Building Rapport and Cultivating Relationships
Tips from Classic Books that can Help You Succeed
It’s your first day in the new job. Or maybe you’ve made a lateral move to a new department or are taking on a project with a team of people you haven’t worked with before. It can be intimidating if you’re unsure how to form relationships and initiate conversations with your new colleagues. In this article, we’ll pull secrets from some of the all-time best-selling books so that you can easily establish stronger working relationships.
Understanding how to build relationships is not something most people are formally taught. Some folks come by their skills more naturally than others. In business, even if you’re in a remote “heads down” role, there will be times that you will need to interact with others, including people that you don’t know. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the classic bestsellers helping people develop better relationships since 1936. While the book doesn’t include social media etiquette, it offers tips and techniques for navigating a host of situations that are relevant today. For example, how to become a better listener, make a good first impression, handle criticism constructively, build trust with others, influence and persuade others, end an argument politely, and more.
What to Do When You’re the Newbie
When you’re introduced to your new team or department, it’s important to be seen as more than your job title. Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
One of the best ways to start building rapport is by introducing yourself and getting to know your team members personally. Take time to talk about their families, hobbies, interests, etc., so that you learn more about where they come from and what drives them in the workplace.
If you are being introduced to a group, you’ll be at a disadvantage trying to remember the names of many people, while your new colleagues only have to remember yours. Remembering names and pronouncing them correctly is important. Carnegie said, “Names are the sweetest word in any language.”
Dale Carnegie’s tips for remembering names included: associating the name with a visual image to make it easier to remember and repeating the name regularly in conversation with that person. Carnegie also suggested that if someone has a difficult name, come up with an easy-to-remember nickname that can trigger your memory. He also said to smile when saying someone’s name to create a positive connection in people’s minds.
Communicating with Empathy
In Stephen Covey’s books, one of the best pieces of advice he gives on cultivating relationships is to learn how to listen before speaking. Covey espouses the power of active listening, which involves repeating back what you’ve heard and asking questions to gain a better understanding. Additionally, Covey emphasizes the need to understand another person’s point of view and see things from their perspective before forming a judgment or opinion. Relationships are cultivated and strengthened by exercising active listening and understanding each other’s perspectives.
In Getting to Yes, a book by Roger Fisher and William Ury, communicating with empathy is one of its four main principles. According to the authors, empathy involves trying to understand the other party’s situation from their own point of view, listening to what they have to say, and responding in a way that shows you are taking their needs into consideration.
As you engage with new assignments and the work at hand, you can demonstrate empathy by acknowledging people’s efforts and thanking them for taking the time to consider your ideas or providing feedback and suggestions. Pay attention to the details they share with you—such as key ideas, goals, or ways of working—and take mental or written notes on any topics that could be helpful for future conversations. This will demonstrate that you value their opinion and enable good communication between everyone involved.
A “Giving First” Mentality
When you are worried about making a good first impression, it can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to sell yourself or prove your expertise. The wisdom that has lasted the test of time through Carnegie, Covey, and Fisher and Ury, boils down to being selfless and thinking about others first. John C. Maxwell, an American author, speaker, and paster, put it this way, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So don’t stress about your knowledge being tested when you’re building a relationship. Instead, be a sponge for learning about the other person, and give them your attention, appreciation, and genuine interest. You’ll be off to cultivating a new friend and a successful relationship.
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
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