The ‘Five Floors of Relationships’ (modeled on communication theory) is a helpful
way to understand the level and impact of contacts so they can be positioned strategically.
First Floor Relationships. Transactional in nature - people who do things for you
because it is their job. Clerks, service employees, people who help not because
of their relationship with you, but because of the nature of their position on the
Second Floor Relationships. Sharing some personal information, facts. Conversations
typically start with news, sports, and weather, and seldom move beyond the superficial
or topical. At work, such relationships are based on positional authority, such
as boss-employee. You aren’t truly friends.
Third Floor Relationships. Sharing opinions, learning to deal with conflict. For
the most part, however, such relationships are relatively superficial, and kept at
arm’s length. Peers who interact regularly to reach common goals. You know some
details about their personal lives and professional hopes and dreams, but are not
asked or invited to give advice or feedback.
Fourth Floor Relationships. Sharing emotions and feelings; ability to work through
conflict; willingness at times to put the other person’s needs ahead of your own.
Conversations consistently move beyond news, sports, and weather. Mentors, good
friends, close colleagues, people you care about in your job, industry, or community.
Fifth Floor ‘Penthouse’ Relationships. Shared values, high level of openness, candor,
and vulnerability, focusing on the other persons’s needs. Your closest and most
SOURCE: Spaulding, Tommy, It’s Not Just Who You Know, 2010, New York, Broadway Books,