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.

You can download a FREE Powerpoint or PDF of this tool at the bottom of this page


  • 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’.
  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)
  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.
  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.

Step 3

Relationship Triangle Slide 1

Step 6

Relationship Triangle Slide 2

Step 8

Relationship Triangle Slide 3

The Answer (nearly always)

  • 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).
  • Too many people charge straight into action knowing that there is no chance of follow through due to conflicting agendas, lack of trust etc.
  • 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.
  • 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?

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

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

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.

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!

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

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?

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

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