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  • Writer's pictureL. Darryl Armstrong

It’s all about relationships – Dealing with difficult people – Bluegrass PRSA June

If there is one thing that seems to have gotten lost as we advance up the ladder of management in the practice of management, public relations, customer relations, environmental communications or community relations it is well, the “relations” part.

It makes no difference if we are managing an environmental project; conducting a public meeting; or simply trying to get along with a fellow employee we are faced daily with situations that if not handled properly can escalate into aggression and ultimately even violence. No business or public sector is immune to aggression. People who understand how to develop relationships and handle anger, aggression and conflict and even prevent it will excel at whatever they do.

Perhaps this situation today is simply a function of our business and personal worlds. Maybe we have become so focused on meeting deadlines; designing and packaging messages; “spinning” those messages for the media; keeping our bosses happy; avoiding conflict and controversy; and ensuring as much of the controversy is kept below the radar as possible that we have forgotten that we can’t really do any of this effectively unless we have a relationship with the people we are working with in order to get the work accomplished.

Relationships exist at all levels of business and life. Take for example when recently I was at the Renaissance Marriott at LAX Airport. It is 3 a.m. and I have had no sleep due to some kind of “bug” and I have to be on a plane to fly in less than 6-hours. My wife calls the front desk to ask if they have access to anything such as Alka Seltzer or Pepto. They tell her they don’t BUT their doorman is getting ready to go on break and they will check to see if he is willing to take time to go several blocks away to pick some up at an all night drug store.

Enter Joseph.  Joseph takes his break to help me a guest he has never even met. Within 15-minutes I have some over-the-counter meds delivered by a young man with a smile on his face and compassion and empathy for my plight. Later this same young man ensures our luggage is squared away and we are off to the airport.

I can attest without his compassion and empathy for me and his willingness to extend himself on his break – develop a temporal relationship –  I would have never made the plane that day.

Joseph develops relationships with his guests. He sees them not as just paying customers of a large chain hotel, he sees them and treats them as “guests” and his commitment to developing such relationships will carry him upward to many places in life.

I am not sure you can teach such a philosophy although I continue to try. One thing is for sure, Joseph has developed a life-long relationship with me and this Marriott will have me as a life-long guest.

Learn more about developing relationships when I speak at the Bluegrass Chapter Public Relations Society meeting on Thursday, June 16. Learn more at:

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