Are you an awesome leader? Do you inspire awe in others?
One secret to being awesome is the ability to have strong, positive relationships with others. Relationships are the key to success in today’s world. It doesn’t matter how good your technical skills are, if you can’t get along with others, you won’t be able to excel or grow at work or at home. The stronger our relationships are, the more awesome we can be.
Yes, there are other things that contribute to awesomeness, but for today we are going to focus on strong relationships.
How we communicate and interact with others forms our relationships. Relationships are all about the way in which we talk, behave, and otherwise interact with each other. How do you express yourself? Is it in a way that forges and builds relationships?
The Pillars of Awesome Relationships
All strong relationships are built on:
- Honesty, and
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Carl W. Buechner
These four pillars of relationships are conveyed and shared through communication. Communication is the tool we use to transfer – verbally and nonverbally – respect, trust, honesty, and connection. Communication is how we build relationships. Relationships are how we achieve, well, pretty much everything in life. There is no one who has achieved success 100% on their own. Everyone gets help along the way. People who teach us, guide us, help us find the right resources or connections. The list goes on and on.
From the people who raised us to the people who gave us an opportunity, we’ve all had a variety of relationships that have led us to where we are now. Some of those relationships were positive, and some were negative. Wouldn’t it be great if there were simple things we could do everyday that would help increase the positive – the awesome – in relationships?
Great news, there are!
1. Get personal.
When you are greeting someone, use their name. It makes the greeting more personal and instantly conveys a sense that the person is important to you. Learn the names of everyone with whom you interact. From the person who cleans the bathrooms to the spouse of the top executive, you want to make everyone feel valued. This shows respect while helping to build a connection.
2. Don’t eat alone.
We’ve all heard the expression that you shouldn’t drink alone. The same goes for eating at the workplace. Eating together creates a natural time for people to relax and bond. There is something about food that tends to put people at ease. It can also be use used as a conversation starter if eating significantly different types of food.
3. Remember, you’re on the clock.
I’m not talking about the company clock, but the clock of the person you’re talking with. We all have busy schedules, so we need to be aware of how much time we spend with someone. Did we ask for 5 minutes but now it’s been 20 minutes? Did we drop by unexpectedly? Be respectful of the other’s persons time. This will go a long way in building trust. Trust that time with you is value added to their day, and not a depletion in their productivity.
4. Recognize the voice of body language.
We’ve all heard the expression that actions speak louder than words. Pay attention to the body language of others. Are they becoming bored or impatient? It might be time to wrap up and move on. Are they chomping at the bit to share their ideas? Let them speak. Are they leaning forward and nodding their head? Keep talking. Remember that conversations and relationships are about more than just yourself. Staying in tune with the other person is a sign of respect.
5. Be interesting.
Know what is happening in the world, especially related to thought leaders in your industry and world news. Have something interesting to say to start the conversation and be able to share your personal views on the topic. This opens the door for the other person to share what they know as well. Relationships start with conversations, and conversations can grow the nature of the relationship. Be thoughtful with the conversations that will nurture positive energy.
6. Know your audience.
We know this is important when speaking to a large group. But it is just an important when speaking to an individual. Know what type of conversation topics and styles they will be most receptive to. Don’t waste their time with things they will consider nonsense. Knowing the right things to talk about and the right way to talk about them, for each person, goes a long way in developing a positive connection with them.
7. Give more than you take.
Relationships are a two-street. There is a constant shifting between what you give to the relationship and what you take from it. People who are seen as great at building relationships and who are highly trusted and respected, focus on what they can bring to the party. They are always offering something – a hand, an ear, or a little nugget of wisdom. This naturally brings them more than they need from the relationship, but it’s the giving that strengthens and grows the relationship. If you just sit around and take, the relationship is very likely to fail.
8. Go old school.
Take a break from technology and write a handwritten note. Radical, I know. But so few people take the time to do this nowadays, it will make you unique. It will show your thoughtfulness and reflect the importance of the relationship to you. It doesn’t have to be lengthy and takes no longer to write by hand than to type an email. Yet the handwritten note carries much more impact than an email or IM. Use notes for thanks, appreciation, and special occasions.
9. Be genuinely curious.
If you want to start or grow a relationship with someone, ask them questions. Not generic questions about the paint color in the room, but real questions about their successes and challenges, their hobbies, or their families. Ask questions that you actually want the answers to. If you aren’t interested in the answer, people will feel that; that will weaken the relationship. Ask questions that will be meaningful to both you and the other person. Be interested in their response and use the opportunity to learn more about them.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie
10. Share your network.
Use the relationships you have, to help others grow their network. Offer to make introductions and suggest possible contacts worth pursuing. Not only does this show that you are thinking of the other person, but it shows that you want to help them be successful. Talk about a way to demonstrate respect, trust, and connections all at once, this strategy highlights the pillars of a great relationship.
Putting It All Together
Great relationships take effort. That’s what it all boils down to. If you want to become awesome at relationships, a key ingredient to life success, then you are going to have to put in the effort. Think about how you interact with people on a daily basis. Do you show respect? Are you building trust? Is promoting honesty a core value? Are you creating connections? If you aren’t giving a resounding yes! to every one of these questions, then you may want to make some adjustments in your words and actions.
Communication is essential to being successful, yet most people overlook it or aren’t sure where to start when they do want to improve it. The ten strategies above are one place you can start. Begin with these small steps and work on making them part of your communication habits. Be intentional about practicing them every day. With time they will become more natural for you and you will see the improvements in your relationships. Small steps can lead to big rewards in many areas of your life – communication is no exception. Increasing your level of awesomeness is a big reward that all of your relationships can benefit from. Go be awesome!