The quality of our relationships informs the quality of our communities. From this idea we can see that our individual actions influence the wellbeing of the people around us, extending outward from our families to the broader neighborhood and city. We affect our surroundings through our romantic, business, family, social, and professional connections. Now, we all know that communication is central to all human connection, but oftentimes we fail to recognise the importance of how we communicate. The truth is, how we talk and write to each other, and even how we interact physically, has a vast impact on the quality of our social environment and lifestyle.
There are many ways that we interact as human beings. We use sound, body language, sign language, hand gestures, visual cues, touch, taste, instinct, and more to gather information about other people and our surroundings. Being intentional about how you conduct yourself will allow you to strengthen your community for all. Furthermore, handling yourself in an ethical and fair way will open doors for leadership and career advancement.
The current state of the world can make us feel like there are huge communication breakdowns, but if we turn to our own personal networks we will find that our ability to make a positive impact is high. Below are some tips I have gleaned over the years for building trusting relationships.
The principals are taken from the Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends & Influence People while the wisdom and rationale has come to me through studying the Yamas & Niyamas, the ethical behaviors and guidelines to live a yogic lifestyle.
Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Just because you don’t like or agree with someone doesn’t mean they deserve your negative energy.
Give honest and sincere appreciation. Acknowledging someone in a positive way can go further than any long discussion or negotiation. People like to feel appreciated.
Appeal to the nobler motives. We all have love within us. Appealing to the other person’s best intentions can help get them on your side. It also opens the door for a conversation about accountability and trust.
Begin in a friendly way. If you want to have people give you what you want, smile and be open. You never know who the “gatekeeper” is—who might be able to let you in or give you the information you need to be successful. Assuming the best about people will help to establish a baseline of civility and mutual respect.
Let the other person do a great deal of talking. Most of us (if not all) just want to be heard. Especially if we are upset or triggered by something. In a dispute, let the other person say everything they want to say. There is no need in trying to interrupt anyone to make a point because that will only further serve to push the other person away from your point of view.
Ask questions. The emotion of strongly disagreeing with someone can lead you to immediately want to disprove everything they other person just said. Be patient. Start by asking questions to make sure that you fully understand where they are coming from. Offer bits of facts as you talk that back up your point of view. Never be condescending.
Let the other person save face. Allowing everyone to maintain their feelings of safety and sense of self can help to keep lines of communication open. If someone knows that you are not trying to trash their reputation, their trust in you will increase.
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. Publicly naming the valor of a person will orient them to respond accordingly. Giving the person a chance to succeed and show their best self will not only make them feel wonderful, but will help you move your cause along as well.
Make the fault easy to correct. Nothing sucks more than feeling badly about something you have done. This sort of thing can really drag down someone’s self esteem. What people want to know is, “Can I still succeed even though I’m not perfect?”. The answer is always yes. Assuring people that this is true will help their self-esteem and give them the confidence they need to continue to grow.
Throw down a challenge. When you hit a wall and just can’t move forward, offer a challenge to the other person. Let them prove their way or idea is the best one. Sometimes it’s best to let people try something first for them to see that maybe they were not 100% right.