5 Steps to Building Relationships

Whether you are seeking to build an extraordinary personal or business relationship, concepts are the same:

1. Take the hit.

A customer gets mad. A vendor complains about poor service. A mutual friend feels slighted. Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They’re willing to accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it–and they know that maybe, just maybe, the other person can’t.

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship.

2. Step in without being asked.

It’s easy to help when you’re asked. Most people will. Very few people offer help before  they have been asked, even though most of the time that is when a little help will make the greatest impact.

People who build extraordinary relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. Then they offer to help, but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way.

Instead they come up with specific ways they can help. That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections. And they can roll up their sleeves and make a difference in another person’s life.

Not because they want to build a better relationship, although that is certainly the result, but simply because they care.

3. Answer the question that is not asked.

Where relationships are concerned, face value is usually without value. Often people will ask a different question than the one they really want answered.

A colleague might ask you whether he should teach a class at a local college; what he really wants to talk about is how to take his life in a different direction.

A partner might ask how you felt about the idea he presented during the last board meeting; what he really wants to talk about is his diminished role in the running of the company.

An employee might ask how you built a successful business; instead of kissing up he might be looking for some advice–and encouragement–to help him follow his own dreams.

Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships think about what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.

4. Know when to dial it back.

Outgoing and charismatic people are usually a lot of fun… until they aren’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, still, some people can’t stop “expressing their individuality.” (Admit it: You know at least one person so in love with his personality he can never  dial it back.) People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.

Great relationships are multifaceted and therefore require multifaceted people willing to adapt to the situation–and to the people in that situation.

5. Prove they think of others.

People who build great relationships don’t just think about other people. They act on those thoughts.

One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise–it’s like getting flowers not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but “just because.” Praise helps others feel better about themselves and lets them know you’re thinking about them (which, if you think about it, is flattering in itself.)

Take a little time every day to do something nice for someone you know, not because you’re expected to but simply because you can. When you do, your relationships improve dramatically.

To find out more ways to build relationships with others, contact me for your next coaching session.

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