Often we don't take the time to really think about our relationships with the people outside of our immediate family and close friends. By these I mean the relationships we have with staff, customers, suppliers, professional advisers and pretty much anyone else who is a part of our business.

Sometimes we spend more time with these people than with our families yet we don't really think about the health and status of these relationships. Every relationship will at some stage run its course and it is better for everyone to act on this as early as possible. In many instances it is simply a matter of one party out growing the other.

A while back I made up a list of the key people in my business world. It was a long list, but I narrowed it down to the 20 most influential people. The list included professional advisers, clients, staff, suppliers and so on. Next to each name I added three columns. In one column I wrote what I liked about the relationship, in the second column I noted problems in the relationship and in the last column I described how I would like the relationship to change.

This exercise had four very specific outcomes:

  1. Firstly it made me take the time to stop and actually think about each relationship and the state it was in.
  2. Secondly, it made me appreciate the aspects of the relationships that I liked.
  3. At the same time it also let me put into words what I didn't like.
  4. And finally, it enabled me to clarify how I would like these relationships to evolve in the future. Or if in fact any of them needed to come to an end.

Often this simple act of analysis will solve many frustrations that you may be experiencing in a relationship. All too often we let issues with people continue for far longer than we should, simply because we don't actually focus any attention on it, other than the day to day tasks.

At the same time, this exercise is a very good way to actually gain a deeper appreciation of the people in our lives. For me it was a very good reminder of the important people in my business life who I was taking for granted and I had the chance to do something about it. I had some very honest and open conversations about appreciation and gratitude.

After some practice you may find that you can do a relationship audit in your head, without the need to write it down. It is a quick and effective tool for clarifying why some relationships aren't working and what you need to do about it.

The people in our life have the greatest impact on our success. Sometimes we forget this. Maybe it's time for you to do a relationship audit and take the right action as a result.