The topic of relationships is prevalent in our house these days. Having teenagers brings the power of human connection front and center. Whether it’s highs and lows with friends, experiencing first loves or seeking to find common ground with parents, teens are on one hell of a relationship rollercoaster. And while it can be daunting as a parent, I’m also here for it. I see no more powerful force in life and business than the ties that bind us, which makes them totally worth the ride. 

Public. Relations. If you stop and think about those two words, it makes our profession pretty clear. Our job is forging and keeping relationships with our publics. Who are these publics? Well, they usually consist of colleagues, clients, media, influencers, partners, referral sources and vendors. As PR practitioners, it’s our job to flex and connect with different working styles, demands, industries and trends. At times, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting to be consistently striking the right chord. We have to find ways to recharge – whether that’s alone time or being with people that fill our cup outside of work – so that we can come back feeling strong and ready to be in “relationship” the next day. 

A few of my favorite pieces of relationship advice, whether you’re a teenager or seasoned PR pro:

  1. Work for tips. Seriously, waiting tables is the best training ground for going into the PR profession. Just like clients, diners want the end experience to exceed their expectations (and so do you because them being wowed equals a big tip!); customers will undoubtedly test your patience and make you get creative in figuring how to strike a rapport (no rapport equals very little tip!); and at the end of the night you hope you’ve left them wanting to make a reservation for a return visit (repeat customers means repeat tips!). 
  2. Talk it out. If a relationship matters enough to be in, then it should matter enough to talk about when the goings gets tough. Even if at the end of the conversation, the decision is that you really don’t dig each other anymore, at least you’ve addressed the issues and are leaving with your head held high. It’s also common courtesy. 
  3. Get in network. We all have a network. We all have friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and that person we see at the gym. You never know when you’ll need them or in what way. Whether it’s LinkedIn, emails, Snapchat or the annual family BBQ, keep your network thriving. 
  4. Be a bridge. I had a prospective employee rescind a job offer that they’d previously accepted, and at the end of the call they said, “I hope we stay in touch…I really don’t want to burn bridges.” Hmmm… Actions do matter and it’s hard to build things back once they’ve burned…so don’t light fires. There are ways to successfully handle nearly every situation by being thoughtful, respectful and always honest. 

We can’t be all things to all people, and yet, our ability to flex may actually be much greater than we realize. All we have to do is be willing to stretch.