Why is it that we often fall so short in our influence with the colleagues, friends and family that matter the most to us? Because we assume we know what they want and need even though we don’t 99.9% of the time.
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve started down a path with someone only to find out I’m on the wrong road. To make matters even worse, my approach has caused them to be actively disengaged as well. Been there?
So why do we keep doing it? Probably for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being our familiarity with those closest us. And because they are familiar to us, we fail or forget the importance and need to build rapport with them.
Leadership is influence, plain and simple. And you can’t influence someone effectively if you haven’t built rapport. Building rapport is a dynamic, ongoing process. The problem is that we treat it like it’s a “one and done” event. That leads us to assume we have rapport with others, especially wth those that matter most, when we don’t. That includes key members of the team(s) we lead.
So what’s the key to building rapport so you can lead from the heart and maximize your influence? It’s this: remember to ask more than tell.
And while asking is simple, it isn’t easy. Why? Because asking runs counter to our nature; we simply like to tell people what we know and what to do. If you doubt that, just hangout with a kindergartner for a about 5 minutes (either a chronological kindergartner or a functional one, makes no difference).
- What do you really want in this situation:
- for you?
- for our relationship?
- for our family, team or organization?
- What do you need in order to make it happen?
- What’s do you think the next best step is?
What makes asking vs telling so effective? Relationally, it let’s them know its more about them than it is about you. Practically, it allows the other person to:
- Discover, clarify and align with what he or she wants to achieve
- Gain self-awareness
- Elicit solutions and strategies they own
I think Blaise Pascal said it well: “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.” And building rapport through asking may be the best way to help start and guide them in the discovery process.
So how have you build rapport lately with those that matter most to you? With who do you want more? It may be that all you have to do is start asking.
How you build rapport with those that matter most? Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn.