I once met someone who had just returned from Mongolia, where they spent a year with the Peace Corps. This blew my mind. I asked a ton of follow-up questions and marveled at their experience. We had a great conversation, and that person is now a good friend of mine.
I once managed a person who hosted pub trivia in the evenings. I regularly attended this person’s trivia nights and consistently shared what I liked about his particular style as a host. Later, when I had to provide this person with constructive feedback, it was received well, and the experience was positive.
A previous client of mine is a big-time Halloween enthusiast and regularly wins costume contests. We often spoke about her costume ideas, and I even saw several pictures of her winning designs. The costumes were incredible, and I sought her advice every Halloween for my own outfits. We still keep in touch even though we now live in different cities.
These are just three examples of the many strong relationships I have in my personal and professional life. People seem to enjoy me, trust me, and seek a connection with me. I believe this is because of two words - Genuine Interest.
I am genuinely interested in other people, and it creates stronger bonds.
Looking back over those three examples – genuine interest inspired my follow-up questions about the person’s Mongolia trip. Genuine interest came in the form of sharing what I specifically liked about the trivia host’s particular style. And finally, every year I reach out to my client and ask for her advice on costume ideas; our relationship remains strong because I am genuinely interested in her ideas.
If you want to form better relationships with your customers or team members or friends & family, start by taking a genuine interest in who those people are. They will appreciate it and invest more energy in forming a bond with you.
Below is a simple list of things you can do to build stronger relationships through genuine interest.
Turn off the part of your brain that wants to think ahead and just listen to the words the other person is using.
2. Ask questions related to what the other person just said
Example: “You mentioned that your living conditions in Mongolia were difficult. Can you expand upon that?”
3. Start your replies with the following…
“It’s important that you said that because…”
Beginning your reply with these words ensures you play a more active role in the conversation.
4. Be specific
“Specificity Kills Ambiguity” – Compare these two statements:
“I really liked your story!”
“Your enthusiastic manner of telling a story and your usage of descriptive words, not to mention how expressive you are, make for a very entertaining story”
Which would you prefer?
5. Ask for advice
Asking for advice is flattering to the other person. People fail to ask for advice because of a fear of vulnerability. If you understand that your vulnerability will positively impact the other person, it makes being vulnerable easier.
6. Replace words such as “no” or “Yes, But” with “Yes, And"
"Yes, And" leads to collaboration and drives connection with others. "No" and "Yes, But" drive disconnection. To learn more about “Yes, And," (See related blog, “Yes, And”)
7. Share the Grapevine
Did you overhear a co-worker complimenting another team member, but your team member was absent? Pass along that praise to your team member but make sure to give credit to the original praise giver. Positive feedback feels great, but sharing feedback you overhear can sometimes feel even better.
Genuine interest comes naturally to some but may be more of a stretch for others. If it feels like work for you, don’t worry, and know you are not alone. Choose one of the techniques found above and work to get a little bit better every day. That's progressive improvement
and a theme we carry through our sales, recruiting, account management, and leadership programs. If you're interested in advancing relationships with your clients, coworkers, and colleagues, let's connect.