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7 Rules of Engagement


We are all afraid for our confidence, for the future, for the world. That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do.  – Jacob Bronowski

On Nov 16th, 2010 we heard the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton were engaged to be married. Britain, and indeed the world, rejoiced at the news, because everyone loves a good romance that ends with the prince marrying the beautiful girl and living happily ever after. 

Kate wore Princess Diana’s engagement ring in memory of Williams’ famous late mother. 

That too had once been a world rocking announcement when Prince Charles got engaged to the lovely young Diana Spencer, some 30 years ago. 

Then too, the world had rejoiced and embraced the young girl and catapulted her to instant stardom.

And long after the rules of engagement had been broken and  that fairytale romance had sadly crumbled, the world still held Diana close to their hearts. 

What then are the real rules of engagement in any relationship – be it personal or professional, that results in a happy long term mutually successful one? 

There are 7 true Rules of Engagement. 

1. We engage with those we trust 

I once met a young speaker in his early twenties at a business event. He was young, personable and had, after a brief rough road, found success with Real Estate investing at an early age. Someone that everyone wanted to emulate. 

However having broken into the seminar circuit, he charged exorbitant sums of money for his tutelage and expected loyalty from those who engaged in trust with him and his services, without honouring the trust that had been placed in him. 

In very short order, this promising young man lost his popularity and fell in the esteem of the masses and he is now trying to rebuild that trust, having learnt his lesson. But this time it will be a long uphill battle. 

We hear that the young royal couple have signed a pre-nuptial agreement. It may be “good business sense” as also exemplified by the numerous legal contracts and self-protective clauses in today’s business world. 

However, whichever way you look at it, this does not bode well for the trust factor. 

2. We engage because of Love 

Now that is not a word that is not often heard of in business circles because it tends to be relegated to the realm of personal, intimate relationships. 

However if a person does not truly love what he is doing, and is doing what he does just for the money or thrill of it, the other party, our customers , often sense it and begin to disengage  long before  the business relationship evaporates.

Ditto for marriages. 

3. We engage because we seek to share and add value to each other

Each person or company has his/its own value to contribute to a relationship or a business deal. However this value must exist on both sides of the equation. If either party gives more than the other, this can be sustained only for a short while. 

For example if a company gives real value in serving it’s customers, but they do not pay on time, or fail to recognize the quality of the service, then that relationship will inevitable fail. 

The reverse is also true, if a client pays good money and places its trust in an organization that fails to deliver a return value, the relationship will end in a professional divorce. 

For a relationship to last there should be a mutual sharing of value even if it is not equal. 

4.  We engage with those we respect and feel respected by 

In personal or business relationships, we will always reserve a part of ourselves when we feel disrespected and not honoured for who we are. 

The moment we see ourselves being manipulated for the benefit of the other party, with no consideration of mutual wellbeing or profit, we retreat with instant hesitation to commit to a longer relationship. 

5.  We engage because we are committed to each other 

Every relationship is certain to have its ups and downs, its failures and successes, its joys and disappointments. Why should business relationships differ- we are, after all, only human, even though we often hide behind a “professional demeanour”. 

Our experience with some customers has stood the test of time, because despite some hits and misses, in the long run, it is because of the quality of mutual commitment to each other’s business goals that the relationship has endured. 

6.  We engage when we know that we cannot prosper without each other 

Just like in a romantic relationship, when each knows that while they can live entirely fulfilled lives without each other, there comes a turning point when each realizes that they will be far more effective together rather than by themselves. This is, traditionally, when they decide to “marry”. 

The same is true for business ventures – two companies come together because of a need that can be met only through collaboration or an exchange of services. The quality of this relationship will determine the future of the joint venture. 

7. We engage when the other party’s success becomes more more important than our own 

We invest emotionally in our personal relationships far more than we invest in our professional ones. 

However at the end of the day, there is really hardly any difference. When we are focused on our customer’s success, everything else falls into place. It seems like a simple enough thing to do, but it is a critical element of a healthy enduring partnership. 

Of course, as the world knows Diana and Charles’s relationship was a sham. He was doing his so-called duty in providing Britain with an heir and in the process did not care about what it might do to Diana’s hopes and dreams. 

Young William seems to be more aware and conscientious about seeking to build his marriage on a real relationship. The world eagerly awaits the royal wedding scheduled to take place in a few weeks, and hopes that this time it will be a fairytale come true in more than just the appearance of it. 

Diana continued to engage with the world and in so doing has become immortal and the world’s relationship with her has endured despite her untimely death. 

The times may have changed but the Rules of Engagement remain the same for Business and Relationships. How engaged are you?

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Categories : Business


  1. Iona says:

    Hello! Very valuable tip on this post! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Thank you a lot for sharing!

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