Ideas, Information & Inspiration

Respect and Relationships in Business

15 mins
What You Will Learn
  • Importance of Respect and Relationships
  • Benefits of being Respectful in a Negotiation
  • How Respect and Relationships Lead to Win-Win Outcomes
  • Tips to Show your Respect and Build a Relationship
by Marcus Business Team
Here’s a tip for small businesses
“...businesses are based on relationships and relationships are based on people.”

As important as your sales are, your connections are what make your business great. As Marcus tells us, “businesses are based on relationships and relationships are based on people.” That’s why each person you interact with daily should know that you value a strong, healthy relationship in business.

This not only applies to clients and suppliers but your employees, too. When you show that you have respect in business for everyone in your circle, your relationships will grow naturally and bear fruit in the form of sales, growth, and success.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find Out What it Means For Your Business Relationships

No doubt you already know the importance of showing respect and building positive relationships in your life. That’s something most of us learn in kindergarten. Respect in business is just an extension of those lessons you learned as a child. You are trying to understand where the person you are dealing with is coming from and what their motivation is. Imagine if you went to a meeting and the person sitting across the table from you didn’t listen to a word you said. You would probably stand up and leave. In other words, treat others as you would like to be treated.

Purple and pink shopping bags

For example, you have probably heard the common complaint that people shouldn’t have to brave Black Friday crowds to get the best prices. Sporting goods retailer REI listened to that customer demand and closed their stores on Black Friday, even though their competitors would remain open. The move showed that REI respects its customers and wanted to treat them with dignity, and it paid off big. At the end of that year, REI had a 9.3 percent increase in revenue and digital sales rose 23 percent. (Trevail, Austin, Schlack, Lerman, 2016).

Marcus frequently tells entrepreneurs to focus on people, process, and product. Note the order of those words. Marcus starts with what will make or break any small business. It’s all about people. When you nurture a positive relationship in business by showing respect, success will follow.

The three Ps of business.
The three Ps of business.

In Negotiations, You Get What You Give

By showing respect in business, even when you are hashing out a major deal, you maximize your chances of having a win-win negotiation. Even your competitors deserve to have a positive relationship in business with you. Too often, small business owners and entrepreneurs try too hard to win at everything. As Marcus says, “The key to business isn’t being smarter or wealthier, it’s being able to connect to people and relate to them.”

People handshaking on a stack of money to make a deal

Established trust is the cornerstone of respect in business and will lead to a win-win negotiation. Before you enter into a negotiation, take a moment to evaluate your relationship with the other person. You have to consider their honesty, ethics, and dignity. They will be doing the same with you. Transparency and openness will lead to having a better relationship in business. A great example of this was when Marcus visited the owners of a successful barbecue buffet restaurant in the south. From the moment Marcus arrived, there was an instant layer of respect and trust, which went both ways. The owners had an incredible amount of respect and trust in Marcus.

They knew how successful he had been in business and understood the kinds of opportunities he could bring to the table. And Marcus took an instant liking to the owners, who were honest, passionate, and hard working. You could even say these qualities were their “secret sauce” to running a successful barbecue restaurant. At the end of the day, an offer was made and accepted. It was a win-win negotiation for sure because of the trust that was established from the start.

You may be asking why it’s so important to have a win-win negotiation. When companies only focus on winning, it doesn’t show respect in business.

Business people holding up giant chess pieces to come to an agreement

Instead, it displays a lack of creative thinking, and it boxes people into a corner. Allowing both sides to have what they need lowers the possibility of one party backing out at the last minute. You have to value what your negotiating partner brings to the table. Negotiation shouldn’t be a battle. That’s why a win-win negotiation is the only path to follow if you want to maintain a good relationship in business.

Marcus puts it this way. “The best deals are when both parties that come to an agreement feel just a little uncomfortable.” That’s because there shouldn’t be a big winner and a big loser.

Four Fast Ways You Can Show Respect in Your Negotiation

1. Tell the Truth

As Marcus says, “people respect you more if they get the truth as opposed to a bunch of fluff.” When you give people nothing but honesty, there’s nothing to hide. Demand the same from the people you deal with.

2. Be Yourself

Don’t try to emulate anyone else because it will come back to bite you. You won’t fool anyone by taking on a different persona, and it may seem as if you have a lack of confidence in yourself. Remember how Marcus puts it. “It is OK in business, no matter what anybody tells you, to be yourself.”

Man sitting the hands of a clock

3. Lose Your Ego

If you walk into a room and demand everything you want without listening to your negotiating partner, you’re sinking any opportunity at achieving a win-win negotiation. It doesn’t show respect in business.

Instead, listen and react to what the other side is saying. This isn’t all about you. It’s a relationship in business, and it’s wise to treat it as such.

4. It’s All About Timing

Don’t rush to finish a deal or walk away from the table. A win-win negotiation takes time, and there will be moments when it feels like things are happening too quickly or too slowly. Feel the process’s rhythm and don’t be afraid to sleep on a decision before you finalize anything. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, the studio responsible for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and many other successful films, from director George Lucas in 2012, it resulted from almost a year and a half of negotiations. Lucas and Disney CEO Bob Iger personally sat down and hashed out the details themselves. Iger described the lengthy negotiations this way, “There was a lot of trust there.” (Elsey, 2018).

The four fast ways you can show respect in your negotiation.
The four fast ways you can show respect in your negotiation.

Four Ways You Can Build a Respectful Relationship

1. Show Loyalty and Back People Up

As we know from Marcus, “people are the most important thing.” So don’t engage in gossip or share industry secrets. Show people that you have their best interests at heart. You never know who will be in a position to help you in the future. Lay the groundwork of respect in business early. Even when dealing with competitors, your support will only make you more impressive in their eyes, boosting your chances of a win-win negotiation should that situation ever arise.

People drinking wine at table to build relationship

2. Go and Have Some Fun

Getting out of the office and getting to know the person you are building a relationship in business with shows that you want to know them better. It could be the old-standby of a round of golf, but don’t let tradition get in your way. Ask what kinds of music they’re into and see a show. Or grab a bite to eat at a new restaurant in your area. Treat it as a way to show you respect them as a person, not just as an asset to a company.

3. Advertise Yourself

Display your business ethics online through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or even Tik Tok. Allow your staff to have fun with the posts. Show the world what you stand for through blog postings and pictures of happy staff members. The easiest way to build trust with someone is to let them get to know you and your business. You could also contribute to local charities or fun-runs. That will allow you to network with like-minded members of your community, which may lead to a relationship in business.

4. Find Some Common Ground

When making friends, you look for people with the same taste in music, art, sports, or politics. When you build a relationship in business, look for how the other person treats people in their circle. How do they present themselves? Do their values match your own? If not, reconsider whether or not they deserve respect in business. Only surround yourself with good people.

List of ways to build a respectful relationship.
List of ways to build a respectful relationship.

“When You Shake Somebody’s Hand, It’s Got to Mean Something”-Marcus.

Long-lasting business relationships are built on trust and respect. If you believe in yourself, the products you are offering, and run your business authentically, you set yourself up for success. Remember always to enter a business deal to achieve a win-win negotiation, strengthen your ties to people you do business with, and be yourself. Then, when you shake someone’s hand at a negotiating table, it’ll mean that you respect your relationship.

  1. How do you currently establish respect during your negotiations?
  2. Which tips from the above can you leverage at the start of your next negotiation?
Photo of Marcus Lemonis
  • Elsey, W. (2018, March 12). Soft skills for the art of a successful negotiation.
    Retrieved from

  • Trevail, C., Austin, M., Wittes Schlack, J., & Lerman, K. (2016, November 1). The brands that make customers feel respected.
    Retrieved from