Positive relationships are the glue that hold an organization together. Without the glue, the organization will fall. Over the years, I have been a part of organizations where the adhesiveness of the positive relationships in the organization was strong. I’ve also been a part of organizations where the relationships were extremely negative and the organization just fell apart.
Majority of the positive relationships are held together with communication. Majority of my time in the classroom is spent teaching students how to build positive relationships with family, friends, and in the workplace. One way to build relationships is through conversation. Conversation, especially multiple conversations over a period of time, builds rapport, trust, openness, etc. through self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is the information we share about ourselves with others. Sharing information helps us discover similarities and intriguing differences between each other.
Today I will share how to carry a conversation.
Step 1: Start a conversation
Start a conversation by saying hello, stating your name, or asking a simple question. Initiation is key when starting a relationship. Tip: Take notice of anything that the person is carrying or wearing that indicates their interest. Example: Band shirts, jerseys, books, skateboard. Say something like: “Hey, I noticed your U2 shirt. Are you a fan? I’m one too.” Yesterday I saw someone with a Good Burger shirt, and I had to start a conversation with him since I am a fan of the movie.
Step 2: Keep the conversation going
Maintain the conversation by asking open-ended questions as opposed to closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions can be answered with one-word responses. Example: What is your major? Closed-ended response: Accounting. Open-ended questions encourage the listener to expand on their answers. Example: What do you like about our psychology class so far? Open-ended response: I like our teacher and the theories are so interesting. My favorite one is……Continue asking questions of interest, but don’t interrogate the person you a carrying a conversation with. I recommend trying to find a topic that excites the person you are talking to, or a topic that they are passionate about. Focus the conversation mostly on them, some people really enjoy sharing, but don’t forget to share something about yourself.
Step 3: End the conversation
This is a tough one. When is it a good time to end the conversation? Sometimes the conversation will naturally exhaust itself out. There is really nothing else that needs to be said. The conversation will eventually start slowing down. This would be a great time to make your exit with an exit statement like: “Well, I hate to end our conversation short, but I have to go. I really enjoyed talking to you. We should do it again sometime”. The statement can also be used if the conversation has not slowed down and you really have to go. If you have to check your watch for the time or your phone towards the end of the conversation, just let the listener know that you’re not trying to be rude, you’re just checking the time really quick since you are on your way to work/class/ etc.
I value relationships. They are vital to our well-being. My relationships have provided me with colleagues, friends, and mentors who have been a source of guidance, wisdom, and opportunities throughout my entire life. I encourage you to cultivate positive relationships in your life today. Start by just talking to someone. If you have no one to talk to, stop my office. I talk to everybody, and I’d love to get to know you.