“Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there is no reason to continue.”
January 2, 2021
When the pandemic hit us in March we all moved online. Now social networks became a place where we communicate, share our thoughts, our values, a place where we learn how to build relationships and then transfer them to real life.
Regardless of what your interest in relationship building is, I just want to share some of the thoughts on how one can become a great relationship builder. Here are the principles that I myself am trying to instill in my interactions with others.
So without further ado let’s dive into it.
1. Find love for people in your heart.
I believe, that if you want to become a truly great relationship builder you need to fundamentally love people.
We all are very different so you will most likely find your own way to love for others in your heart. The only thing that I can do is to share how I go about seeing this matter.
My relationship building starts with the heart, and by heart I mean spirit.
You have to develop spiritually.
Close your eyes, sit in silence, and dig deep to find out who you truly are. And the first thing you need to begin with is to start discarding all the notions that you have about yourself. Go through all the concepts of self that you have in your mind and ask — is that really you?
- Your name.
Is that you or is it just a word that your parents came up with to call you?
- Your body.
Is that you or is it just a physical shell that you dwell in?
- Your job.
Is that you or is it just what you do — the activity you occupy yourself with?
- Your family status.
Is that you or is it just a role that you play with your relatives?
- Your sexual orientation.
Is that you or is it just a preference you have, a taste, like a particular taste for food for example?
- Your beliefs. Is that you or is are those things you’ve naturally absorbed from this world — your family, your country, your religious community?
I can go on but I want you to continue this self-inquiry yourself. I want you to dissect and examine everything you believe is true about yourself. Bring it to light, and then drop everything that you’ve found is not you.
See what’s left when you give up everything.
So you must be thinking — why are we talking about spirituality when our topic is relationship building?
The reason why I’m telling you this is simple.
It becomes very easy to love other people once you understand that there are no other people.
Once every one of us will drop the egoic conditioning of the mind, we’ll be able to see that behind the curtains of the thinking mind that there is no one else and nothing else left.
In this nothingness, we are all the same. And we are not just the same. We are one. Everything that exists is you. And you are everything that exists.
Of course, in our day-to-day life, we operate in the world using our ego, and when our ego interacts with the egos of others the misunderstandings are inevitable. We are not Buddhas. It is hard to love those who live and work with you, let alone love beings that are in a deep sleep stuck in the illusions of the thinking mind, corrupted with resentment and anger. But that is the path. We all have to learn how to see through our own and other people’s egoic conditioning and see what is behind — see Oneness, see unity, see God.
2. Study human psychology.
As we just mentioned, we all operate in this world using our egos so in order to be effective in your relationship-building one needs to understand how the human psyche works.
Adding psychology to your wealth of knowledge significantly contributes to the perceivable complexity of the world, but it also makes living much easier.
The more you learn about human psychology the more you understand that we are not that sophisticated after all.
Look at the famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for example. It is all there.
We want our physiological needs to be fulfilled first. Once we don’t need to take care of water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, and sex, we start caring about safety needs — personal security, employment, health, and wealth accumulation.
Along with that, we seek a sense of love and belonging. We want to build friendships, families, and we try to connect with one another.
Level 4 is our need for Esteem. Self-respect, social status, and recognition of others, a sense of strength and freedom — this is what we look for at this level.
Lastly, when all four levels are closed, we seek to fulfill the need for self-actualization — realizing our full potential and becoming the best version of ourselves.
Interestingly enough, it is through fulfilling the self-actualization need that we can learn how to be more effective in closing the needs at the first four levels. It is also interesting, that if our Level 1 needs are not met, we care very little about anything else but ourselves. A worker of any hospital that treats terminal patients will tell you: no dying man wants to change the world.
To be a master relationship builder you need to develop this ability to sense intuitively or deduce intellectually (whatever works for you best) what are the needs of the person in front of you.
If you fundamentally love people, you want to help them. If you want to be effective in helping people, you must learn how to be effective in identifying their needs.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What does this person truly want?
- What is that he or she is trying to achieve by means of this conversation?
This is important because what people will tell you will oftentimes be very different from what their actual needs. You have to learn how to read between the lines, how to discern and see through the nature of underlying motivators.
So that is it. Give people what they need, and they will love you.
3. Understand how your mind works.
Obviously, studying psychology goes both ways. On one hand, you do want to understand what makes other people tick, but on the other, understanding how your own mind works is vital.
Meditate on the following:
- How do other people see me? Do I come across as professional? Competent? Warm? Kind? Compassionate?
- What is my communication style? Do I listen enough or do I talk too much about myself?
- Is there something within the circle of my control that I can do in order to improve my presentation and appearance? How can I enhance my first impression and how can I make it last?
- What do I seek and appreciate in other people? And what are the things that I can’t stand in them?
- What is my purpose for having this particular conversation? What is that I want to gain from this relationship? What is that I am willing to give?
If you practice introspection long enough you will soon discover something that is absolutely crucial to understand at some point in your life.
The insight is the following:
All relationships take place mostly in your mind.
Of course, the relationship starts when two people meet each other. The conversation online, a little spark of connection between the two pairs of eyes, a day spent together in work or leisure — this is how the relationship begins.
But when two people part, the relationship carries on. You know it from your previous experiences in life. When your loved ones depart, they are no longer physically present with you, but the relationship continues in your heart.
If you want to be great with your relationships you will eventually have to arrive at this realization. And if the spiritual perspective does not appeal to you, take this — the psychological one.
All relationships are inside your head.
Accept this. If something doesn’t work in your relationship with others, something is dysfunctional within you.
- Had a fight with your partner? Now the fight lives within you.
- Have a conflict with your boss? You’ve planted the conflict within yourself.
- You think that all people are cruel, jealous, and live by the principle homo homini lupus (“that man is a wolf to another man")? You will find the experiential confirmation for that in the world.
- You think that all people are gracious, luminous, loving beings? You will find the experiential confirmation for that too.
You want to be at peace with yourself? Fix your relationships.
Forgiving others is forgiving yourself.
So how do you start a relationship off the right foot?
4. Understand how to build trust.
Do not obsess too much by learning the principles of trust-building. If you know yourself well, and if you are not afraid of showing who you are to others, building trust won’t be an issue.
But let me summarize the key principles that will help you on the way.
1. Find similarities.
Principle number 1: we like those who are like us.
We are just hardwired that way and this mechanism is nothing but a result of human evolution. If you are sharing the same traits, you are my tribe, you are not a threat, so I can feel safe in your presence and we can share a meal.
Try to find something in common early in the conversation and you will see how easy it becomes to carry on.
2. Embrace the awkwardness.
It feels awkward when you are not sure about how you will be perceived. When you are deeply grounded in the truth about who you are and what you stand for this stops being an issue.
Address the elephant in the room: “Is it just me or is it really awkward?” Have a few laughs about that and observe how the tension dissipates.
3. Let them be themselves.
Principle number 2: we like those with whom we can be ourselves.
Wearing masks and pretending to be better than you are requires alertness. Mental alertness requires attention. Attention depletes energy. And there is no brain that wants to spend more energy than it is required.
Make other people's lives easier by communicating to them both verbally and non-verbally that it is okay to be yourself and that you won’t judge them.
Practice unconditional acceptance.
It really does help if you say it out loud: “hey, all cool, feel free to share, I won’t judge you" but it will only work if you indeed do not judge.
In order to be non-judgmental, you need to be on the top of your game — both spiritual and mindset game.
From a spiritual perspective, accept this: all sorts of judgment is done by the ego. Any kinds of assessments, evaluation, inner commentary, or narrative are being produced by the egoic entity. No judgment can take place in the space which you are.
From the mindset perspective, everything becomes really easy if you take the stance: “I am f**ked up. You f**ked up. And that’s totally fine. We are both imperfect and our judgment is imperfect. So let’s not agree to make this is a safe place — a place of non-judgment. We are just two imperfect beings having this conversation at this point of time and space.”
Keep things light and the other party will come to appreciate it. And of course there is another thing that you can do to ease things up.
If you freely express that you also have problems, you are troubled, you have your concerns, worries, and insecurities, you communicate that you are cool about it and it is safe to share, but also you show that you are courageous. Showing that your vulnerability is always an act of courage that deserves admiration and invites reciprocation.
Obviously, you should come from “hey, I am an open book, and I don’t mind telling you about my weaknesses" kind of place, and not from a place “let me dump all my problems and dirty secrets on you.”
Everything requires a balance. And finding this balance requires practice.
What you reading here was written only to help you to recalibrate your mindset. Once the mindset is set in motion, all this relationship-building game will take care of itself in the process.
So speaking of mindsets,
Always give more than you take.
When people say I have nothing to give, I ask them to take a closer look. A gift of time and undivided attention — this is the most precious gift one human being can give to another.
Be fully present in the moment. Do not think about what to say next. Allow yourself to be spontaneous. Keep reminding yourself that, the beauty of human conversation is happening right here, right in this very moment. Do not miss it stranded in the maze of your own mind. Be genuinely interested in what another being has to say.
Speak less, listen more.
“If your mouth is open you are not learning anything new.” This is another mindset piece 🧩 that will move you forward.
If you speak, you only regurgitate what you already know. Listen not to make another person feel better. Listen to understand.
Because this is what all of us want. We don’t want to be just heard. We want to be understood.
Hence next tip.
Learn how to ask deep questions.
Small talk is shallow. The depth of the relationship directly depends on the depth of the conversations that take place. And the depth of the conversation is measured by the depth of the questions asked.
Be gentle but nudge people to dig deeper within themselves. Don’t worry about the consequences of your inquiry, there will be no harm. On the contrary, the more they discover about themselves in the conversation with you, the stronger will be the trust, the more they will see you as a great conversationalist.
Ask questions like “why”, “how”, “what else”, “what specifically”, and “for what purpose”. “What was the real challenge”, “What was the impact”, “how did it affect you”, “what is the lesson learned”, and “what are you going to do next”.
Once you identify what they need. Help them to achieve it.
Think selfless service. Think value. Be as egoless as possible.
Tell yourself: “Every conversation that I engage in is not about me.” Live by this principle. And see what happens.
4. Take notes while you listen.
This is a little trick that I use all the time. Since most of the conversations we are having now are online, you can open a digital notebook on the side (I use Evernote), and take notes about the person — family, hobbies, history, personal preferences, date of birth, as you go. Create your own CRM system where you keep all the data on your connections.
You want to blow their minds in their conversations?
Bring up a personal fact from your previous convo. And when they will see that, they will know that you care enough to remember.
Triggering positive emotions at will. That is the true mastery of relationship building.
People might forget what you say, they might forget how you looked on the day, but they will never forget how you make them feel.
5. Keep in touch.
Stay on top of your important connections.
We all get caught up in the routine. We talk to so many people to get our work done that when we finally have free time for ourselves we want to just shut down our screens and spend some time alone.
Be alone. Before you touch base with anyone else, you owe it to yourself. You have to be in touch with the source. If you remember who you are, you can be it, and when you are it, it shines through you in your every interaction inviting the divine in others to reveal itself.
But when you do come back into the social game, make small touchpoints with those who matter. Again, it is the depth, not the frequency.
6. Stroke their ego.
And again I will repeat myself. We use ego to operate in this world. When two people are communicating with each other, it is two egos that are doing the talking.
Say things that make people feel good.
Complement their appearance, recognize their achievements, emphasize your understanding of the significance and scale of the work they are trying to accomplish.
But again, know the balance.
Do not do it in some kind of manipulative “dark psychology” NLP way.
If you say something, say it from the heart. Mean it. Do not utter the words of admiration, if there is no event of admiration that has taken place inside you. Do not show respect, if you don’t feel that the person earned your respect. To not express gratitude, if you do not feel grateful.
Be courteous, be polite, be well-mannered at all times. But never ever be fake.
If authenticity is like perfume, hypocrisy is like a stench.
People will smell it on you no matter how hard you try to hide it.
So there you have it. I tried to be exhaustive but concise.
If you’re reading this, it means there is a curiosity in you. And if you are curious, it means you’re on the right track. You want to know how to live life well. How to get along with others. How to help them progress on their paths and how to learn to accept their help when they meet you on yours.
With that, I leave you today.
Go and be the master relationship builder you already are.
Authentic, selfless, thoughtful, mindful, conscientious, caring, grounded in truth.