Protocol is the modern currency of relationships; the value of protocol to build relationships

In essence, protocol has always been about optimising relationships. Its structure and systems enable personal and meaningful meetings and encounters. It allows for streamlined logistics, maximising time and ensuring efficiency.

We live in a world where face-to-face, personal encounters are becoming increasingly scarce, and technology is facilitating many rules and procedures. Giving someone our personal time is one of the most powerful things we can do; protocol is, therefore, the modern currency of relationships.

Protocol management can offer a unique vision for building and optimising relationships, and provide a stage on which it can happen.

This model by the sinologist Monica Bakker explains the value of protocol to build relationships; it has the rules on the left side, the symbols on the right side and the creation of trust and connection in the middle.

The rules guarantee predictability and therefore offer the opportunity to create community. The symbolic side of the protocol is the story, so all of us participating in the event are able to understand the broader context of why we are here. Only if these two are applied in the right way, protocol is a facilitator of trust, connection and confirmation of the good relationship.

The challenge, however, is to balance between modernity and tradition. If the rules are applied too strictly, the event will become too formal and uncomfortable. Too casual and lacking focus is also not good and the use of too few rules will result in chaos. Also, too many symbols will make people laugh and when there is no symbolism, we will not be able to recognise the story and/or are able to relate to why we are attending the event.

Want to know more about building strong reciprocal relationships?

High-level networking meetings are preferably part of structural policy, rather than a one-off. A structured approach, or professional relationship management, ensures access to the right networks and a reciprocal relationship with the most valued stakeholders – something that will become increasingly important in the coming years. The development of professional relationship management is, however, new and complex. We provide support for the development of modern, professional relationship management through our sister organisation, the Institute of Strategic Relationship Management.

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