On Relationship Hygiene

The word hygiene means keeping things clean so that they remain healthy. You have to invest time in relationships if you want to maintain them, if you want to keep them clean.

Trust and Commitments

The foundation of all relationships is trust. Without trust, you don’t really have a relationship, not a good one anyway.

You have made certain commitments to your relationships. In your business relationships, you have made promises. You need clean edges around all of those promises. You need a list of the commitments you have made and your longer-term, ongoing commitments. You’ve committed to delivering some outcome you’ve sold or promised, and you need to ensure that promise is kept. You’ve also likely made some future-oriented promise you need to keep.

Keeping your commitments is the relationship hygiene that builds and preserves trust.


Good relationships are built on good communication. But they’re also built on frequent communication. Like any other area in your life where hygiene is important, problems occur when you go long periods of time without taking care of things.

Good hygiene here means open, candid conversations. In your business relationships, like your personal relationships, not communicating about problems and challenges only leads to bigger and more difficult issues.

Long periods of time with no communication is apathy at best, but it’s most likely a form of neglect.


Excellent relationship hygiene is proactive. You don’t wait until there is a reason to take action before you take action. You take responsibility by initiating things.

You proactively call before there is a reason to call. You send a note with some interesting, thoughtful idea when there is no reason to send it, other than the fact that you are thinking about the other person. For a client, you initiate the discussion around the next big idea before they even know they need the next big idea.

Good relationships require care and maintenance. Keeping your commitments builds the trust that strengthens relationships. Good and frequent communication, along with being proactive, are forms of caring, and they are critical to good relationships.


Who do you owe a commitment to right now? Who do you owe some ongoing commitment?

Who do you need to communicate with now? Who are you guilty of neglecting? Who might believe you are apathetic about your relationship?

What do you need to do to initiate some activity for someone with whom you have a relationship?

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