Creating meaningful relationships is one of the biggest investments a person can make into their personal and professional development and it represents the foundation of every society. Humans are not solitary beings, we feel good when we’re surrounded by like-minded people, who share our interests, values and beliefs.
As Richard Branson states, building meaningful relationships with people that you admire, who are successful, knowledgeable and trusted individuals is one of the best things you can spend your time doing. And while not everyone will be able or willing to help, you only need one person to believe in you and the rest will follow.
Peoples’ decisions are most of the times biased and are influenced by their perceptions of you. And peoples’ perceptions of you depend on how you relate to their expectations; these perceptions are neither logical nor rational, because they are mostly based on emotions and feelings.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglia
Therefore, the way you make people feel determines their reaction: to like you or not – either personally or professionally. These perceptions are based on the following main factors:
1. Your physical appearance
Yes, people are visual beings – both men and women. Physical appearance plays a very important role in society, and sometimes it can be discriminatory to both genders. Generally speaking, you have to make a good first impression for people to go beyond your appearance and become interested about the rest. Dressing appropriately, maintaining a high level of personal hygiene and wearing a smile are must-haves nowadays.
2. Your personality
Each of us has a unique personality that differentiates us from other people, and understanding someone’s personality gives us clues about how that person is likely to act and feel in a variety of situations. Our personalities form our character. People with strong personalities seem to have higher influence on others, but at the same time can be intimidating to those who are less confident. Even though a strong personality can be considered a strength, it could also be a weakness, especially in the workplace where it’s expected of you to fit in. Knowing how to adapt to each situation is essential.
3. Your attitude
People with a positive attitude tend to have an optimistic view towards life, even in difficult situations – they tend to see the glass half-full. On the other end, those with a negative attitude tend to be pessimistic, and not able to fully enjoy life as they constantly criticize and seek the downside of everything. Finding the right people to surround yourself with is the key. You can usually get a sense of someone’s attitude right away if you are aware of the things that are important to you, by asking them relevant questions and paying attention to their answers, as well as their body language.
4. Your listening skills
In the relationship building process it’s crucial to effectively listen to the other person’s message. Only by listening we’ll be able to assess the information directed towards us and respond accordingly. Moreover, when we truly listen we engage in the conversation, focusing on the speaker and not on ourselves. Active listening requires the listener to provide feedback on what (s)he hears from the speaker. This is not limited only to paraphrasing their words, but also acknowledging their feelings. Would you develop a relationship with a person who’s not able to show a genuine interest in you?
5. Your mutual interests
The majority of relationships are built around shared interests. When you find like-minded people you start feeling comfortable with them right away, as if you’ve known each other forever. It’s very important to have a clear vision of your values and interests to be able to recognize them in others. You’ll be able to strive only by connecting with people who share most of them – so do yourself a favor and don’t indulge in relationships that don’t bring you value, or even worse, take out all of your energy. If a relationship requires you to compromise on what you value the most, it’s simply wrong – you’d better move on.
6. Your relationship with yourself
The way you feel about yourself is reflected directly in the way you treat others. It’s very common for people with low self-esteem to treat people poorly and also to blame them for what happens in their life. The best ways to develop a good relationship with yourself are: caring for your needs, focusing on what makes you happy, making time for yourself, and being your own best friend. Also, acknowledging and being grateful for everything that you already have.
7. Your ability to give unconditionally
Unconditional giving is offering something because you want to, not because you feel like you have some sort of obligation, or for other ulterior motives. The more you give, the more you receive – it’s the universal law of reciprocity. You may be familiar with the expression “paying it forward” – how about applying it in your daily life and your relationships with others?
In the end, building meaningful relationships is not a difficult task when you focus on the essential factors described above and apply them regularly. Moreover, when you keep in mind the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated – or even better, the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your life.
“There is a real danger that computers will develop intelligence and take over. We urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain so that computers can add to human intelligence rather than be in opposition.” ~ Stephen Hawking