Written By: Chris Enger
What are the qualities that distinguish a normal relationship from a genuine relationship? We all have relationships of varying degrees like, family, spouse, co-workers, clients, neighbors, etc. What makes these relationships genuine?
Amazon is releasing a new show based on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien which got me thinking about the relationships found in his amazing work of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings. In this story, the protagonist, a simple and diminutive hobbit named Frodo Baggins is given a perilous quest that takes him throughout the realm of Middle Earth to destroy the ring of power.
For those unfamiliar with the books or movies, I could go into exquisite detail about this story, but for the purpose of this article, I want to pinpoint the relationships Frodo has with other characters in the book and what qualities made these relationships genuine. Frodo is tasked to destroy this ring with the help of several characters of different fantastical races: a wizard named Gandalf, a future king named Aragorn, and Frodo’s best friend, a hobbit named Samwise.
Gandalf is arguably one of the most powerful characters in The Lord of the Rings, yet he shows respect towards those he could easily control, and he empowers those who, some would say, are unfit to lead. Understanding the importance and difficulty in their quest, he still allows the least powerful among the group to lead the quest and bear the weight of the ring. Gandalf aids, he councils, he helps but never overtakes the responsibilities given to Frodo in leading the quest. There is a mutual respect between the two character, where at times, it feels that Gandalf learns more about Frodo by watching and guiding him through this quest.
Like Gandalf and Frodo exemplify, respecting each other is one quality of a genuine relationship. If our customers don’t feel we respect their voice, their ideas, their needs, why would they want to continue doing business with us? Treating each customer with the respect they deserve will keep that relationship in good standing regardless of business created.
What makes that relationship more genuine is trying to lift the burden off our customers while showing concern for their needs.
Another character who could easily take control of the traveling fellowship is the future king Aragorn from the race of men. It wouldn’t be perceived as an injustice if he were to take control of the ring and the party in their quest, but he trusts not only Frodo, but Gandalf and the created fellowship.
In the movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, there’s a moment as their fellowship is breaking apart that Frodo offers the ring of power to Aragorn. Aragorn, realizing the temptation involved in this choice, closes Frodo’s hand over the ring and says he would follow him to the ends of the earth. This moment (juxtaposed with another character from the fellowship’s attempt to steal the ring) proves to Frodo that Aragorn could have been trusted throughout the entire journey.
One very important quality in a genuine relationship is the ability to trust one another. Without trust, the relationship is simply superficial. Trust with the customer allows for freedom of ideas to be shared and implemented, timetables adhered to, and correction discussed when needed without fear of reprisal or dishonor.
The character who completes the entire quest with Frodo is his lifelong friend, Samwise Gamgee. What separates Samwise’s relationship from the rest of the fellowship is his compassion and concern for his friend. He continually tries to lift the burden from Frodo.
At times our relationships with our customers seem more transactional than not in trying to close the deal. What makes that relationship more genuine is trying to lift the burden off our customers while showing concern for their needs. This doesn't mean we place Med One in peril in trying to help our customers, but expressing empathy and concern helps to elevate our relationship from a normal to a genuine relationship.
Spoiler Alert: Frodo completes his quest, and the Ring of Power is destroyed, but the power that guided and helped Frodo were the relationships he made along the way and those relationships were fortified with trust, respect, and concern.