If you want to build better relationships you need to have a high level of emotional intelligence. This post will highlight how you can build better relationships by keeping things close.
Fresh from an 11 day trip to the US Open in New York, the first thing I did after returning to San Francisco was text my fellow unemployed friend to play tennis. After you’ve watched tennis 10 hours a day, all you want to do is whack some balls!
I had gained a few pounds from eating one too many pastrami sandwiches and chocolate babkas. Zabar’s on the Upper West Side is a dangerous place. It was time to go on a healthy detox regiment of water, lettuce, protein shakes, and hours upon hours of running around the court!
The Epic Battle And The Desire To Build Better Relationships
In San Francisco, when the temperature breaks 80 degrees, I have a rule to try and kill myself exercising outdoors for as long as possible. After all, we only average 64 degrees year around. It’s good training for future difficult matches when the body just wants to give up. Somewhat surprisingly, my friend, and older gentleman who always wears sweat pants, agreed to come out and play in the heat.
Not only did we play on a shadeless court, we went for three hours and 15 minutes in an epic battle. After he beat me in the second set 7-5, he started going on and on about how I was doomed. He told me that I’d double fault to help his way along to victory. Boy, was he talking a lot of trash! I couldn’t believe he was still standing after two hours.
To give some history, before this three hour match I had beaten him seven times in a row. Yes, I should probably find a better partner, but how many 4.5 or 5.0 players are there who can play at 10am or 2pm during weekdays? So few! Less than 5% of USTA players are rated 5.0 or higher.
Kept Things Close
Even though my opponent ended up losing our recent match 4-6, 7-5, 5-7 he was emboldened. For the first time ever, he had finally taken a set off me and had just barely lost in 93 degree heat.
What was the logical step after a match that almost broke our bones? To play again two days later of course!
I was pretty disappointed with my play because I just ran out of energy. Being 15 pounds over fighting-weight is extremely frustrating. Losing weight takes time, so I had to find a mental edge! Solution: I downloaded “Winning Ugly,” by Brad Gilbert on my iPhone and read it while doing some light exercise in the off day before our rematch.
The book provided me with incredible strategic tips, and I ended up beating my same opponent 6-2, 6-0 in an hour! Given we had played two hours longer two days earlier, I asked if he’d like to play a third set.
He said, “No. No thank you.”
I asked him, “Why not? We’ve got so much time left and neither of us have anywhere to go.”
He responded, “I feel demoralized.”
Since that match two weeks ago, I haven’t heard from him. He no longer wants to play, and I’m left trying to figure out other activities to get myself back down to 160 lbs from 170lbs. It’s very hard to find other good players who are free to play during the weekdays.
Ego Gets In The Way Of Better Relationships
After beating him seven times in a row, it shouldn’t matter if I lose a set or lose a match. But it bothered me so greatly that I couldn’t put him away in straight sets that I wanted to beat his ass so bad the next time around so he’d realize the 3.15 hour match was just a fluke.
Unfortunately, I may have just lost a regular tennis partner because my pride got in the way. It’s not like I’m playing for money or glory. This is completely recreational tennis! I love playing tennis with people from all levels, especially doubles. I just couldn’t control my competitive desire to conquer.
This incident got me thinking about other things I’ve written about in the past as it relates to personal finance.
Keys To Getting Ahead In Finance And With Friends
1) Never tell anybody how much money you make. Even if you are older, and s/he is your friend, never give an exact amount! About 10 years ago, I lost a good friend because I finally told him how much I made after he begged me to tell him so he could better negotiate his compensation package. He become so envious of my income that he no longer wanted to hang out. It didn’t matter that he worked at a smaller bank, was three years younger, and didn’t have his MBA. All he thought about was how it wasn’t fair I made more.
2) Be smart enough to act dumb enough to get ahead. In a competitive work environment, it’s important to not stand out too much because people will cut you down. Jealousy is an unavoidable human trait. Nobody is a saint or monk at work. The same thing goes for building your own business while talking to competitors. Be nice, and certainly don’t act like a know it all. The world has a great way of cutting people back down to size.
3) Keep the majority of your wealth hidden. After you’ve promised yourself never to tell anybody, except your spouse, how much money you exactly make, it’s even more imperative you also hide your true total net worth from others as well. There’s all sorts of bitterness towards people who have higher than average net worth figures. If people can hide their net worth from the all-knowing IRS, you can surely keep some of your net worth hidden from your friends and acquaintances. The easiest way to appear more normal is to avoid showing up in a fancy car.
4) You will always be views as arrogant if you have more. Enough said.
Play Client Tennis Or “Business Development” Tennis
Anybody who plays sports has an innate competitiveness that’s sometimes hard to control. Thus, if you want to build better relationships, assuming you’re the better player, it’s important to never beat your opponent so badly that hopes are crushed.
Instead, try to play “client tennis,” which is the act of keeping a match close. Client tennis involves dumping some points into the net, or hitting some shots way out wide. Maybe throw in some double faults and let your opponent hit some great shots for winners. Frequently praise your opponent for good play. You can still win, but just keep it close.
Finally, performing good client tennis is a great way to keep your ego in check. If performed well, your opponents won’t even know you’re letting them win. And when they do win, you can test out your humility by congratulating them on a job well done.
I can always tell when someone is performing client tennis on me. But I don’t let them know I know. I thank them, and try and hit with them again, which is exactly what both parties want! Client tennis can be applied to work, building a business, and in your various relationships.
And when I say “client tennis,” I mean just keep things competitive in whatever activity you partake in with someone you respect. You will build better relationships over time if you do!
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