The Relationship Pyramid, which illustrates the relationships you can have with another human being, has six levels (see Figure 2.1). The relationships form a Pyramid because a great many people, literally billions, form the base—the people who do not even know your name—and relatively few are at the peak—the people who truly value a relationship with you.

I'll talk in a moment about the levels and how you move from one to the next, but I should make it clear immediately that these levels are not always as precisely divided as the illustration makes them appear. While there's a clear demarcation between the bottom level and the first (someone either knows your name or doesn't), the five positive levels tend to shade into one another. The line between the people who like you and the people who are friendly with you, for example, is more like a gray area than a sharp division.

Another key point: Getting to the top of the Relationship Pyramid is a long-term proposition. Moving to the top of the Pyramid does not happen overnight. The only way to get people to respect you overnight is either you have some specialized and extraordinary knowledge that they respect when they first meet you or you do something so cataclysmic (such as pulling them from a burning building) it causes them to look at you differently. In day-to-day dealings, you have to put in the time and effort to get someone to respect you or to value a relationship with you.

Figure 2.1. The ...

Get The Relationship Edge: The Key to Strategic Influence and Selling Success, Third Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.