Building Relationships/Understanding Self and Others

Building relationships it easy for some and more uncomfortable for others. It often comes down to interest and intention. Many think there is a knack for building relationships that they just don’t have and never will. The truth is that it is possible for all of us. A few tips can go a long ways.

Let’s break this down.

Building relationships is about creating genuine connections. Why is this important? It is important because we humans are wired for connection. We thrive on relationships. We are more productive and creative when we can collaborate. We know we are in it together.

How do we build relationships? The point is to take an interest in others who you may wish to get to know a bit better. No more, no less. In fact, going in with an agenda to ‘have to’ achieve something in striking up a conversation with somebody is not suggested or recommended. Think about how you would like to be approached. What makes you feel that the other person is safe, easy to talk with, and engaging?

When you think of building relationships as being curious about others and asking them questions, how does experimenting with building relationships feel to you?

Sometimes, we are nervous to approach somebody that we may not know that well.  It is therefore helpful to:

  1. Remember that others are nervous too.
  2. Research a bit about the person and what their interests are or what your mutual interests may be.
  3. Have an idea of why you want to connect with this person and be transparent about it. This will help put you both at ease.
  4. Do not see lack of receptivity as a personal rejection. Sometimes people are busy, need time to warm up to new relationships, or feel vulnerable.
  5. When you do engage in conversation, show curiosity relating to the person and the reason you want to get to know them.
  6. Be ready with something to share with them about yourself to demonstrate openness.
  7. Shift the focus to them, what you can do to set them at ease, and use those listening skills that I wrote about last month. Most people do not feel heard.  Listening is an under-utilised skill in our busy world. To stop and listen is to provide one of the greatest gifts of all – to be heard, to matter. When is the last time somebody stopped to really hear you?
  8. Acknowledge the person throughout. Build on enthusiasm.
  9. Wrap up the conversation with a recap of what you enjoyed or learned and any items that you may have committed to getting back to them about. Thank them for the conversation.
  10. Follow through. If you said you would get back to them about something, do so to show you meant what you said, to build trust, and to further build the relationship. If you have something that you think would be helpful, share it with them.

Building relationships takes time and consistency. Establishing trust and rapport is a good first step. Following through on commitments, remembering important things that were shared with you, and checking in ‘just because’ are important. Don’t wait until you need something to connect with somebody. Do it because it is wonderful to create relationships!

Yours in relationship,