Read about relationship-building in business, what it means and how to be better at it.

Read the text and then do the exercises.

What do we mean by relationship-building?

When we talk about the competency of relationship-building in the world of business, we are referring to building strong relationships with partners and clients – about using interpersonal skills to network in an effective way.

What does a competent relationship-builder do?

Somebody who is competent at relationship-building focuses on understanding the needs of the client and getting the best possible results. This competency promotes an ethic of client service and so an understanding and anticipation of a client’s changing needs is essential. Stress and conflict are other issues that a competent relationship-builder will manage - keeping composed and acting as mediator when conflicts arise.

How can I start to develop the competency of relationship-building?

First identify the business plan goals of your department and decide what your role is going to be in helping to achieve those goals. You will need to study the business plan and learn as much as possible about your clients’ activities, interests and needs. This information might be available in their own annual reports or in client surveys conducted by your company. Talking to your clients about how you can best meet their needs is also a sensible first step to take.

Seven steps to becoming an effective relationship-builder:

  1. Draw up a plan of what you need to do in order to give your clients what they want. Discuss your ideas with your line manager and then do what is necessary to implement the plan.
  2. When the plan has been set in motion, schedule regular meetings with your line manager to review the progress that you are making and make any necessary adjustments.
  3. When you are working as part of a team or group within a department or a company it is important to assess your contribution to the group’s work. Think about how your efforts help or hinder progress.
  4. Make a weekly analysis of your commitments. Set yourself a goal for each week so that you follow them through. Make an effort to do what you say you are going to do – and also, to do it by the time that you say it will be done. If you get into the habit of doing this it will become like second nature.
  5. Build up a file of contacts and classify them in a way that is meaningful for your particular work context. Then you will know exactly who to call with any queries or when you need information.
  6. Don’t just wait for feedback to come to you, request it from a variety of sources – from your line manager but also from colleagues, clients and people who you supervise. Listen to what they have to say and act accordingly.
  7. Build informal relationships with the people who are working around you. Make a point of greeting people who you normally don’t speak to. Ask them about their interests and make it a goal to practise small talk with them. Listen to what they say and remember so that you can ask about a particular interest the next time you meet.


Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2


To my mind be competent at relationship-building means be focused on understanding the needs of the client and getting the best possible results. I think by far the most negative tendency in business interpersonal relations is the emotional abuse, and is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize. That means the use of abusive words and bulling behaviours that wear down a person’s self-esteem and undermine their mental health. My tip if I feel wounded, frustrated, confused, misunderstood, depressed, anxious or worthless any time I interact, changes are high that my relationship is emotionally abusive, and to take control of my life again, take care of my needs. I walk away from the situation if I can. Engaging with an abuser only sets me up for more abuse and heartache.

Relationships are important between humans and in all places . Work relationships help us to do better it, develop our functions very well and be in healthy.

Hi all
We can say that the good communication will bring a great effect in relationship building ..and the 7 steps depend on the person communication skills ...if you communicate with the people this mean that you are developing.

This was a great test for my reading comprehension skills. I got a mistake at the True or False part because I tried to answer the tasks without reading the article again well, except for the first task. But double checking the article, I readily found the answers to every item. I hope there will be more tests like this.

Hi Claire de Lune,

Thanks very much for telling us that you found this article useful. I also wanted to tell you that we are working on lots of new articles. We hope to start publishing them in a new Reading skills section in the next few months, so please keep an eye out for them.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Business English for Banking Managers:
Do you have any lessons of this kind? For Level B1/B2

Hello Redrita54,

There are couple of free British Council MOOCs (see the two courses with 'workplace' in the title on our MOOCs page) that you might want to look into, but I'm afraid we do not have any course here on LearnEnglish that is so specialised.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

well done

Hi. I got two TRUE FALSE questions wrong ...

3) A good relationship-builder has a network of mediators for when conflicts arise.

6) Idle chat is not a good way to get to know your colleagues.

Could you please explain >>?

Hello hi.sherif,

Could you please explain to us what answers you chose and why? We can then correct your mistakes based on that.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team