Connect for Power

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They think you’re alright, but they don’t like you.  They don’t like you because they don’t FEEL like they can relate to you. Intellectually, they know you’re okay, but there’s nothing that cements a connection to you; thus, they can take you or leave you.

Fortunately or not, there are some aspects of human nature that are tough to get around, and there’s no getting around the reality that people support, collaborate, and do business with folks they like.  The problem with the workplace, whether you’re talking about people who are self-employed or who have jobs, is building genuine, healthy relationships.  By healthy and genuine, I mean you’ve got to go from being “alright” to feeling like a solid connection.  Yes, this means finding a way to have boundaries while coming across like a really solid friend.  It’s not an easy tango.  However, there’s a trick to it.  First, accept that everybody won’t like you and give up aiming for that unachievable goal.  Then, aim to be a slightly adjusted version of you, a likeable you.  Nobody accepts you totally as you are.  Even God expects you to evolve.

Below are a few perspectives to ponder to as you aim toward easier connection with others.

1. Be clear about what you want and need right now not so that you can articulate them, but so that you can put up an antennae for win-win relationships.  People need to know that you’re not simply sifting them for your own personal benefit.

2. Identify ways to serve your team or network that also serves your needs. Most importantly, you want to offer something before you make an ask. Further, it is important to look for a win-win because such will help sustain your commitment to whatever it is you choose to help with.  By the same token, do the work to genuinely get to know other people’s goals and needs and help them make meaningful connections.  When you serve others, or at least appear genuinely willing to do so, people don’t mind serving you in return.

 3. Mix up your communications so that you’re not always pitching, angling or asking.  This applies whether you’re communicating in person or via marketing tools, i.e., newsletters.  Occasionally, you should consider simply saying hello and checking in without an expectation.

4. Commit to credibility.  People need to know that they can count on every single time.  They need to know what to expect.  People naturally put others into boxes because it helps them sort and retrieve information quickly.  You can help construct your box by being deliberate about your character, by continuously refining your level of expertise, and by having a consistent demeanor.  If someone can’t anticipate what they’ll get from you, they may choose not to engage you at all.  Even worse, they do know what they’ll get and choose to disengage!  Be deliberate.

5. Reset your default setting to inquiry before anger.  When you interact with people on a regular basis, conflict will arise.  It’s natural, and in some cases, it’s a good thing.  However, if your response to frustration and conflict is anger, whether through sullenness or explosiveness, people won’t feel safe around you and will treat you accordingly. Instead of reacting reflexively with anger, train yourself to respond to frustration by asking questions.  It’s like Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

6. Know what you have to offer and know which aspects of your interests must be protected.  Clarity in these areas are essential because it builds your confidence.  It makes you feel like you have a right to be in the room.  Confident people are easier to connect with because they make you less likely to question whether they can deliver.

7. Engage and show up consistently.  Whether you are a people-person or not, whether you like your team or not, whether you have a lot going on at home or not, people need to see you sometimes.  Choose a “scene” and be a consistent actor.  Whether it’s consistent attendance at internal affinity group events, the monthly team happy hour at the bar with the bartender who can’t get your drink right to save his life, or something else, be a consistent presence.  These types of activities that help people connect with you and believe that the image you project is real.  Yes, people want to know that the person who never gossips actually never gossips, and it’s much easier to figure that out after two cosmos!  By the way, they also want to see you laugh really hard.

8. Go first….or at least be willing to go first.  Whether it’s bringing up a tough topic, addressing conflict, or throwing out an idea, be willing to go first.  Sitting on the sidelines won’t contribute to your reputation as a thought-leader.  Further, depending on the issue, consistently waiting for someone else to go first might get you labeled as someone who jumps on the bandwagon after the heavy lifting has been done.  Essentially, going first helps other people to not only observe your sense of conviction, it also helps them see your intentions.  For this reason, you better be thoughtful about your approach!  Going first doesn’t mean being impulsive.  Think about others and what would make them feel safe and how to achieve safety is you know it’s missing.

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