Relationship ABCs: 7 Building Blocks For Establishing Strong Relationships
“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
How do you build strong relationships?
In today’s hyper-connected Internet world, making contact and adding connections on a social network is not enough.
The reason is simple . . . a contact or a connection does not mean that you have established a relationship.
A relationship is more than a name in a Rolodex – virtual or otherwise.
To establish a relationship, you have to find ways to become meaningful to those individuals who matter. In other words, you have to create an emotional glue that binds you together with others, enabling you to build loyalty, trust and support.
These are the true building blocks for establishing strong relationships.
The question is . . . how do you do this? How do you transform casual acquaintances into meaningful and lasting relationships?
Remember The Relationship ABCs
Before I get into the specifics of Relationship ABCs, there is a simple rule to which you must adhere if you are going to be successful.
To start, you must have a genuine desire to connect with people on a deeper level. This means that you need to be the one to make the initial move with a clear and determined commitment to invest the time it takes to nurture relationships. You must adopt a genuine attitude of curiosity. By doing so, you will create sustaining and rewarding relationships that will withstand change and uncertainty in the corporate arena and, life in general.
Now that we have laid the foundation, it’s time to take the next step.
In this eNewsletter, I will share with you the “7 Building Blocks” for establishing strong Relationships (with a capital “R”).
A Quick Relationship Quiz
There are powerful but invisible laws that determine whether you build successful relationships with your leadership, colleagues, customers, stakeholders and acquaintances. It’s not by chance but by choice that certain individuals shine above the rest. The foundation for anyone’s success today rests on the relationships they nurture.
The following Relationship Quiz will help you to determine where you are in your present relationships, and what you need to do to elevate them to the next level.
RATE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Answer Yes or No to the following questions . . .
- Do people recognize your name instantly when you call?
- Do people remember you out of context from your role?
- Do people know what you do and your value?
- Do people continually invite you to join LinkedIn and follow your Tweets?
- Do your business partners invite you to important meetings because they respect your insights?
- Do colleagues include you to attend after work get-togethers?
- Do senior managers connect with you on a personal level outside of your role?
- Do customers describe you as a trusted partner?
- If you answered No or Not Sure to any of the above questions, then read and apply the 7 Building Block tips that follow.
- If you answered Yes to all of the above questions, read the 7 Building Block tips anyway. After all, you can always find ways to do what you are already doing well, even better.
1. Building Block A: Be Agreeable
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug.”– Mark Twain
Position yourself to be agreeable. Say “yes” as often as possible. Some people don’t see that they have built a reputation as a “but” person i.e. “I heard what you said but let me tell you….”.
Of course you can and should, where warranted, still embrace disagreement. Transparency is a key to building real relationships. However, you must be mindful in the way in which you come across. The reason is quite simple . . . establishing and maintaining relationships depend on how you manage conflict. It means that both your manner and your words do not make others wrong for their beliefs.
Or to put it another way, you can still be seen as being agreeable and helpful, even when you do not say yes.
2. Building Block B: Be Relevant
“In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.”– Zig Ziglar
To me, Ziglar’s words speak directly to the point of being relevant. Specifically, when you inspire and encourage others to be their best, you become a key building block for their success because you bring out the best in them.
I am not just talking about hollow words of platitudes or the recitation of power phrases. This is an important point to remember.
Inspiration and encouragement goes beyond offering mere words. It includes setting a positive example, offering expertise and insight as well as challenging someone to see beyond the confines of familiar ideas and ways of doing things.
In the end, relevancy is a call to meaningful and productive action that enables others to achieve a desired outcome.
3. Building Block C: Communicate
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. “– George Bernard Shaw
I have always believed that communication is not just talking, it is understanding.
Understanding only becomes possible when we do not make assumptions. This includes presuming what people are thinking, or their motives for saying and doing what they do.
To avoid reaching wrong conclusions, communicate – talk with others frequently or over-communicate. Make sure others are clear on your vision, purpose, rationale. In short, keep your messages clear, concise and to the point, while seeking the same clarity from others in terms of their position. Reflecting back what you heard is a good safety net.
4. Building Block D: Honor Diversity
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”– Tony Robbins
Whether part of a large corporation, or heading up a small business, in today’s expanding world, we all for the most part operate in a global community.
Different cultures, backgrounds and demographics give people different expectations. You must be sensitive to the fact that others may not see the world the way you do. Language therefore will have different levels of meaning and people will respond differently to the same words.
When building rapport, everything from the culture to the norms will impact on your success in connecting. Research as much as you can but hold back from stereotyping people. You are best off treating everyone like an individual.
- How well do you flex your style of communicating with different cultures?
- Have you changed the manner in which you expand relationships based on cultural differences?
- How have you adapted your writing and speaking style to meet the expectations of the culture you are working with?
5. Building Block E: Be Likable
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”– Maya Angelou
The meaning of likability, or being likable, is frequently misunderstood. Often times, people equate it with being insincere or unctuous. Nothing could be further from the truth.
However, likability does not stand alone. It is part of the Know, Like and Trust formula for success.
This means that before you can be liked, people have to know you.
To achieve this, you must first be understood. When people get to know you, they will be more inclined to like you and thus you will be heard. When you are heard, they will trust you and ultimately open up doors of mutual opportunities to grow and flourish.
6. Building Block F: Be Reachable
“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeable, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”– Sydney J. Harris
You are no doubt familiar with the phrase “it isn’t personal, it is just business.”
However, whether in business or life in general, making it personal is essential to building strong and lasting relationships.
Like the difference between information and communication, to become more than a name or contact, people have to hear your voice live.
I am not suggesting that electronic voice communication doesn’t have its place. But it doesn’t enable you to build the same level of rapport and intimacy associated with a personal connection.
7. Building Block G: Establish Trust
“Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once said that “when deeds speak, words are nothing.”
The connection between your words and actions are critical to building trust and good relationships. This means that you must always do what you say you will do!
You must always honor commitments.
As a result, don’t over commit. However, and it can happen, when you are unable to deliver to your word, communicate with partners and make them aware of potential set-backs. While they may not be happy that there is a delay or a problem, they will respect your honesty and trust you to always tell it like it is.
Now You Know Your (Relationship) ABCs
The above Relationship “Building Blocks” are the key to your success in terms of creating the ties that bind with others.
What this means is that you have to build from the standpoint of quality not quantity. For example, if you believe that establishing special relationships is about staying in touch via postings, Twitter or Facebook, you will be missing the personal touch that can only be created when you have that face to face experience. As a result, it is not likely that your relationships will ever develop to their fullest potential.
However, when you use the above as a personal guideline for building Relationships, the benefits are many including; You’ll be seen as a trusted partner. You’ll build a reputation for being seen as essential to others. You’ll grow a network who champions you. You’ll attract people to want to be on your team and most important, you’ll open the door for infinite potential for future relationships.
Look forward to our paths crossing in the future…in person