of major importance is the relationship between manufacturer and principal suppliers.

Three major types of relationship types in the supply chain are hereby identified: the adversarial, the transactional and the strategic. Both sets of authorities on the subject hold that the transactional relationship (as opposed to the relational variety) has a transactional rather than a partnership focus; is competition rather than collaboration-oriented; is firm-benefiting as opposed to being partnership-profitable; is independent and therefore myopic rather than interdependent and is viable only for the short term.

Strategically, it is the relational type that is considered a partnership. The traditional partnership is that between the manufacturer and its principal supplier(s). There are also lateral partnerships, between competitors; buyer partnerships between firms and eventual and/or intermediate customers; internal partnerships which refer to the concept of the internal customership within organizations and across functional departments.

A relationship is considered adversarial where there is fear, threats (whether tacit or overt) and coercion (whether esoteric or actual). In the automotive manufacturing business for example, a manufacturer can have an adversarial relationship with suppliers if the bargaining power of the manufacturer is considerable in a case where a good percentage of the supplier’s products are purchased by the one manufacture or a chain of them. In such cases, the manufacturer attempts to attain value by pursuing only its own interests; being strategically independent (rather than interdependent); communicating unilaterally; influencing decisions using force or the threat of force; using competitive bidding rather than establish strategic relationships with few suppliers; and entrench all discussions, agreements, terms and conditions in detailed formal contracts.

For the most part, RM in the supply chain is vertical, as partnerships are built with firms along the value chain. Some companies do not realize any value because their customer/consumer RM is kept separate from their supplier relationship management; for supply chain networks to thrive effectively, establishing partnerships is simply a means, not the end itself. The mere establishment of partnerships does not suggest a collective move towards a shared goal. For that to be existent, the partnerships must be collaborative. Collaboration involves significant investment of those involved incorporation mutual understanding, shared vision, shared resources, united goal achievement, trust, trustworthiness and complete functional interdependence.

Culture and Relationship Management

Culture refers to the way things are done and have been done in an organization or social setting for a considerable period. Culture determines behaviour patterns; it is integrated into the behavioural framework of a person or a group of people; it is the result of not only learned, but acquired behaviour patterns, and it is a collection of behaviour, attitudes, character traits, convictions and belief shared by a group of people.

Cultural differences could not only limit the functional success of relationships, it could derail the effectiveness of RM, or terminate it completely. Cultural differences cover personality traits, gender differences, geographical, social and business disparities. Social culture defines how people manage relationships, and effectively therefore, to what extent relationships can be properly managed. Corporate culture issues aptly capture the issue of RM and the extent to which relationships can be successful across two or more firms: The essence of corporate culture is an organization’s conviction about how its business is to be enacted. Then there is culture based on geography; Country culture determines corporate culture(s) to a large extent. One of the main determiners of country and corporate culture may be the extent to which people treasure personal relationships. While the long-standing relationship of two firms in Asia may be maintained primarily because of some earlier personal connection, the long-standing relationship of two firms in the US may be maintained primarily on the betterment of the bottom line of both firms. While using coercion as a conduit for good RM may be an effective negotiating strategy in the US for example, it may be considered grave disrespect in many parts of Asia and may lead to the premature severance of a good business relationship.

From a country culture perspective, it has been suggested that the French are not interested in whether they are liked; the Americans are impatient and negotiate to tie up every loose end, as opposed to the Chinese who negotiate solely to build a better relationship, not to tie up loose ends all at once, since as far as they are concerned negotiations never end; the Italians and Germans never offer praise before they criticize; the Indians feel that interruptions during discussions is a way of fostering more understanding; the Americans are said to talk too much and would ask personal questions which people from other cultures may find distasteful. These classifications may be too generic and type-casted, but if they are to be accepted (or even tolerated) as factual, then it is but natural that customer relationship management with have different results and outcomes in different countries with disparate cultures and different people. As a prerequisite to effective management of relationships therefore, a useful understanding of personal and social attitudes and expectations of the other parties may help the partnership.

‘Guanxi’ is a Chinese cultural way of interacting and managing relationships in business. It encourages supply chains and networks based on interactions and negotiations between family members, friends and people of trust. Anyone outside this circle of trust is likely to be treated with suspicion at best, and hostility at worst. In the management of relationships between international firms for instance, a subject who does not fall within that circle of trust is likely to have zero limit to manoeuvrability in negotiations and discussions. The giving of gifts which is an essential element of ‘Guanxi’ may be viewed upon as unethical or improper by another party or potential partner.

It may be easy to suggest that the establishment of relationships should not in any way be affected by culture. However, if cultural issues are likely to limit the organizations ability to manipulate or manoeuvre in business relationships, it means that realization, identification and modification of the cultural issues should be a valid point in the establishment of set objectives for the effective management of meaningful business relationships. Capon (2004) seems to concur when she says that ‘everyone lives culture, but only the clever are able to manage it’.

For RM to be successful, there has to be a constant supply of reliability between and among all parties. Every party to the relationship should have the confidence that the other party is in a position to deliver as promised, and will. This is where the issue of trust comes in. Trust is one of the most important antecedent to a successful business partnership; in the realm of retailing, many repeat purchases and purchase considerations are made based on product trust, store trust, brand trust or a combination of these.

Trust and Relationship Management

Many attempts have been made to define or (failing which, to) describe the apparently elusive concept of trust. Plenty definitions have been offered, some have been markedly different, but most have been consistent on the central issue: that trust is the anticipation by one that the other will not take undue advantage. Trust is an expectation that another will not take undue advantage; it is the chosen susceptibility of one party to be vulnerable to the possible unfairness and selfishness of another; it is the belief in the integrity of another person and party; it exists only where there is risk and uncertainty which connotes that the concept of trust is linked with the likelihood of opportunism by one or more parties. Undertaking to trust therefore is synonymous to undertaking the management of risk.

The thrust in all of the definitions are basically the same; that trust is an anticipation of behaviour or actions based on stated or tacit agreement that another party will not act in its own interests. While the definitions are consistent, the treatment of the concept, the construct and its relationship to management theory and practice seem to differ. There has been very little empirical research to verify how trust functions in business or what determines trust.

Models, Types and Constructs of Trust

There have been myriad views on the models, types and constructs of trust. There are three types of trust: deterrence-based (trust that exists on the basis that opportunism will have dire consequences); knowledge-based (trust based on predictable actions) and identification-based (trust based on emotional association between the parties). Similarly, there are 3 sources of trust: process-based (trust which is based on an exchange relationship of considerable longevity); characteristic-based (trust based on social or other group characteristic) and institutional-based (the inducement of trust by social institutions.

Trust is based on 5 cognitive processes: the calculative process; the prediction process – which is the same as calculative except that the analysis here is more qualitative than quantitative; capability process; the intentionality process – the assessment of the motives and intentions of the other party; and the transference process – situation where trust is based on a trusted reference from a third party.

The processes outlined here do not necessarily challenge the conceptual theories of; rather they represent disparate viewpoints based on environment and whether trust is being viewed as a social or a business construct, and whether these are mutually exclusive. It would seem that the intentionality process is a little redundant; the interpretation of the intentions of the trustee could be analysed under the calculative or the prediction process.

The deeper the examination of trust as a concept and as an intrinsic integer in business practice, the more elusive it seems to become. If the contracts, agreement or legal implications, which we can call ‘governance devices’, do exist, then it follows that these devices were created because one or both parties do not trust each other. This does not refer to distrust, but an absence of trust. Nascent literature has propounded that an absence of trust by a trustor could be based on the fact that the trustor knows nothing about the trustee and has decided therefore not to take the risk of trusting. Since this does not mean that the trustor’s absence of trust was based on knowledge and/or experience of the trustee’s actions, it is not distrust, but an absence of trust.

Relationships and Trust

These two concepts are not the same, but in today’s business environment, the discussion of one brings out the other. Unlike relationships which just exist, trust is not a given. Trust, like respect which it incorporates, is earned; thus trust cannot exist without trustworthiness, which is the ability to earn trust, the capability of being trusted. Trustworthiness is rooted in the believer’s trust that the other party possesses integrity, values and a good sense of ethics, and therefore can be trusted. Trustworthiness has to be fathered, to be engendered by firms and organizations themselves, and this, by running the organization using a visible set of values and ethics. Trust and distrust are to be understood as one ‘bipolar construct’, diametrically existing in a continuum.

Areas for Further Research

As a firm that claims to live on customer satisfaction and successful relationship management as its key to competitive advantage, Toyota does not expect the total absence of errors though it continuously drives towards it. The Toyota Production System does provide several modes of detection and fixing of errors as they occur, but not all errors are fixed, mainly because not all errors are readily visible or apparent.

The cases of the sticky gas pedals, obstructive floor mats and the Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) are cases in points. A gas pedal as a component may not have been sticky up to when the car is driven and tested at Toyota’s plants, nor would any unexpected acceleration show itself. Nonetheless it is a manufacturing error that Toyota has addressed and has recalled vehicles to replace the faulty components at Toyota’s own cost. This does not mean that customers may easily forget or that their trust goes unaffected, especially since the death of an entire family in a Lexus crash after SUA occurred but these mishaps may have dented (not destroyed) the brand loyalty and trust of the world’s foremost car maker, if the customer assesses that the satisfaction considerably outweighs the errors. The recall of vehicles and Toyota’s promise to replace all defective gas pedals may suggest an innate concern for customers.