Skip to main content

“Business is a series of relationships, and the quality of the business is directly proportional to the quality of the relationships.”

I’m not sure if Maurice, the consultant I met from India, was the first to say this. But when I heard him say it, it was the first time I had heard it.

And it has stuck with me these 25-plus years since.

When I was growing up, I remember going to the gas station with my father. He commented on the rude gas station attendant who washed our windshield. He said that the man probably would never get a better job than that because, unfortunately, he had no idea how to relate to people.

It has been said that kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. As I look back over my life and think of my second grade teacher, I remember a very kind, yet somewhat demanding white-haired woman. I never doubted her love for her students. In my eyes, each of us seemed special to her. Somehow her way of being with us made me decide at that young age that I wanted to be a teacher just like her.

She had a wonderful sense of humor, and even when she corrected me, it was always with a loving twinkle in her eye. She had our respect, and she seemed to have our hearts as well. After all my years of schooling and classes and teachers, no teacher stands out more than my second grade teacher.

Relationships can be experienced on many levels, and they can be developed over seconds or decades. We develop a relationship of sorts by how we interact with the clerk at the grocery checkout, whom we may never see again. Or we may develop a long-standing relationship with another worker whose life becomes intertwined with our own.

Family members and friends come in all levels of relationship. Our relationship with God is one that supersedes them all.

As I think of relationships and teaching, it is clear that if we do not trust the teacher, the odds of learning taking place are slim. What constitutes a relationship? Is it just trust? Or is it kindness such as my teacher demonstrated to me? Or can it be simply the belief that another person cares for you?

There are many questions surrounding this subject. Many I cannot answer. But after sixty years of loving teaching, I do know one thing. What Maurice said about business is also true in teaching. Just replace the word “business” with the word “teaching.”

“Teaching is a series of relationships, and the quality of the teaching is directly proportional to the quality of the relationships.”