Allegedly, 'The Apprentice' supremo Alan Sugar once signed a Christmas card 'Best wishes from Alan Sugar'. Nothing wrong in that - if it hadn't been to his wife. Obviously, he's a busy man and had simply got mixed up. But if you thought Mrs Sugar's face was a picture, imagine how his bank manager must have felt when he read 'To my darling, with love forever, Alan'. Commercially speaking, he'd be over the moon. But on a personal level he probably chose to leave it in the safe and not mention it to anyone.

How you sign a Christmas card can say a lot about the relationship you have with the recipient. We all have a circle of relationships. At its core are family members and a handful of close friends. They'll all receive a 'Love from' because they're the ones whom you confide in, turn to, rely on and trust.

Then there's the next tranche of friends where it's more likely to be 'best wishes'. These are the ones with whom you get on well and perhaps see socially. This group is bigger than the inner circle of friends and is positioned around it. Good friends, sure, but not the closest. You might lend them a lawnmower but you wouldn't spend a weekend at Center Parcs with them.

And then there's the outer ring. These are more acquaintances than friends. Perhaps people with whom you worked a while ago or met while sheltering from a blizzard on Blackpool Pier and gave your phone number to. Either way, you rarely see them. You certainly don't know their birthdays. They're more likely to receive a 'Season's Greetings' from you.

This is your circle of relationships. It's made up of layers of people and may well include some buffoon who married into your family, but there's nothing you can do about that.

So if you want to improve a relationship you have to penetrate the other person's circle. This involves acts of kindness, the cumulative effect of which is to get you closer to the centre. It could be any kind of act so long as it doesn't lead to a restraining order. That will lead you to a different ­centre altogether.

I'm talking about paying attention to a colleague or client. Remembering a name months or years after you met. Listening to how someone feels and making an effort to understand them and care about what they care about. And above all, delivering on your promises. Every positive act gets you closer to the centre, while every negative one pushes you further away. It's not rocket science. That's next month.

Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on the psychology of persuasion and the author of 'Life's A Game So Fix The Odds'