In the corporate world, it’s easy to see the importance of relationships, and the benefits they can bring to your business. Mike Fishbein, in his book, Stop Networking!: Building Relationships, Meeting New People and Connecting with Authenticity, highlights the importance of truly connecting with others on a deeper level versus the superficial niceties we are expected to do at networking events. “Both consciously and subconsciously, people are motivated to do business with people they know, like, and trust.” This means you can’t just try to develop a relationship with someone because you want/need something from them. There needs to be a benefit to both parties. Not to mention, people know when you are trying to befriend them for ulterior motives. This is where emotional intelligence comes in…we need to strengthen our interpersonal skills and develop mutually satisfying relationships in business.
Dale Carnegie, in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, states, “If we want to make friends, let’s put ourselves out to do things for other people – things that require time, energy, unselfishness and thoughtfulness.” This means we need to learn to be more supportive. Being socially responsible means caring about others and contributing to the community. That community may be the community in which they live, the organization in which they work, or the people in which they lead. In essence, it means giving back.
On a personal level, we all know how much relationships matter. Brandon Burchard, in his e-book, Transformation Truths, states, “Much of the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships. Healthy relationships are those that support your well-being and growth.” Having strong connections with others satisfy a basic human need for us to be close to and supported by others. Many studies show, we are happier, healthier and can even live longer when we have solid relationships in our lives. Helen Keller, American author, political activist and lecturer, who also happened to be the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree said it best, “walking alone in the dark with a friend is better than walking alone in the light.”
So, knowing all of this, why is taking time to strengthen our relationships put on hold so often? Many people have difficulties networking & building professional and/or personal relationships. For some people, the ability to build strong connections comes naturally, for others it is a challenge.
Here are four simple tips to deepen your relationships:
1. Schedule It
Often we get extremely caught up in our daily activities that we don’t stop to take time to strengthen our relationships. It’s important to schedule time for friends, whether it is a week in advanced or a month. Make sure you have a specific date picked out to spend time together. By actually scheduling a specific date instead of saying something like, “let’s hang out next week sometime” will dramatically increase the chances that it will happen. Tony Robbins states, “If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.” When you actually schedule something in your life, you are making it a priority in your life.
2. Disconnect to Connect
With technology limiting our face-to-face interaction, building strong relationships is more valuable and more challenging than ever before. When you are out with others, be it business or pleasure, unplug and listen! Today, the majority of our communications are filtered through virtual media devices. Multitasking is commonplace. When you put your phone down and listen, you will improve your listening skills and become a better friend or business partner. The quality of time you are spending will improve, and it will give your brain the much-needed break from the next item on your to-do list.
3. Don’t Be Judgemental
As we get older, we tend to settle into our daily routine and can start to judge others who may do things differently than us. It’s important to be open-minded and realize that different people do different things. Jim Morrison, lead Singer of the Doors stated it best, “A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself.” Instead of judging your relationships, try instead to understand the person. Use your emotional intelligence empathy skills, and try to put yourself in their shoes. This open-mindedness could create an opportunity to face a problem in your life with a different perspective, open up the potential of a business idea, or make you more effective at communicating with that challenging team member.
4. Stay Connected
Making time is important, but staying connected when you are not physically together is just as important. Like most of us, our schedule fills up quickly, the to-do list is never-ending, and you forget to schedule time for yourself, let alone your friends. Your friends, peers, or subordinates will appreciate you checking in, even if you don’t have time to get that face-to-face time scheduled.
Follow these four simple tips and you will be one step closer to building stronger friendships!