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The Difference Between Interactions and Relationships

It is important to understand the difference between an interaction and a relationship as you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry. I defined interacting as “the degree to which you engage one-to-one with colleagues.” While interactions are one way to raise your visibility, it is inevitable that some interactions will begin to build a relationship.

Relationship is one of those words that we use often, yet we find it hard to define when asked. Consider the following as a definition for “relationship:”

“A relationship is a series of interactions where a dependency and/or an expectation is created.”

You will quickly note that relationships are actually comprised of interactions. To become a relationship, however, these interactions need to create a dependency or an expectation between two or more individuals. As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, some of your interactions will lead to the creation of a dependency and/or an expectation and some will not.

Jathan Janove is a successful attorney, author, speaker, and consultant, and each of these roles has required him to interact with colleagues in a variety of ways. Through these experiences, Jathan has built a rich perspective on the difference between interacting and building relationships. “People aren’t interested in what you are selling or what you need. People are interested in building a relationship that is mutually satisfying and beneficial. The focus of the interaction shouldn’t just be me or you, but us. I get to the ‘us’ by focusing more on the other person, asking questions, and offering ways to help them. They feel better by doing the same, and the next thing you know, a relationship is born.” I’ve known Jathan for over ten years and my interactions with him have never felt like networking. Needless to say, Jathan excels at building relationships.

For employed business professionals, some interactions will lead to relationships, while other interactions will lead to more interactions. Regardless of where your interactions take you, additional interactions and relationships all start with interactions; not with networking, not with relationships, but with interactions.


Raise Your Visibility & Value: Uncover the Lost Art of Connecting on the Job is available

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Ed Evarts is the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development, an organization focused on coaching mid- to senior- level leaders and their teams in business environments. With over twenty-five years of innovative leadership and management experience, Ed possesses the ability to build awareness, create action, and deliver results. Known for his business acumen, his ability to resolve complex human relations issues, and his enthusiastic, accessible and responsive style, Ed partners with managers, leaders and business teams to explore clarity and communication, and traverse conflict and change.