One thing that has always intrigued me is the way people interact with each other. I probably should have been an anthropologist or psychiatrist or something because i spend too much time thinking about that kind of stuff. I’ve noticed in my line of work the importance of building rapport and having trusting relationships with the people i see in the streets. I think its important for everyone to have good, trusting relationships regardless of their work.
If you take one thing from this blog let it be this; always practice open honest communication with everyone in your life. I know what you’re thinking, there are some things you can keep to yourself. Wrong. Especially in a situation where you’re starting a relationship, whether it be a business, personal, or just a friendship you need to go in with honesty. Make it your duty to make sure that the person knows with clarity and confidence what your intentions are and what you are trying to accomplish. Without them knowing what you want you start off behind. One way people make mistakes is being friends with or starting a relationship with someone for the wrong reasons. In a business setting it’s obvious that there are some times where one side will benefit more than the other, that’s going to happen. As long as both parties are aware of intentions it can be a healthy and trusting relationship that could grow and benefit both sides. People often choose influence or power to start building a relationship, talking about themselves and building up their brand or lifestyle to provide worth. This will do nothing for you, an intuitive person will sniff you out immediately. It may take a while for others but they will eventually realize that you’re using influence and feeding your ego and decide they don’t want anything to do with you or your plan. Try inspiration and facts for long term emotional trust instead of influence and opinion for a short lived positive emotion.
I know because my wife-to-be told me, You need to be a better listener. Many people will laugh and say this is an obvious thing to do but you would be surprised just how many people are actually listening. Truly listening to someone involves 2/3 shutting the hell up and 1/3 validation. It is instinctual to immediately have an opinion or statement pop into your head the second someone says something to you. Keep these opinions to yourself unless asked for them, especially if it sheds a negative light on what they said. Instead, ask yourself questions about why you think a certain way and make statements that build on their ideas instead of breaking them down. I realize that sometimes you will disagree with an idea someone has, but instead of immediately showing that disagreement try to understand how they came to that conclusion. Validating someone’s ideas does not mean you agree but it is more like seeking to understand their context to better understand their reasoning and help you with communicating and interacting with them. Try to build habits with listening, scrutinize every interaction you have with people and work off of your experience. In the army after a mission or action we had a thing called an AAR (after action review). It was a structured de-brief where we analyzed what happened, why, and how it can improve next time. Give yourself 3 points to sustain and 3 points to improve to better build your muscle memory to become a better listener. I know it seems like a lot of trouble to just become a better listener but it will improve your relationships tenfold. You can go as far as having labels and meanings for your plans of interaction with people, writing down things repetitively helps as well.
Ask positive learning questions. What i mean by this is when you’re interacting with someone you can tell by body language and general mood whether you’re getting anywhere with someone. If you’ve somehow been derailed in conversation and can tell that it is going nowhere fast, reorganize and bring it back to them. Ask questions that are centered around them instead of yourself. People are wired to want to feel valued and affiliated with meaningful groups. If you’ve proven trust and listened then you are a meaningful person to them so feeding that hard wire, by asking specific questions, will bring them back to you. Ask them how they came to a conclusion, or what life experience made them think the way they do. Some people tend to avoid personal conversation in a professional environment, which is understandable, it makes people uncomfortable. Instead, ask someone what they value most or what they consider themselves an expert at. This not only makes people feel valued but is a general topic that comes off as altruistic allowing them to be individualistic. It may seem like you’re being manipulative but it is beneficial for both parties. When you ask someone about their values and life it helps you better understand them. And as long as your agenda is pure and you’ve established your intentions, both parties can know that they are in a trusting atmosphere. The goal here is to make yourself an available asset for the success of everyone, including yourself, by establishing trust, listening, and asking questions to better discover someones context and help them meet their goals while accomplishing your own with solid relationships.
Lastly, Be Patient. Not everyone is an open book, and being respectful of peoples boundaries is a good way to build trust. Honoring someones decision to be private and not interact with you betters your chance of creating a relationship with them in the future. They will remember that you were respectful. Giving people the choice to trust or interact with you empowers them in a way, and that is helpful for you and for them. Patience IS a virtue but action and perseverance is a burden. Depending on the type of relationship and the context, patience may not be an option, but its all dependent on your circumstances. People are different, so always make sure your intentions are pure and you aren’t guided by ill-will, and things should work out well.
As this world gets more and more difficult to maneuver, socially and professionally, keep in mind that people, your fellow human beings, are important. You need people to achieve goals, and being a resource for someones prosperity means; building trust, listening and learning, to forge a reliable network of contacts to be successful in any aspect of life.