Ever met someone and within three minutes wished you were home watching television?
Ever watched someone ruin a relationship in one setting?
Ever walk away from an encounter saying, “hmm I’m glad I was here, I feel better; now?”
People, impact and effect.
Last night I attended Paul Anderson’s Career Mixer. RSVPS for the Prolango networking event were rumored to be 500+. And this was on the night of the NCAA finals- at exactly the time the game was on. Last month I interviewed Paul and talked about the similarities between getting a job and developing new business.
I went to the event intentionally committed to connecting people to solutions and resources. I practiced what my friend Jeff Shuey coined as my commitment to ‘pace, space and embrace.’ I left reminded of what I call relationship energizers. ( or killers)
Intention matters. So does truly caring. That means prior to relating, you and I have a decision to make. Yes, we must cut off options. Choose. Decide. The decision is; will I be present? Will I intentionally be emotionally, intellectually and physically available while I am with others, relating?
If you’re thinking about the project back at the office, checking in on four-square repeatedly, not asking any questions, or emotionally disconnected; chance is you’re actively sabotaging your relationships. People want to relate with people who make them feel good and no one likes to feel uncomfortable or unimportant. So the first key to energizing your relationships is intend to. Intend to show up, entirely available to interact and engage. Or don’t show up at all!
So you’re intent and fully present; now what? Now it’s time to embrace the ‘other’. What the heck? Sounds a little soft and squishy for you? Think of embracing others as getting out of your own shoes into theirs. Think of it as simply as taking your shoes off at a friends house. What, are you crazy? I don’t want to wear other people’s shoes?
Embracing others is not always comfortable; hello people are weird and mostly difficult. But herein lies the magic of relationships. When you slip your comfortable loafers off and put on my slippers, hiking books or heels you build rapport with me. I feel you embracing me. Embracing the ‘other’ is practicing empathy. As you embrace me you put on the shoes I live life in, the glasses I see through and bit by bit you come to understand and know me. The relationship deepens, it is energized.
Everyone communicates at a different pace. To energize a relationship I embrace the pace of conversation the other person feels most comfortable with. I match pace. I’m not matching and mirroring in a way to be manipulative but rather to increase the comfort of those I communicate with and to build rapport. Once I have rapport I may talk faster or slower, ask more or less questions to break rapport, build rapport and bring attention to specific words and questions. Many high performing, A type individuals talk WAY too fast. Oblivious to the fact that their losing others in their quest to say more, faster. If we agree that relationships are about getting to know others and fostering understanding than its quite natural to see the act of relating as a give and take. In relationships I continually seek to understand MORE than be understood and I look for signs that understanding is growing and rapport is building.The more complex the information, the more foreign the topic I am conversing about the slower the pace needs to be for rapport. You see it’s not about what’s comfortable or normal for you- its about what’s comfortable and normal for the person you are engaging with.
Paper has margin. Why? Music has rest notes. Why? Keyboards have a space bar. Why?
Because Space Matters.
You see white space, margin, quiet provides contrast. It lets you see and hear what is. If all space is covered with letters how would we decipher anything, how would we understand? Space energizes relationships and communication by providing a respite from the onslaught. Often times, what is not said is as important as what is said. Sometimes a silence, longer than normal pause after a question has more meaning than 1,000 words. Great communicators, people who excel at relationships use space to bring meaning and understanding to the conversation.
Here’s a quick communication score card to help you re-energize your relationships and ability to relate!
Do I intend to show up in my relationships fully present- before I show up?
Am I available fully- mentally and emotionally in my personal and professional relationships, encounters?
Do others feel important, valued and listened to by me?
Is it natural for me to slip out of my own shoes and practice empathy, see things from other people’s perspective?
What percentage of the time in my relationships do I ask questions and listen versus talk?
Do I match the pace of the conversation to the person I’m with?
Am I sensitive to how comfortable the other person is?
Am I comfortable with silence, question marks, fewer versus more words?
When I’m talking about something new, complex or foreign do I talk faster or slower, ask more questions or less?
How much attention do I pay to the other person and the clues they provide verbally and physically during our interactions?
Relationships matter. Pace, space, embrace & intent!
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