Lean in to your emotions for true connection.

by Christopher D. Connors

Mutually beneficial relationships are what lead to growth and tremendous opportunities. As much as we seek to advance our own cause or profit, we learn in life that we elevate ourselves most when we seek to advance the cause and goals of the people we meet.

This principle of the law of reciprocity means we must lead with giving value to others if we aim to receive value in return. And the importance is not to dismiss your kind act as merely “nothing.” It’s to aim for continued growth.

New York Times bestselling author, Robert Cialdini, who wrote the book Influence, talks in HBR about furthering relationships by using self-awareness to your advantage.

Get in the habit of helping people out, and — this part’s really important — don’t wave it away when people thank you. Don’t say, “Oh, no big deal.” We’re given serious persuasive power immediately after someone thanks us. So say something like “Of course; it’s what partners do for each other” — label what happened an act of partnership

So many people jump right in, trying to make money or “living the dream” without building relationships. Or worse yet, once they work to “build” a relationship, they do so under the guise of mutually beneficial gain, while only concerning themselves in thought and action with themselves.

As the author of a bestselling book on emotional intelligence and an executive coach that works with Fortune 500 leaders, I can assure you you’re worse off if you ever succeed in doing this. Because sooner or later, the joke will be on you, and you’ll find yourself worse off than where you began.

We need relationships to survive. We need people to lean on in times of adversity and lost hope. We need people to coach and mentor us when we don’t know the way. We need people to open doors for us that otherwise would remain closed.

We need people who care to motivate, inspire and enable us to see in ourselves the image — the person — that we’ve always wanted to become.

Business. Life. Personal and Professional Growth are about relationships. Here are five proven ways to build powerful, lasting relationships with emotional intelligence that yield value for each person.

1. Give Without Expecting Anything in Return

This advice is timeless because it is the single-best way to build relationships and positively influence people. When you’re meeting with someone, show them what you can do for them. Don’t just tell them. If you want someone to experience meaningful value, give it to them and do so with maximum impact.

This is so significant because it flips the paradigm so many people operate under: Many people are unsuccessful at building relationships because they’re only in it for themselves.

Well, guess what? If the world worked that way, none of us would get anything! This is a narrow-minded focus and it doesn’t work in business or in personal relationships. So, don’t just think about giving value to others. Show them. Prove to them what value you can give them. Think about something that you’re good at. What expertise do you have? What knowledge can you share with someone else that will enrich their life?

It’s wise to go into a meeting or conversation with an objective of what you want to get out of it. I think you’ll find that you’ll have so much more if you lead with generosity and service instead of only focusing on your own wants and needs.

2. Show someone that you care with empathy and compassion

Have a passionate curiosity around learning more about the people you already know, as well as the people you haven’t met yet. A great way to start here is to think about the things you admire in other people. Paint a very clear picture and visualize in your mind what it is about them that makes you curious and enthusiastic about wanting to know them.

Psychiatrist and researcher Helen Riess, wrote The Empathy Effect where she talkd about the powerful bond of empathy:

“All parties are equally enriched when we perceive and respond to each other with empathy and compassion,” she writes. “After all, it’s the human bond that adds the music to the words in life.”

3. Find a common bond (past) and determine how to leverage that to grow with that person (future)

The pieces of who we are form and assemble from our past. Connections, impactful moments, ways that we self-identify, these are formed from the experiences of our past. Find a common bond that you share with someone else. It could be an alumni connection, sports league or hobby that has been a huge part of your life.

Think about what you might have in common, then listen. Focus on the other person and give that person your undivided attention and you will realize the importance of listening. Keep your ears open and you’ll discover themes in their story or their experience that might crossover with your own.

You can become a detective. Get to know them. Schedule time to get on their calendar and meet at a time and location that is convenient for them. Ask them questions.

What makes them tick?

How do they define success?

What do they love?

What do they really want out of life?

When you’re curious and inquisitive, your enthusiasm and passion show. In other words — the best parts of you show. Isn’t that how you want to represent yourself?

In order to build with someone into the present and future, we have to know where they’ve been. Maybe we’ve shared experiences and dreams that are very similar.

4. Take that meeting with someone successful, even if you think YOU won’t get something out of it.

There’s always something to learn. I don’t believe, at least in short-term theory, about Mark Cuban’s advice about only taking a meeting for money. For one, that’s a very short-term strategy and way of looking at things. But hey, maybe that’s the way one feels when they become one of the richest people in the world!

But it’s not the way I feel, because I’ve learned so much from taking meetings and getting mentoring and advice from others. Successful people are usually willing to share how they’ve gotten to where they have. Listen up and go in without your own agenda. You may come out with more wisdom than you could have imagined.

5. Be mindful and on the lookout for innovative ideas and opportunities

Last but not least, become adept at reading between the lines. We don’t always know what we’ll hear. That meeting we take that might have originated under the auspices of trying to find a new job might lead to the idea that helps us frame-up the purpose and mission for our lives.

Be opportunistic. Keep an open mind and you will never go wrong. Live by values and LEAD with values. Be true to your word. Be a person of integrity. I’ve created and cultivated powerful relationships by following these five principles. They’re yours to use. You’ll flourish if you put them into practice.

Show the people around you that you care about them and that you’re willing to put them first. This is the mark of a true leader. Great leaders are vulnerable and unselfish. They build relationships. Ultimately, they thrive by exhibiting this behavior and in so doing, they earn the respect of all.

Concluding Thoughts

I close with emphasizing the importance of keeping an open mind and identifying opportunities, even where you think they may not exist. Last year, I wasn’t looking to write a new book. I was focused on my business. But a chance conversation with an acquisitions editor at a publisher led me to writing a bestselling book on emotional intelligence.

When I took the meeting, I wasn’t even sure anything would come of it. I had become so mindful of “not wasting my time” that I nearly missed a golden opportunity. The editor was based in California, but like me, was also a Long Island native. We hit it off — we both sold each other on the importance of putting this book into the marketplace. And it’s been a huge success.

Open-mindedness, adaptability and self-awareness are requirements for building thriving relationships with emotional intelligence. May these examples light the way for you to thrive in your life and career.

In the spirit of building relationships, reach out and connect with me here.

Originally published by Christopher D. Connors for Mind Cafe on Medium.com.


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