Since business is made up of transactions between and among people, the most significant aspect has to do with facing what is really going on within yourself and others.

The authoritarian point of view is driven by a dispassionate execution of the “business as usual” rules dictated with formal rigidity. This hierarchy-based model contrasts sharply with connecting with others, which takes a collaborative approach, stemming from a supportive, nurturing perspective focused on service, cultural excellence, and leading with caring and trust.

Being able to connect with others is based on relationship, which is fair to both sides, whereas the authoritarian approach ignores anything other than selfish point of view.

Awareness builds rapport and trust, ultimately alliance. The French philosopher Rene Descartes illustrated the division between mind and body by declaring in his Discours de la Methode, “I think, therefore I am.” The authoritarian approach says, “I dominate, therefore I am.” Whereas connecting with others can be illustrated by declaring, “I relate, therefore I am.” This involves respect for others, enhanced by finding similarities with them, not the differences.

Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, is famous for his social and political satire aimed at ridiculing the vanity of kings and clerics. Arguably France’s greatest dramatist of the 18th century, Voltaire was, according to present-day pundits in an article in The Wall Street Journal, “unsparing in his criticism of the foible of clerics… regularly decrying what he called L’Infame, the ‘infamy’ of superstition, fanaticism and intolerance.” Clearly, Voltaire set the pace of connecting with others for years and centuries to come by facing social reality so bravely at a time when politics were not bound by rule of law. Only by his own wit and social charm was Voltaire able to write so truthfully about the “infamous” society around him and get away with it.

Always look for those opportunities to appropriately apply your ‘wit and social’ charm to nurture your personal and professional relationships. And remember, “I relate, therefore I am.”

To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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