2020 is almost here, and we have another opportunity to build new skills and improve weaknesses. So what should you focus on this year? According to Andrew Sobel, creator of the masterclass Building Relationships That Matter, 2020 should be all about developing strong relationships.
Why? Because when you can’t make real connections with others in the workplace, you struggle to build loyalty and trust. So how do you create those relationships? Through 20 years of research and extensive experience working with over 50,000 professionals, Sobel has identified attitudes and skills that allow us to build solid, trust-based relationships. If you’re looking for a good new year’s resolution, here are some areas to focus on:
Sobel describes it as the willingness to give freely of your time, expertise, experience, and social capital. In other words, it’s not just about giving money (which is what most of us think of); it’s often about being willing to forgive someone who has hurt you or being happy for other people’s good fortunes.
For example: Think about someone in your professional network who has experienced a success or positive development in their life. Speak to them in person, call them up, or write a short note (ideally, not an email or text). Express your admiration and how excited you are for them.
This attitude helps you learn about people, giving you a better basis to build rapport with them. It drives you to understand what’s important to others. The more you learn from those around you, the more proprietary knowledge you’ll accumulate (i.e., stuff you can’t Google!). Curiosity tends to atrophy as we age—but it doesn’t have to. We can intentionally initiate and cultivate it.
For example, when you talk to people you’re trying to form trusted professional relationships with, ask them about their goals, aspirations, and dreams. What have been the most important experiences in their lives and turning points in their careers? If you feel uncomfortable doing this, “practice” with a family member or friend.
Rapport requires effective communication and an understanding of each other’s feelings and ideas. You can’t manipulate others into feeling rapport by, say, simply mirroring body language. People see through such tricks. To create rapport, you must come across as trustworthy, competent, and likeable—and all three qualities require preparation and being present and human.
Ask questions and show an active interest in the other person, which increases trust. And of course, nothing demonstrates competence like being prepared and having a well-developed point of view on the topic you’re discussing.”
A person’s agenda is their top three to five priorities, needs, or goals. It’s what is really important to them over the next six to twelve months. We all have both a professional and a personal agenda. When you understand a person’s agenda, you can add value by helping them meet their goals—by sharing ideas or introducing them to others who can help. You may even anticipate or help shape their future agenda.
“Life is complicated and it’s easy for us to put off relationship development until ‘things settle down’ or we have more free time,” says Sobel. “The problem is, that day never comes. This is how people lose touch, and how relationships atrophy. You have to carve some time out of your schedule, put it on your to-do list, and commit to making it happen. Relationships rarely stay the same—they either deepen and grow, or they wither on the vine.”
Andrew Sobel, creator of masterclass Building Relationships That Matter, is the leading authority on the strategies and skills required to build the relationships that truly matter to your career. He is the most widely published author in the world on this topic, having written eight acclaimed, best-selling books on developing enduring professional relationships. His books have sold over 250,000 copies and have been translated into 21 languages.
Andrew’s programs have been delivered in 52 countries for many of the world’s most successful companies. These include public corporations such as Citibank, Cognizant, Experian, Hess, UBS, and Lloyds Banking Group, as well as private firms such as PwC, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bain & Company, Grant Thornton, Deloitte, and Norton Rose Fulbright. Andrew can be reached at www.AndrewSobel.com.