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3 Steps to go from Linking to Liking

As our technology has developed, we have evolved from keeping physical address books, rolodexes and contact lists to using sophisticated online databases that discern between our friends, acquaintances and clients. We no longer have to remember birthdays or anniversaries or miss congratulating a friend because we heard about an achievement too late, because now we are automatically advised of such occasions through social media, smart phones and CRM systems.11415f8

Networking events no longer hold the worry that if we don’t contact someone immediately after an event we will have lost the opportunity forever, because social media sites now allow contact to be made at the click of a link. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook allay our fears that we might lose contact with someone whom we don’t want to meet regularly for coffee, but we do want to advise of something we have in common in the future. We can announce events and give calls to action to sign petitions because online social networking means we can invite large numbers of people to physical functions, knowing that not everyone will turn up but enough people will attend that we won’t be doomed to be alone. We can ask people to endorse our services or ‘Like’ our Facebook page in the hope that suddenly thousands will see our services. Surely this is Nirvana, where the efficiency of social media creates hours of leisure for us as a result of streamlining our social and business communications?

The reality is that we seem to have less time now than ever before. We become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information directed at us and are pulled in all directions, often finding it hard to focus and concentrate. Increasingly, stories are heard of important business and personal relationships ended by text message, the sender saved from having to experience the emotional reactions of the receiver. Then we are told at the network event that ‘People only do business with people they like’ – and this doesn’t mean clicking the Like button on Facebook. Something has gone terribly wrong, because now we can feel more alone than ever, and feel pressured to do even more to have successful relationships.

For instance, whilst we may smugly smile in the knowledge that we have reached five hundred-plus LinkedIn connections, so many connections that the counter stops registering them, how many of these people do we really know? How many of our connections or Facebook friends would, if asked, bail us out of a difficult situation at 3 a.m?

It is true that whilst we may engage with large numbers of people, most of us only spend physical time with people we trust. In business, we buy and partake of other people’s products and services if we trust them. To be successful in both personal and professional life, we have to do more than connect occasionally on social media – we have to move from being linked to being liked, and that’s going to involve giving something personal of ourselves. We have to really communicate and connect to build trust and effective relationships.

My 3C’s of Communication comprises three elements:

Each of these progressive stages requires us to give something of ourselves beyond the standard LinkedIn Invite and Facebook Liking.

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1. Connect

We all know the phrase, ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression’. So when meeting people for the first time, do something memorable that fits in with your values. People like to be asked with real interest about what is important to them. Instead of the standard ‘So what do you do?’, engage with people in a playful way that shows genuine interest. Ask them questions about what inspires them or what were the key points that resonated with them from whatever event you are attending. Be open to the reality that your first impressions based on appearance or style might be very wrong. Many opportunities are lost when people are quickly dismissed, when they may be just the people you need to meet.

2. Communicate

Connections are made when we really communicate with others. If we are good communicators we listen and take interest in other people and eloquently convey what we want to say. We read the signs that indicate the other person is confused or bored, and use appropriate words to rectify this and maintain rapport. We constant challenge our assumptions about what others mean and use sophisticated skills to check out details and meanings behind a speaker’s message. These communication skills contribute to being liked because the ones we are connecting with feel understood and respected, and that they have not been ‘talked at’ but communicated with. These skills are invariably lost online ‘Liking’ unless we really reach out to clarify what we mean.

3. Collaborate

The quality of our relationships equals the quality of our communication, so if we invest time and energy in becoming exquisite communicators, we lay foundations that allow us to take advantage of opportunities for collaboration. Collaboration is the process by which we come together to create something bigger than ourselves. Trust is essential, or we cannot open ourselves to being challenged or put aside preconceived ideas of what we expect from the connection. When each of us comes to the table with our skills, aspirations and qualities in a context of trust and effective communication, collective projects can be enacted that are not possible when we work alone.
The 3C’s of Communication can be applied to every social situation, whether in business or personal life. Lots of connections are made through networking, but they only become meaningful if we really communicate effectively with others beyond the limitations of social media. Not all of us go on to collaborate, but by communicating effectively we are more likely to be accepted and remembered by people than if no effort is made beyond clicking a ‘Like’ button. Amazing collaborations can arise when real and lasting connections are made and the foundations of effective and ongoing communication are put in place.

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Is it too late to say what you really want to?

Everyone has the experience of walking away from a conversation wishing they had addressed something important in the exchange. It might be a desire to clarify the intentions or values behind what the other person said, or to tell the other person that they are behaving badly or don’t seem to mean what they say. How do you keep an open mind so you can clarify what’s going on and educate the other person about how you want them to treat you?

The 3-step ATOMS Method is a simple process to help you:

  1. Examine Assumptions
  2. Remain Tentative and Open Minded
  3. Say what you want to say and educate other people how to treat you.

Step 1: Examine Assumptions

Write down the assumptions you have about what is going on. Your assumptions may not be what the other person intended or what is going on for both people, but they are real for you. Don’t censor these; just make a note of them so you know what is going on in your head that needs to be checked out.

Step 2: Remain Tentative and Open-Minded

Tell the other person what assumptions you are holding as a result of the exchange. Do this is in a tentative and open-minded way, allowing them to clarify their intentions with you and advise whether your assumptions are correct or not. They may, of course, deny that they come across in a certain way; they may say you are exaggerating. However, if you raise the issues in an open-minded, questioning way, you allow them to ‘keep face’ and set the record straight. You may still believe that they are not admitting to their intentions, but you will be positioned differently because you have noticed and raised the issue. In future, the other person will not forget that you are prepared to talk about these things.

Examples:

In our recent meeting, it appeared that everyone had a chance to contribute except me.  Is that how you see it?

In our last conversation, I felt you undermined the effort I’ve made on this project.  Did you mean to do this or have I interpreted you incorrectly?

I always feel I’m the one to make the plans.  It’s as if you think this is not a joint responsibility.  Am I right?

 

Step 3: Speak out and educate the other person how to treat you

After discussion and the opportunity to clarify intentions (or point out what you have experienced), it is time to say how you want things to be different in future. This often requires you to say how you want to be treated in future, and how the relationship could be improved.

Examples:

When you say there isn’t time to include my input, I feel undermined.  It would be really helpful in future if you would allow time for me to contribute so I feel I’m treated equally.

Thank you for saying you didn’t allow time for my ideas to be considered properly.  In future, I would like to raise this sort of issues this as they happens.  Can you see us being able to discuss it as it happens, or can you suggest an alternative to ensure we both feel our ideas are explored properly?

Whilst there are numerous techniques that could be used to ensure discussion flows easily, the ATOMS method is a starting point from which to visit issues that often are left unexamined. Whatever the other person’s response, you will feel more empowered when you speak out and educate others about how to treat you. If issues are left unexamined, you may feel resentful towards others, and towards yourself, for not raising them.

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7 Questions for a Better Year

Every year, thousands of people make New Year resolutions, each of them determined to change their lives or aspects of them. By the third or fourth of January, many have broken them and by the middle of the month, most have forgotten them completely, yet alone used them as the impetus to change their lives. What is this collective urge to usher in a New Year, determined to make it different from the previous one?

Why are so many people failing to put in place the changes they believe will transform their lives?

New Year Resolutions are often made in response to a self-censoring of one’s behaviour or punishment for not doing what they believe will bring happiness. Giving up smoking, losing weight or getting fit are often at the top of the list when it comes to the top ten resolutions. Self-disgust, low self esteem or admonishment by others is often the reason for making resolutions. When we look at New Year resolutions, they are focused on changing aspects of one’s unacceptable behaviour – rarely are they couched in terms that reflect a larger vision for our lives or the values that might underpin a personal mission for what we want lives are about.

Thus, conscious and unconscious resistance to the punishments that resolutions demand, sabotage us from keeping them. The outcome is that we continue our lives as before with humour, cynicism or increased self-loathing for our inability to change. We risk, as Henry Thoreaux said ‘Living a Life of Quiet Desperation’.

What alternatives are there for changing aspects of our lives in more productive and nurturing ways?

The following seven questions help you look at your life more strategically so changes you desire can be assessed in terms of their alignment with your vision and desires.

  1. What do you really want to do with your life? What do you want your life to stand for and how would you like to be remembered?
  2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Don’t answer this question within the constraints of what you believe is currently possible. Think big and worthy dreams.
  3. What are your values and what is so important to you that you would stake ‘even life itself’ to act in ways to celebrate these values?
  4. What thoughts, feelings and actions do you believe align with achieving your vision, values and dreams of how you want your life to be?
  5. What stops you from achieving the life you so desire? What reasons do you give yourself for not having what you want? Do you blame others for your failures or are you taking full responsibility for your own life?
  6. What reasons do you give yourself for not having what you want? Do you blame others for your failures or are you taking full responsibility for your entire life?
  7. What do you need to do to support achievement of your desired life? If those supports are not in place, what stories do you tell yourself for why this is so?

 

By asking these and similar questions, you can create a pen picture of the life you want. Take that picture and set goals, targets and the means for measuring and assessing your success.

The late Earl Nightingale once said ‘Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal’. Dare to dream something worthy and examine your thoughts, feelings and actions to assess the extent to which you are progressively realising it.

New Year Resolutions are temporary ways to assuage the anxiety of not living the life you truly want. They provide a temporary salve hoodwinking you into believing that positive change is on the horizon.

This year, replace your New Year resolutions with value aligned ways to create a life that is worth living so temporary setbacks no longer determine your success or failure.

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KPI’s for our relationships?

How can you measure the quality of your relationships? In business, people say ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!’

Can we take something from this principle and learn something important about our relationships?

Watch this short video and learn how simple measurement principles could help you understand how you can ensure your efforts are bringing a return.

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