1. Relax Optimistically
If you are comfortable around others, they will feel comfortable around you. If you appear nervous, others will sense it and withdraw. If you are meeting someone for the first time, brighten up as if you’ve rediscovered a long-lost friend. A smile will always be the most powerful builder of rapport. Communicating with relaxed optimism, energy and enthusiasm will provide a strong foundation for lasting relationships.
2. Listen Deeply
Powerful listening goes beyond hearing words and messages; it connects us emotionally with our communication partner. Listen to what the person is not saying as well as to what he or she is saying. Focus intently and listen to the messages conveyed behind and between words.
Listen also with your eyes and heart. Notice facial expressions and body postures, but see beneath the surface of visible behaviors. Feel the range of emotions conveyed by tone of voice and rhythm of speech. Discern what the person wants you to hear and also what they want you to feel.
3. Feel Empathetically
Empathy is the foundation of good two-way communication. Being empathetic is seeing from another person’s perspective regardless of your opinion or belief. Treat their mistakes as you would want them to treat your mistakes. Let the individual know that you are concerned with the mistake, and that you still respect them as a person. Share their excitement in times of victory, and offer encouragement in times of difficulty. Genuine feelings of empathy will strengthen the bond of trust.
4. Respond Carefully
Choose emotions and words wisely. Measure your emotions according to the person’s moods and needs. Words can build or destroy trust. They differ in shades of meaning, intensity, and impact. What did you learn when listening deeply to the other individual? Reflect your interpretation of the person’s message back to them. Validate your understanding of their message.
Compliment the person for the wisdom and insights they’ve shared with you. This shows appreciation and encourages further dialogs with the individual. A response can be encouraging or discouraging. If you consider in advance the impact of your emotions and words, you will create a positive impact on your relationships.
5. Synchronize Cooperatively
When people synchronize their watches, they insure that their individual actions will occur on time to produce an intended outcome. Relationships require ongoing cooperative action to survive and thrive.
As relationships mature, the needs and values of the individuals and relationship will change. Career relationships will require the flexibility to meet changing schedules and new project goals. Cooperative actions provide synchrony and build trusting alliances. They are part of the give and take that empowers strong, enduring relationships.
6. Act Authentically
Acting authentically means acting with integrity. It means living in harmony with your values. Be yourself when you are with someone else. Drop acts that create false appearances and false security.
When you act authentically, you are honest with yourself and others. You say what you will do, and do what you say. Ask for what you want in all areas of your relationships. Be clear about what you will tolerate. Find out what your relationship partners want also. Being authentic creates mutual trust and respect.
7. Acknowledge Generously
Look for and accentuate the positive qualities in others. Humbly acknowledge the difference that people make to your life. Validate them by expressing your appreciation for their life and their contributions. If you let someone know that they are valuable and special, they will not forget you. Showing gratitude and encouragement by words and actions will strengthen the bonds of any relationship.
Don’t forget to acknowledge your most important relationship: the relationship with yourself. Acknowledge your own qualities, and put those qualities into action. You cannot form a stronger relationship with others than you have with yourself. You will attract the qualities in others that are already within you.
Ask yourself: What thoughts and behaviors will attract the kind of relationships I desire? What is one action I could take today that would empower my current relationships?
Write down all the qualities or behaviors that you desire for your relationships. Select the power skills that will attract those qualities. Keep a journal of the actions you take and the progress you make. By turning these skills into lifelong habits, you will build relationships that are healthy, strong and mutually rewarding.