Dialogue with Divya Parekh: The Power of Intentional Relationships

Divya Parekh is the CEO/Founder of The DP Group. Through tailored high-impact speaking, coaching and facilitation, DP serves corporate leaders, achievers, and entrepreneurs with powerful, practical and quantitative tools to catalyze change in their respective spheres of influence. Evidence-based strategies are employed and integrated to help clients understand, cultivate, deepen, and sustain the power of partnerships and relationships. She brings 25 years of blended expertise as a leading coach, author, consultant, and speaker.

Divya, as an authority in leadership and business, why do you think that relationship development is key to peak performance and continual success?

According to economists, when you see a close friend on most days, it has the potential to elevate our happiness equivalent to earning $100,000 a year. Additional studies, like Harvard’s 80-year-old happiness study, shows that you can live longer and be happier if you embrace community and experience satisfaction in your relationships. When entrepreneurs and experienced business professionals think of relationships as a key to the success of their company or organization, they usually think about their business relationships. These relationships are critical connections to their colleagues, team members, clients, customers, and business partners that are vital to moving forward. The mistake some people make, though, is thinking of those relationships as a one-dimensional plane of being purely gaining something out of it. Relationship development has a lot more depth to it than networking with people to further the business’s profits or an organization’s goals.

How does one establish the proper foundation for building healthy relationships?

A foundation of what I share with others is that fully realizing the potential of all relationships; one has to bring them down to a personal level. Too often, I have seen executives who look at their relationships as a purely practical exercise when they can get so much more out of them by taking the next step. For example, we all spend a great deal of time at work. Sometimes, we are with our colleagues at work more than we are with our families. Working most of the time is indeed not optimal, but it is the truth. This consideration begs the questions, “Why not have happy and meaningful relationships with our colleagues to create the fertile soil for collaborating, learning, improving, growing, advancing and succeeding together? Why not look forward to working every single day?”

Relationship building is like growing a plant in the garden, it’s not easy but rewarding. It doesn’t matter if it is in business or outside the scope of work. However, I believe a person can get better at anything if he or she mindfully apply themselves to learning how to do so. Not many of us are overnight successes at anything. Usually, it takes some work. By taking the time to learn how to build relationships, anybody can unlock the safe that leads to meeting goals at work and having an overall happy life.

And how do you build and maintain longevity in relationships?

If relationships are perfunctory and casual, they are going to fade away. By building and nourishing new and existing relationships, a person will have a vast array of resources around when looking for help or advice on a particular topic. You can be an independent and high-performing individual. At the same time, you can be part of a high performing team where independent individuals are interdependent and connected with each other When you have resonant relationships with your people you work with you:

· Improve morale for a team as a whole

· Create a more positive work environment resulting from improved confidence

· Reduce escapist behaviors like mind-wandering, extended coffee breaks, internet browsing and more

· Inspire happiness, active engagement and peak performance in employees leading to productivity and profits for the business

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” –Ryunosuke Satoro

Why do you think relationship building is prevalent among women, and particularly women entrepreneurs?

While women strive for equity in the workplace and their entrepreneurial efforts with men, it is also good to remember that there are differences between the genders. I am talking here in a comprehensive manner, but women tend to be all about the relationship. This fact is true in personal and business relationships. Women are more in tune with building and maintaining relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I know some men who are great at this and some women who are not, but women are wired at doing this better.

For example, I know groups of women who have been BFF’s since grammar school. We are talking 20, 30, 40-year relationships. The advantage women entrepreneurs have is that they can take this desire to build and keep relationships and apply it to the business world.

Whenever I coach a woman, she easily sees the advantage of taking any business relationship out of being a mere business contact and moving it up to the next level and getting to know that person better. A woman knows what a reciprocal relationship can bring into her life, so why not use the same principles in business?

Do you think that the concept of strategic and intentional relationship building can be equally effective regardless of gender?

In my observation, women are more comfortable with this concept, and once they understand its potential in business, they continually work on their relationship with others as well as seek out new ones. Relationship building is already part of their wheelhouse.

What I have seen is that as I have helped women tweak relationship building and how to make it more of an organic part of their daily life, they take off with the concept. I do find that in the beginning that a woman will tend to build their business relationships with other women, but they soon seek out and do the same with men. This can be the occasional minefield, but I encourage everyone to keep at it and learn from any mistakes. After all, if Edison would have quit after one attempt at the lightbulb, I might be writing this by candlelight!

I do want to say that I have seen men also run with the concept of relationship building. They too can become very natural at it, and it becomes part of who they are. However, sometimes it takes work to get to that point. Again, we can all use our strengths and weaknesses to our advantage. Women can take their power of relationship building and bring it into the business world. If it is a weakness for a man, or for a woman in all fairness, they can learn how to build meaningful relationships and mindfully apply these lessons until they get the hang of it.

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