Really making emotional contact with people, inviting an emotional closeness either in a casual situation or a long-term relationship, requires that we open ourselves to them. It requires that we not put up defensive walls and that we accept others for who they are. – Stuart Brown; Play, How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
I love my work. In fact most of the time it doesn’t even really feel like work at all.
Don’t get me wrong. There are aspects of my job that I would rather not do, like the reams and reams of seemingly unnecessary and redundant paperwork. But I have created a great system and daily routine that I follow in order to get that stuff done so that I can focus on the fun part, the people part.
Now I have made it no secret that according to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment I tend toward introversion rather than extroversion so it may surprise some of you that I like the people aspects of my work more than the technical but it’s true. The fact is everyone falls on a sliding scale between introversion and extroversion and recently psychologists have come up with a new term to describe people who skew closer to the center of the spectrum. They call them Omniverts. Maybe that’s what I should really call myself.
True, I still lean introverted but I can be comfortable in a social setting when called for without having to retreat into a corner most of the time and I honestly do love people, especially in small groups and one on one settings.
According to sociologist Stuart Brown, making emotional connections with people is the key to long term relationships. Here are a few ways I’ve learned over the years to make a lasting connection with clients that remains true to my personal leanings and respects their own boundaries.
1 – Let them lead.
There is nothing more off putting than someone who won’t follow you where you want to go. In conversation with clients small talk often leads to some very interesting and potentially lucrative destinations. Following the kernels dropped my your prospect during small talk can tell your more about that person in a few seconds that hours of well planned “fact finding” ever could. It’s spontaneous, honest and it shows you what your prospect is thinking about right now.
2 – Be honest.
If your client wants to talk about football and you don’t know the difference between a running back and wide receiver (I don’t) tell him that. Don’t try to be interested in something you’re not. Either the prospect will change the subject or he’ll try and educate you. Either way you’ve made a connection and have a basis for further discussion. On an emotional level honesty about the things that excite you and make you happy and the things that frustrate you or make you miserable leads to deeper discussion about the things that matter. Misery Loves Company as they say, and while that can be destructive shared frustration can lead to some great innovations and forward movement. By being honest about where you stand on things you’re opening yourself up to finding common ground and opportunities to work together on things that resonate beyond just the cash register.
3 – Respect the boundaries.
When you follow people’s lead and are honest about how you feel about things people will generally let you into their lives in a deeper and more meaningful way than they otherwise would. But there will always be places that you are never invited to go. Don’t push it. Doing business with friends is always a touchy area, trying to make intimate friendships with people who are business associates first is even harder. Few things can derail a promising business relationship faster than crossing a personal line uninvited.
Everyone has boundaries don’t be afraid to enforce your own as well. Making friends with your client’s is not the problem, so long as everyone is in agreement about the facts of your relationship and no one feels like things have gone too far.
Human beings are emotional creatures. Effective relationships, even business relationships are fraught with emotion. Being in tune with and respectful of emotions, both ours and other peoples is key in building long lasting relationships, both personally and in the business world.
What other things have you learned about emotions in relationships? Tell me your stories…