- Identify the people with whom you want to have a—or a better—relationship with.
Who are the 10 to 15 people that you need to have a really great relationship with if you’re going to accomplish great things in our lives? These may be co-workers, family members, or even people you don’t know at this point.
Be intentional about making time to meet people like this and/or build the relationships you have, bringing them to a deeper level.
- Really listen to people—don’t just prepare to talk.
Listening builds more relationships than talking does. Are you listening very intentionally? I once read a story of a mother who was busy with a task when her daughter wanted to talk to her.
She told her daughter, “Oh, honey, go ahead and talk. I’m doing this.” The little girl came over and sat in front of her and grabbed her face and said, “No, Mom, I want to do full-face listening here.” How about it? Do you “full face” listen to others?
- Cultivate meaningful conversations.
Deborah Tannen, a noted author around the idea of conversation and how it plays out between genders and in various settings, has suggested that the flavor or the tone of your relationship may be reflective of the last five conversations that you’ve had with that person.
Think back on the 10-15 people with whom you have key relationships. What has been the flavor of your most recent conversations with them?
When I was working in labor relations with union officials, I used this idea to think back and consider our conversations, determining if we were competing or advocating a position at the time.
Then I tried to intentionally go back and say, “Okay, let’s have some conversations around topics where we have general agreement about how we both can help people in the organization succeed–or maybe just some conversations that are more social in nature.”
- Plan for intentional, ongoing conversations.
What’s the next conversation you need to have with each of the key people you’ve identified above? What would support them or help them? Always think of how you can have conversations that will help forward their agenda. Find out what it is they’re interested in, working on, or trying to achieve.
As you think about your relationships: have you identified the people you want to have a solid relationship with? Are you prepared to listen and cultivate meaningful conversations? Are you planning for intentional, ongoing conversations?
You’ll likely find that an investment of time and consideration goes a long way toward building a network of healthy—and enjoyable—relationships.