The Relationship Triangle

The Relationship Triangle is a high-impact facilitated discussion that shows how critically important personal relationships are within the team before they can consistently achieve the results they desire.

If you’re looking for team building activities this is a great one as most people believe their relationship within a team is stronger than it often is.

Or they don’t view the quality of their relationships as important.

This activity helps your audience come to the conclusion by themselves that good relationships are the foundation for a team to consistently deliver high quality work.

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    To help a team realize that in order to get the results they desire it is important to spend time developing the required relationships and shared understanding.

When Would You Use It?

  • In any team situation where the team is not getting the results they are looking for.
  • As part of a wider session using The Team Evolution Curve – just before the ‘cocktail party’ is perfect.
  • This is particularly relevant when people have new jobs.
  • Especially important for managers of teams buy-in because they’re responsible for their team as well as themselves.
  • Before coaching someone 1-to-1.

Resources Required

  • 20-40 minutes.
  • The ‘build slides’ at the end of this pack.
  • A projector.
  • A team that is looking to improve performance.


  • 1
    The Facilitator shows the 1st build slide showing The Relationship Triangle with no labels in the layers to the Participants.
  • 2
    The Facilitator says that what everyone wants results and clicks to the 2nd slide with ‘Results’ in the top layer.
  • 3
    The Facilitator asks “What needs to happen in order for results to turn out?” or “what do you need to take to get results?”. The Participants say “Action” and you click to 3rd build slide revealing ‘Action’ as the layer underneath ‘Results’.
Relationship Triangle Slide 1
  • 4
    The Facilitator asks “How many times do you take action without getting the results that you want?” – everyone should agree that this happens all the time.
  • 5
    The Facilitator asks “Why is that?” and “What is it that’s preventing all this well-planned action from delivering results?”
  • 6
    The Facilitator reveals the word ‘Relationships’ on the bottom layer (4th build slide).
Relationship Triangle Slide 2
  • 7
    The Facilitator explains that ‘Relationships’ is also ‘Shared Understanding’ (i.e. there’s a lack of shared understanding and lack of relationships in the room to deliver the results you want).
  • 8
    “When you’ve got good relationships in play then things become possible” – click to reveal ‘Possibilities’, the 5th build slide.
Relationship Triangle Slide 3
  • 9
    “Out of these possibilities real opportunities can emerge and then you take action and get results” – click to reveal ‘Opportunities’, the 6th build slide.
  • 10
    The Facilitator leads a group discussion using some or all of the questions on the ‘Killer questions & statements” slide swapping between the 6th and 7th build slides until you’re sure the Participants have realized just how important strong relationships are.

The Answer (nearly always)

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    The reason why people don’t get the desired results is often because they have not spent any time developing the required relationships (or a shared understanding).
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    Too many people charge straight into action knowing that there is no chance of follow through due to conflicting agendas, lack of trust etc.
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    This is particularly evident when people take on a new role – they charge in to objectives and targets and get busy at work without realizing that the time spent ensuring everyone is on the same page will triple or quadruple productivity.
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    Where ineffective relationships exist that affect the quality of the output of the team it is everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge that and tackle it.

What do strong relationships look like?

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    Conversations that are based upon mutual trust and respect.
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    Conversations that declare when there is a breakdown.
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    Conversations that create shared understandings.
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    Conversations that complete the past before moving to the future (dealing with a ‘bad’ history).
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    Conversations that brainstorm with no negatives, no judgment, no rebuttals etc.
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    Conversations where the possibilities generated are as ‘big’ as the relationship.

Killer questions & statements

How many people do you know that when you go into a meeting with them…

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    You know nothing is going to happen?
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    You know you’re just going to go through the motions?
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    You know you can’t wait to get out of that meeting as fast as you possibly can?
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    You know you’re going to produce a list of things to do but nothing’s going to actually happen?

When you’re in a room and you know there’s no trust or integrity in the room then what do you do? Call it or just go through the motions? The minute you don’t call it you’ve just become a pseudo-team and you shouldn’t be drawing your wages that week!

​(see The Team Evolution Curve activity for more on what pseudo-teams are)

Who can you think of right now that when you get into a room with them ideas are bouncing absolutely everywhere, things really begin to happen, you can move at pace and there’s lots of trust in the room?

If you decide on action without the required relationships and shared understanding in place you’re actually wasting your time.

The depth of your relationship with each other will determine the quality of your results.

Can you think of 1 or 2 people that when you go into a room with them you just want the meeting to be over?

This doesn’t just apply to work but all the friendships in your personal life too.

Secret Sauce

  • Allow them to challenge the model because someone will probably have an example of a person who gets a lot done without having good relationships in place. Your comeback is to consider how much more that person might achieve if they had even better relationships in place.
  • This is a heavy-hitting activity so if the room gets a little tense allow it to happen because if done right mountains can move in the room – expect big results and be ready to help them deal with some large issues.
  • An important point worth mentioning is developing strong productive relationships isn’t time spent not doing work. It is part of work. It doesn’t slow things down, it speeds things up.

Free Download Files

About the Author

Freelance Business Coach and Facilitator at Uist Consulting Ltd

  • Lina says:

    Thank you very much for sharing it!

  • Beverley Burrell says:

    Really appreciate you sharing this with us Alex.
    I do a lot of work around decision and action profiling both with individuals, leaders and teams. Too often there are judgements about the differences in others which leads to all sorts of bias and misunderstanding and or lack of trust.
    I am sure I will use this
    Many Thanks

    • Thanks for leaving a comment Beverley and couldn’t agree more about the lack of trust etc. I haven’t tried it myself yet but feel very confident it will really get to the root causes of lack of action and results. Hope you do get to use it and would love to hear how it goes when you get that chance.

  • This sounds like a really interesting and dynamic tool for developing teams. I often start management development and team development programmes with self awareness and relationship awareness, so I am really keen to see how this works.

  • dan says:

    Thanks Nick – I really appreciate the work you have done here and enabling me to down load. This is a great website with great resources. I have been asked to run a training session with a view of improving team work at short notice & your website has saved me a great deal of time. A very BIG thank you from me!

  • Thank you so much, this is such a fantastic site. I will definitely use this, and will also add a link on our website.

    • That’s great Trish. Let me know when you put the link on your site so I can put you on my ‘free forever’ members list.

  • Thanks Nick,
    Your activities are well explained. I will definitely be able to use them in my trainings. I’m sure they will add a lot of value to my sessions!

  • Zena says:

    Dear Nick,

    Thanks so much for this tool. I’ve known this for years in an abstract sort of way, but could not visualize the connections for my participant in a succinct manner. The Relationship Triangle captures many complexities in a simple, straightforward manner that provides the impetus for lots of juicy discussions. Brilliant!

    • Glad you like it Zena. You’re absolutely right that it visualises some basic but important concepts very succinctly. Enjoy using it.

  • Rituraj Kumar says:

    The activities given on this web page seem to have a lot of promise for unlocking human dynamics. Would love to try a few of these in my training programmes. Thanks a lot, Nick for sharing these.

  • Mike Farrey says:

    All too often todays top line managers think that chasing the daily number by negative force , fear factor, or e-mail bullying is the only way to achieve the number. This method unlocks the power of synergies. I am a big believer in this style of shared ideas meeting and have used similar methods myself. Discretionary staff effort is unlocked by including the team in a consultative style and not an autocratic one. Good methodology here – Mike

  • Richard says:

    Thank you Nick for great material – I really believe that I am going to grow through your brilliant material

  • Atiya khan says:

    Thanks a lot sir

  • Ting says:

    Thank you, Nick!

    These are great templates that can be used by any organization that wants to improve their productivity and get the most out of their daily work.

    Relationship building is the number one important activity at workplace, but often being ignored. We often rush into action without giving ourselves an opportunity to build the relationships because we “do not” have time.

    As a result, we lost more time which we did not have. If we can educate all leaders to allow new employees to build a strong relationships among the team members first, it will provide double or quadruple returns on the initial relationship building investment.

    Thank you for sharing your hard work! Best Wishes!

  • You are inspiring! Thanks for sharing these well thought through methods and models!

  • Ricardo says:

    Thank you very much for these beautiful and practical tools!

  • kithsiri says:

    Thanks very much Nick for sharing your hard work with others.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks Nick. I really like the simplicity of this, and the potential impact it could have is very compelling.

  • Shrikant Eklahare says:

    Dear Nick,
    I am really greatful to you for sharing your slides. It changed my persepective towards training.
    Pl keep sending me more information.
    Thanking you
    Shrikant Eklahare

  • CHIN CW says:

    Dear Nick,
    very many thanks for your kind generous sharing of these great training tools and ideas. It’s a great help and knowledge for my sharing in my class.

  • Hi Nick, thanks for sending out this valuable material I have used some of that in presentation and meeting preps to great effect.

  • Dr V P Singh says:


  • Andrew Erickson says:

    Nick, this is a great tool… I’ve used it for many years with great effect. I’d feel better if you did more to cite the source of these models… in this instance, Fernando Flores and his Conversations for Action.

    • david stitt says:

      Andrew, I first came across this model in the mid 90s and am keen to know source – you say it is Fernando Flores. Is there anyway I can evidence that as I would like to use this model with permission.

  • sujatha says:

    I have not got the free slides. Thanks

  • Michael Burrows says:

    Love the inclusion created by this methodology. Thanks for the insight.

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  • Suzanne Lelin says:


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