Do You Talk About The Right Things?


Whether you’re planning a party around the NBA playoffs or building support to fight a proposed zoning law, you’ll always need positive relationships. Why? Because our relationships with coworkers, peers, neighbors and even adversaries guide us to achieve goals. Understanding those relationships and/or how they’re built isn’t always a simple task. People are uniquely complex individuals and finding consistent solutions is anything but smooth sailing.

We’re each very aware of healthy relationships being critical aspects of a person’s good health and personal well-being. It’s become commonplace to read articles with evidence of strong personal relationships contributing to longer, healthier and happier lives. The upside to building solid relationships are obvious to everyone, so why the apprehension?

 Common Values: What Matters is What Matters

We develop our best relationships when discovering similar interests. It’s these common grounds of value and interest which create our strongest emotional connections. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with small talk to gauge someone’s viewpoints related to potential topics. Remember every conversation is an opportunity for a future success! Talk about things that matter to you and give others a chance to know your interests. If they hold similar beliefs and care about those same issues, you’ll know from their immediate reaction. It’s within those conversations you’ll find meaningful connections which offer the building blocks to relationships.

  1. Ask people open-ended questions
  2. Be friendly, smile, make eye contact and establish a personal connection
  3. Gain trust by telling people about yourself
  4. Be accepting of other people and your potential differences
  5. Assume other people are interested in building new relationships

Personal Vulnerability: Letting Your Guard Down

How many people desperately avoid the occasional self-deprecating joke? They refuse to mention mistakes or shortcomings for fear it will embarrass them or show a weakness? You know that person too, huh? I’m certain we’ve all run across them a time or two during the course of our lives. When you try to craft that perfect image, you’re destined to fail. The only message you’ve really communicated is that of a guarded and/or impersonal person. People enjoy spending time and interacting with other people. Save the protective personas for the mystery novel characters.

In the workplace, constructive outcomes of self-deprecation are found through reducing the status differences between leaders and their followers. Followers not only like these types of leaders, but feel ‘closer’ to them. This closeness or connection is important because it makes followers more willing to listen to the leader’s message. Humor is a key element of persuasiveness.

  1. It’s okay for anyone to make mistakes
  2. Learn what it means to be authentic to yourself
  3. Find out what really challenges you
  4. Know when you’re not fully committed to anything
  5. Define your core values

Socializing: Getting Out and About

It’s a quantity and quality formula. The quantity of the people you meet directly relates to the quality of people you meet.

If you don’t know a lot of people and barely meet a couple new people each year, considering the variety of people out there, you won’t meet many like-minded people in terms of interests and values. And since these natural matches are a large part of building strong relationships, your opportunities to develop meaningful relationships are severely lessened. Now let’s assume you go out often, meet new people and constantly stretch your social circles. By doing those different things you’re much more likely to meet people closer to your personality type.

In a nutshell, that’s why it’s important to meet more people. It’s as simple and complicated as that..

  1. Overcome the all-too-common “fear of rejection”; Don’t be intimidated
  2. Build relationships one at a time
  3. Get out of the house and go places
  4. Make a point of inviting people to be involved in sociable activities
  5. Don’t make it too heavy and focus on enjoying people

Integrity: Works in Progress

Do your words and actions communicate the same message? When your actions match your verbal commitments others will recognize a personal integrity. Without that integrity, people may not trust you on a personal level which naturally transfers to professional settings. When you’re consistent with behavior your feedback is trusted, even when it’s hard to swallow, and people will trust you to keep promises.

That belief of integrity is key to maintaining relationships. Your friends, colleagues will not worry about motives while remaining confident of who you are and where you stand. Integrity is the bedrock foundation upon which all successful relationships are built.

  1. Stop and notice when you break rules (even when no one notices)
  2. Stop and notice when any promises or commitments are broken
  3. Stop and notice the times you are not fully committed to a task
  4. Stop and notice instances when you don’t meet another person’s expectations
  5. Be the same person in private as you are in public

When you’ve mastered each of these areas, it becomes as easy as “just showing up”.

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