Everyone knows it is important to develop meaningful relationships but not everyone knows how to create them. In today’s society, we are more “connected” than we have ever been but more and more people continue to experience isolation, depression, or a feeling of loneliness in spite of this. Why is that? I believe it’s because Human’s need face to face or verbal interaction versus electronic communication and too few people actually intentionally engage in these types of encounters. With apps like Tinder, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and Shaper, people can meet instantly and connect anywhere in the world, without putting forth any effort. However, that’s just the beginning of a relationship if you start as an electronic “friend”. In a previous article, I talked about your relationships determining your outcome in life and really being the backbone of your success. Why then, wouldn’t we put more effort into meeting and getting to know people? I know apps are easy and they are necessary and I participate as much as anyone, but that isn’t the ONLY thing you need to do when building relationships. In life, business, or any other organization trying to build interactions, you must go beyond the surface and get deep to have a meaningful relationship. I hope to give you some guidance as to how you can build relationships that matter and last below.
1) Find common ground
In a world that is driven by offense and polarization, you must look beyond the things you don’t have in common and search for the things you share in life. Everyone has something in common with someone else even if it is just being human. However, most of us have many things in common such as: Being single, married, having kids, going to a similar school, working in a similar field or the same building, going to the same church or gym, etc. Find it. It’s there.
The biggest misconception people have is that they don’t have something in common with someone else. We all have some connection. It’s a matter of how much you have in common with them that counts.
Overlook the things that separate you and focus on the things that bring you together. With this approach, you now have so many more opportunities for friendships.
2) Be friendly
It is much easier to find friends if you are friendly. I’m not saying you have to be the most outgoing in the world as I know not everyone is wired that way. However, we can all be kind and friendly when we encounter another person. It isn’t hard to be polite and say hello to a stranger. Smile. 9 out of 10 times someone is going to smile back. Try it. I dare you.
People get beat up all day long in life. If you are a nice person, it makes it so much easier for others to be around you. If you are negative, you will attract negative people. That also limits your options as friendly people aren’t attracted to unfriendly people.
Ask people about their lives. Get to know them. Ask them how a situation went that you previously discussed. Genuinely care about others. It’s refreshing when you do it and feels good when you know others care about you as well.
3) Call people by their name
I used to call everyone buddy, pal, or friend. It works for a while. Learn and remember people’s names. They appreciate it. Learn the name, repeat the name, say their name in the conversation and lock it in your memory. The fastest way to build a friendship starts with learning their name. Once you learn the name, you connect on social media. Social media adds to the relationship and can expedite a friendship as well as you learn how much more you have in common.
It’s been said that the best sound a person can here is the sound of their own name. Think about it. How does it make you feel when someone calls you by name? On the flip side, how does it make you feel when someone clearly can’t remember you or your name? Now, which one feels better?
The faster you learn someone’s name, the faster you can start building a foundation for a lasting and meaningful friendship.
4) Realize you are dealing with people
I used to expect everyone to be perfect and my Granddad told me one time, “you’re dealing with people Son, not robots.” It has stuck with me since then and it still took a while for it to truly sink in. No one on this Earth is perfect. You aren’t. I’m not. Therefore, don’t expect perfection in your relationships. Some people will let you down. It happens. Give them a second chance.
Hold people to high standards but don’t write someone off after one mistake. Here’s another thing: Don’t hold people to a higher standard than you hold yourself. If you aren’t able to meet your standards then no one else is probably going to get their either. Be realistic.
5) Engage your friend on a regular basis
Once you have established a friendship, maintain it. It takes two people to grow a friendship or any relationship but once you find one worth having, nurture it. Anything worth having takes work. Relationships are no different.
Coffee, lunch, dinner, or whatever, you need to find ways to get together with the person on a regular basis. The more frequent the conversation, the deeper the relationship will be.
Be transparent and open to build greater levels of trust.
In these fast paced times, it is more difficult to build relationships as people are constantly on the move and everyone has their own agendas. You have to be intentional now more than ever in order to grow your relationships. These are things that have allowed me to grow my relationships abundantly and have genuine and deep connections with many people. I hope these help you get and stay more connected in your relationships as well. God bless you and good luck.