This post is the first of 20 on relationship building – the final life and career success competency. Relationships are an important key to creating the life and career success you want and deserve. None of us can do it alone. We all need other people if we are going to succeed in our careers.
It’s difficult — if not impossible – to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life if you don’t display a genuine interest in others. Show others that you care about them as people. Do small things like remembering the name of their spouse and children, asking about their family, learning about their interests outside of work. You don’t have to become best friends with everybody at work, but it helps tremendously if you take the time to know them as whole people, not just work colleagues.
For years, I’ve made it a habit to remember other people’s birthdays and send them an ecard. It’s easy to do. There are any number of online sites that will allow you to store people’s birthdays. They will even send you a reminder a week before. It’s a small thing – and one which is hardly ever reciprocated – but people are always pleased when I remember their birthdays. Remembering people’s birthdays is just one small way that you can follow the career advice in Success Tweet 121 – get genuinely interested in others.
A couple of years ago, I hosted an Internet radio show on which I interviewed some very interesting people. Judith Glaser was one of them. Judith is an executive and organizational coach. She has worked with many fortune 500 companies… names you all know: Pfizer, JP Morgan Chase, Clairol, IBM, Citibank, Pepsico, Verizon, among others. Judith is the best-selling author of, Creating We, one of Fortune Magazine’s forty best business books in 2005.
She and I discussed Creating We and the thinking behind it in some detail. Here’s an excerpt from that conversation. I particularly liked what Judith had to say about our “vital instincts”. Judith says that we all have a vital instinct to bond with others. Demonstrating a genuine interest in others is a great way to begin the bonding process.
Judith: If you focus on the team level and the individual units aren’t learning how to bond, then we’ve missed what creates the ongoing energy and momentum from making something happen.
Bud: When you say individual units, you’re talking about the…
Bud: The people who make up an organization, whether it’s a 20-person organization, or a 20,000-person organization?
Bud: You talk about vital instincts in your book, and can you talk a little bit about that?
Judith: I had a most amazing “ah-ha” that came to me somewhere in the beginning or middle of the first year when I was trying to articulate what this was all about. The backdrop to this is that I wrote a business dictionary in 1986 so I had to come up with 3,500 new business terms that weren’t in the mainstream dictionary. That’s how I actually got my name Benchmark for Benchmark Communications.
In the process, words became a fascination for me, and I said, “what if there was no word yet that existed to explain what it was that was driving human beings to be together and to be successful together?” In that pursuit, I came up with the term “vital instincts.” I decided that human beings have vital instincts that are alive all the time when we feel trust and when we are in a good relationship with someone. When this trust is broken and we become a fearful and distrusting person, there is a loss, or the cutting of those vital instincts. This interruption of communication with someone is actually what causes people to fight and want to survive or focus only on their own self-interest.
Bud: So if I get this right, we all have a need to trust other people and have a bonding need, a need to be in relationships with people?
Bud: And when we struggle in relationships – whether it’s in our marriages, our friendships or at work, it usually means that someone severed that trust that was the glue in the bond, or at least created the impression that the trust was severed?
Judith: Exactly, when people feel that trust has been severed they will go to someone else to build a new bond or to secure the bond that they have for safety and being in a relationship and being in a healthy communication.
So let’s say you and I have a fight and all of a sudden our bond is broken. I then feel a need to re-secure that bond with someone else, so I turn to him or her and I say, “you know that Bud guy, can you believe what he just did to me?” And then all of a sudden I have a new friend who’s now helping me. If you watch animals, it’s licking wounds.
Bud: So vital instincts, at their core, really are a bond. We all seek to have relationships with other human beings. Sometimes we develop relationships that don’t work so well and can be harmful to an organization because the bonding results from you and your other person talking about how bad I am, to use your example.
Judith: Exactly. And that’s what we say when an organization is dysfunctional – that’s what we’re talking about. And by the way, vital instincts are so powerful and so important that if we don’t have them, if we take children and leave them in the forest for example, without human contact, they do not grow beyond, they’re called feral, they don’t grow beyond being animals.
And so this instinct for bonding is also what leads to the ability for human beings to grow and develop parts of their brain that enables them to socialize and enable them to innovate and enable them to contribute.
Bud: Let’s talk about conventional wisdom. Just how do we get along – what do we need to do to work well together and build strong relationships?
Judith: I’ve come to believe that creating “we” is not just getting along and working with each other. I really focus on getting down to the basics. If two human beings can sit down with each other, and they can talk about what a strong relationship would look like and then they can talk about what they need to give each other to create that; then they can talk about what they’re going to do if they fall out of it, so that they can continually get back into it. Then we have something that talks about how people can stay in that “we” and in that bonding relationship.
Bud: So relationship building – bonding if you will – is dealing with people in a straight-forward, open manner. I think that a lot of what you’re saying, and I think a lot of people who are listening to you are saying, “What she’s saying makes sense” and it really does.
Judith: Thank you.
Judith Glaser’s ideas about vital instincts are important for anyone who aspires to be an interpersonally competent person and a life and career success. Interpersonally competent people have the ability to build strong bonds with the people in their lives – and the ability to repair and strengthen those bonds when they are threatened. Pick up a copy of Creating We. I think you’ll find it to be interesting and stimulating reading.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. You can’t become a life and career success all on your own. You need to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with other people. Follow the career advice in Tweet 121 in Success Tweets. “Get genuinely interested in others. Help bring out the best in everyone you know. Others will gravitate to you.” It is easier to create strong relationships when you bond with others. Judith Glaser calls bonding a “vital instinct” of all human beings. And, as she astutely points out, bonding is based on trust. Build relationships by being a person worthy of others’ trust. Becoming genuinely interested in others is the first step in the trust building process and some great career advice.