Three Questions that will Determine the Future of Your Relationships

“Some people enter our lives and leave almost instantly; others stay and forge such an impression on our heart and soul, we are changed forever.”
Author Unknown


The research on Emotional Intelligence is irrefutable. The skills of Social Awareness and Relationship Management will have a bigger impact on your personal happiness and professional success than almost any other skills you will ever learn. And yet the average person is taught more about planning a wedding than making a marriage last, and the average professional is given more product knowledge than people skills. It’s insane.

So what can you do to improve your relationships?

1. Have fun, but don’t joke around when you’ve got serious relationship problems.

Of course have fun. Every good and healthy relationship on and off the job has an element of fun. It SHOULD be fun to work with or live with the other people in your life.

And you can find examples of fun or playful teasing everywhere. For instance, I found these newspaper headlines referring to various relationships … all having a bit of fun with the way they worded the headlines.

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Statistics Show Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25
Scientists Plan Mission To Probe Uranus
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
One Armed Man Applauds the Kindness of Strangers
Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped
Woman Gets Shot on Lottery Show

On the other hand, if you’ve got some relationship problems, that’s NOT the time to be joking about it. The comedian Rodney Dangerfield made his living by talking about the fact he never got any respect from anyone. He said, “When I was born, the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, “I’m very sorry. We did everything we could … but he pulled through.” Later, when he was married, he said, “My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.” Even his dog felt that way. As Dangerfield put it, “With my dog I don’t get no respect. He keeps barking at the front door. He doesn’t want to go out. He wants me to leave.”

When you’ve got some relationship areas that need improvement, that’s one of the times you should be using the Brave Question technique … which I’ve written about on several occasions. It has the power to transform your relationships. Check out my book, “The Brave Question Payoff” by going to the eStore.

You see … nobody has a perfect relationship. There’s always room for improvement. That’s why I devote the entire second day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program to mastering the people skills that have proven to work with coworkers, teammates, colleagues, customers and even family members. As Ken March, a Director at Bain Capital, recommends, you take the class saying, “Whether you are building self-esteem or improving your professional or personal relationships, Dr. Zimmerman provided a superb class that will take you from ordinary to extraordinary. The two days were lots of fun, very enlightening, and powerfully effective.”

The second thing you should be doing to improve your relationships is…

2. Don’t confuse the “important” people in THE world with the “relevant” people in YOUR life.

If you’re not sure of the difference, please take a moment to take this quiz.

  • Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  • Name the last five Pulitzer Prize winners.
  • Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.
  • Name the last five people who have won the Nobel Prize.
  • Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor and best actress.
  • Name the last ten World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is “none of us remember the headliners of yesterday” even though these people are/were the best in their fields and some of the most “important” people in THE world. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one.

  • List four teachers who made a positive difference in your journey through school.
  • Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  • Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  • List five people who have made or make you feel appreciated and special.
  • List five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier? The lesson is simple but critical. The people who make a difference in YOUR life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that CARE.

As you pursue relationships or build relationships on and off the job, don’t be blinded by the glitz of the “important” people. Focus your energies of the “relevant” people that make life worth living.

3. Ask the three BIG questions.

Business mogul Warren Buffet is one of the best-known and most successful investors in the world today. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, has grown from a few private clients with modest holdings to a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Mr. Buffet is famous for careful analysis and for investing in long-term opportunities. He spends considerable time meeting key people in the organization, getting to know how they run their business, and how they treat their staff, suppliers, and clients.

When his analysis is completed, Buffet asks himself three questions concerning the key people: “Do I like them? Do I trust them? Do I respect them?” If any one of the questions results in a “No,” the deal is off. It doesn’t matter how good the numbers looks or the potential for growth.

These three simple powerful questions are the foundation for Warren Buffet’s relationships. Adopt them as your own. They will ultimately determine how rich your relationships become.


Who are the most “relevant” people in your life? And what will you do to make them feel more “important”?