There are very few people in the world who have become wildly successful or exceedingly happy without the help of other people. At some point in life, every accomplishment can be traced back to a relationship with somebody ... or at the very least ... the influence of somebody else.
So, to some extent, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that it's all about relationships. That's why my speaking and consulting work is focused on "transforming the people side of business ... to help you get the payoffs you want and need."
Unfortunately, all too many self-centered, profit-driven leaders just don't get it. They often overlook the needs of the very people who can help them reach their goals. They don't take the time to invest in those they work with.
They're like the woman who bragged, "My husband and I have a great marriage. There's nothing I wouldn't do for him and nothing he wouldn't do for me. And that's the way we go through life ... doing nothing for each other!"
The problem is ... when a person feels unnoticed or unnurtured, they get restless and start to look elsewhere. Their loyalties and energies begin to stray. And that always weakens a team or a marriage.
By contrast, C. Gene Wilkes notes, "Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers -- so they do not insist on providing them. They believe they do not need to make all key decisions -- so they do not do so. They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members of the team to a common end -- so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intimidate anyone on the team. Ego is NOT their predominant concern."
If you're going to do a better job with the relationships at work and in your life, you must start with a few basics...
1. Demonstrate personal warmth and liking.
In an old "Peanuts" cartoon Charlie Brown says, "I love mankind; it's just people I can't stand."
In other words, it's not enough to theoretically "love" people or "care about" people. You've got to show some real warmth to the people you meet each day. You've got to come across as warm, friendly, likeable, and approachable.
So take a look at yourself. Do you come across as someone who gives off nonverbal "welcoming" signals? Or do you come across as someone who gives off "leave-me-alone" signals?
2. Exhibit even-keeled moods.
At one point or another, you've probably had to work with someone whose moods were constantly going up and down. You never knew how they were going to feel and what they would do. And as a result, they weren't fun or safe to be around.
By contrast, those who build the best relationships on and off the job are fairly consistent in their moods. They are predictable and approachable, and they're basically the same way every time you see them.
How would you describe yourself and the way you handle your moods? More like the first or second paragraph above?
And please, please, please don't tell me you can't help the way you feel. YES YOU CAN. You may not know how to change the way you feel, but your feelings and attitudes are completely under your control. If you don't know how to do that, go back and re-read my book on "PIVOT: How One Change In Attitude Can Lead To Success." (Click here to learn more.)
3. Share some of your weaknesses.
When I have researched various bosses, supervisors, or managers, I've noticed two types: 1) those who cover up their mistakes, and 2) those who readily admit their errors. You might think that coworkers would have more respect for the first type of boss ... the one who never seems to mess up. But that's not the case. When coworkers see what seems to be a "perfect" boss who never makes a mistake, they tend to think "I could never be like that so why bother to try."
In reality, coworkers have more respect for and work harder for the boss who shares some of his weaknesses. They tend to see a boss who is real, who is human, and who can learn from her mistakes. Coworkers tend to identify with those types of bosses, and in the process everybody gets better.
As novelist Ed Howes said, "Express a mean opinion of yourself occasionally. It will show your friends that you know how to tell the truth." Approachable people are honest about their abilities ... and shortcomings. And because they can admit their own faults, they don't have a problem allowing other people to have faults as well.
To build better relationships, embrace the old proverb which says, "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused."
4. Go out of your way to show kindness.
This may sound rather obvious and simplistic, but it's harder than you think ... because we're all busy. I know I am. I could sit at my desk 24/7 for the next 2 years, never eat, never sleep, and never be finished with the projects I'm working on and need to be working on. And the same is probably true of you as well.
So it takes time and effort to stop what you're doing and show an extra measure of kindness to those around you ... whether you call them coworkers, customers, friends, family members, or even strangers. That's why I was especially touched by Susan Fahncke's story...
Many of you may be looking for your purpose in life. Have you ever thought of this? It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply be kind to others.
Others of you may be looking for a ticket to greater success and happiness. Much of that will be found in the relationships you build. And you can't go wrong by using the four relationship-building tips I just gave you in this article.
Action: Look for 3 acts of kindness you can show this week ... and do them.