We are constantly told that in this economy people are looking to build relationships. They want to do business with those they like and trust. It makes perfect sense to me.
Recently on my honeymoon trip to Italy, I was constantly reminded how relationships are everything. In the small towns, people waited to see if you were staying for a day or a week. The longer you stayed, the stronger the relationship. They smiled more and welcomed you into their business as part of their tight knit community.
In the larger cities, the concept of relationship building was more important and also more obvious. I took my new husband and some friends to a family owned restaurant that I frequented with my children a few years ago. It took the owners a few minutes to remember this crazy American but as soon as they did, we were family and the relationship grew to include my husband and friends. I brought in pictures of my last visit there and before you knew it my iPad was all around the restaurant showing my pictures and now adding new ones to the collection. A family album was now created and the promise of emailing on a regular basis is in the plan.
But, it was never more obvious when a waiter named Franco built an immediate relationship with us within seconds. Rather than saying good afternoon and take our order, he asked where we were from. When we said Texas, he pulled facts from his memory bank about Texas, friends that he has there, cities that he was familiar with and showed us his bracelet from the university of Texas with the saying “hook ’em horns” and added y’all to his sentences. But, we weren’t the only couple he embraced. Everyone that walked into this restaurant he built a new relationship with simply by asking that same question….where are you from? He had a fact, saying, sports team or other fact that he pulled up. You immediately felt like he was a friend.When we left he said his goodbye and see y’all but the most interesting part was an hour or two later we walked past the restaurant and he called to us by name…..
It’s all about relationships and that is true with so many cultures around the world.