I have a habit of being blunt. Sometimes, it has hurt me and other times, it has made all of the difference in the world. Regardless of your style, you need to be straight and genuine if you are going to forge unbreakable relationships. I knew that Carol Roth and I were going to get along from the moment we met because we both subscribe to this philosophy and approach. I met Carol on Twitter in a way that probably would not be your first guess. Carol is a rabid Bears fan and I… well, let’s just say the Patriots organization runs through my blood. However, the thought of Bears/Patriots sends chills up my spine because of a miserable Sunday in the mid-eighties. That same day brings sheer delight to Carol, because her Bears clobbered my Pats in Super Bowl XX.

Even though Carol and I were on opposite sides of the ball that day (and every time our two teams meet), there is a great appreciation for each other due to the fact that we both understand each other’s joy and pain when it comes to our teams. The fact of the matter is that you do not have to have the same likes and dislikes in order to get along in business; you just need a genuine respect for each other. There is a misconception that relationships are typically built on time and commonality. That can be true, but it doesn’t have to be the case, and in business, it shouldn’t be the case. In our book, Winning the Customer, we dedicate an entire section on the importance of building relationships by design, rather than through time and commonality alone. We describe this practice as Relationship Architecture.

Skeptics may question, “What’s straight and genuine about that if it’s by design?” I would say that planning and preparation is the entire point in business; the separating factor for a true Relationship Architect is that it is done in a real way and not with sales-oriented ulterior motives. Planning prior to meeting with folks is just a smart way of doing business. Knowing the preferences of those you are trying to do business with is not phony at all. Football teams practice and prepare six days to play one game on Sunday. That preparation is necessary to win. In order to build unbreakable business relationships, you must address every encounter in the same manner. Being prepared is very different from being phony.

The fact is that people can see right through you when you are not genuine, so why bother? Be genuinely prepared. Use the information you have to be thoughtful and direct, but also let people know who you really are. That, for the most part, will lead to unbreakable relationships. Sure, at times it can also lead to no relationship, but sometimes folks just don’t gel, which is real as well.

There are too many phonies in the world; that shouldn’t be your mode of operation to close business. Invest in the relationship in a genuine way and you will reap the rewards. There is nothing phony about Carol and that’s why I dig her (even if she is a Bears fan).

How do you deal with prospects or customers who have different interests? Have you been able to build lasting relationships with them? Do you have some strategies to share? We would love to hear them in the comments below!