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How To Build Powerful Professional Relationships

Back in my oh-so-awkward high school days, I remember looking around at those cool kids and wondering, what – exactly – they were doing to be so tubular. (Well, probably they weren’t using the word “tubular,” for starters.)

And this inquiry didn’t stop once I graduated high school or college or even beyond that. I was happy enough with the friendships I had, but there was always this seemingly ambitious group of people who continued to make strides. I’d try to converse with them and be flooded with anxiety, realizing that I didn’t really have anything of substance to offer them. In truth, I largely kept myself away from successful others because I was at a loss about how to engage.

I know. I know. We can have a rousing debate about what it means to be “successful”. I’ll leave that debate to be taking up by you and your therapist. But I will say this, when I refer to successful people, I mean people who have the capacity to set a goal and then take the steps to achieve that goal. They have fulfilling relationships. Their conversations are spent less on complaints or gossip or airing their frustrations about their significant others and primarily focused on creativity, expansion and joy.

Nope – these aren’t fantasy people. They actually exist! In fact, somehow, to my surprise, I have eked my way into this delightful club.

But it wasn’t easy, nor – I must say – was impossible.

I so often hear from ya’ll in private practice who talk about the difficulties of creating a successful business – the constant fear, the stress, the overwhelm. It makes it seem like frenzy, anxiety and poverty are synonymous with practice building.

But, I also hear that you want something different for yourself and your practice. You would love to be surrounded by those people who are actually making it happen-  who are truly enjoying their businesses, setting clear boundaries with time, attracting the clients who feel wonderful to work with and are even setting their sights on the next big thing beyond working exclusively in the one-to-one private practice model.

Ooh, damn. What might it be like to sit down for a nice glass of wine and learn from someone like that?!

Then you look around you, and there is literally no one you can think of who falls into that camp. Which then leads you to raise a skeptical eyebrow and scroll your cursor dangerously close to the “x” at the top of your browser window.

But wait!

Today I’m here to tell you how you can, not only find these mystical creates of private practice ease, but also learn from then and even (*gasp*) build real, honest to goodness friendships with them.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at the way our relationships can have a huge impact on our ability to live fulfilling, kind, thoughtful and – yes, wealthy – lives.

This week, I want to give you a couple of tips to help you in your quest to build relationships that truly support the growth of your business (and your self). These relationships challenge your limiting beliefs, rather than reinforce them, and ask you to be step fully into your potential so you can make a greater impact in the long run.

How to Build Relationships with Successful Colleagues

Seek a Dissenting Voice: Look for people who disagree with you. I don’t mean that one person in your community who simply challenges everything anyone says as a personal mission (you know who I mean). Rather, look for those people who you respect, whose work ethic you admire, whose relationships seem un-conflicted and peaceful. Those are the ones from whom you have something to learn. If they highlight an area of growth or challenge your viewpoint, take heed, try to be curious.

Look to be Un-Validated: Seek out people who don’t rush to soothe away your difficult emotions. Unless these folks are sociopaths (and you know the difference), chances are they truly understand what it means to struggle, sit in the struggle and move beyond it. Your accusation that they don’t understand you if they don’t rush to soothe you is misplaced and dismissive of their experience. Trust that they do know what it means to feel hurt, betrayal and devastation – and then open yourself to curiosity about how they live gracefully even so.

Ask the Most Important Questions: When someone gives you a piece of feedback that stings, even something so simply as pointing out your poor web design, don’t start with justifications. Start with a question, “What do you mean?” or “What might you change?” This is not easy, especially when you’ve put a lot of work into being a particular way. But, it’s worth it.

BE the Change: Be the kind of friend you’d like to have. If you want someone to call you on your shit, start doing that for the people around you. If you want more friends who are holding themselves accountable for making changes, start holding yourself accountable first.

Get Your Own Therapist: If you find yourself collapsing without constant validation from friends or partners or, quite frankly most people around you – then definitely seek out a therapist. If you (like many of us) had early experiences of being psychologically missed, then it’s likely you’re continuing to seek mirroring from people whose job is not to mirror you. This constant demand that external relationships provide you with safety and attunement is interfering with your capacity to develop rich professional ties. A therapist can provide you with the consistent support you need, so that you can approach other relationships with something something beyond the need to be safe and seen.


photo credits: rawpixelIon Chiosea

How To Build Powerful Professional Relationships

APA Reference
McLain, T. (2017). How To Build Powerful Professional Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from