Lessons on Building Relationships
I am grateful for the unexpected privilege I had today to meet Wendy. Very impressively, Wendy gave me answers to a question I was playing with in the back of my mind throughout my day, she also reminded me of a few important life lessons and the many things I have to be grateful for… all in the short span of only a few minutes.
One of my ex-colleagues had started a new job at the beginning of this year and I was enquiring from a mutual friend this morning whether he has heard anything from her and how she is doing at the new job. As with any change in life that comes with big uncertainties, I knew that she was very nervous about this new job. Although he had not heard of her yet, he said that he was confident that she would be fine, because she was such a nice person, to which I responded that the only challenge I foresee for her is the fact that she was a bit of an introvert, which could cause people to take longer to find out how nice a person she indeed was. Since real life situations are almost always the inspiration for the articles I write, I spent the rest of my day playing with what advice I could offer regarding the seamless integration of a new team member. And then I met Wendy…
I was just going to quickly pop into the shop to get a few things for dinner. As I drove into the parking lot, a beautiful Yorkie hanging out a vehicle window caught my attention, so I steered my car over there and pulled into the empty parking bay right next to it. As I switched off my car, I was smiling at the cute little dog who didn’t even bark in my direction and that was when I heard Wendy’s friendly voice saying, “Come meet my dog.” Still sitting in my car, I greeted her dog and told her that I thought she had a beautiful companion. “Thank you” she responded, “my mother bought her for me for my birthday. She takes care of me and I take care of her.” Wendy proceeded to tell me that her father had recently passed away from cancer and that she still missed him very much. When I told her that I was indeed very sorry to hear that, she asked if I would pray for her and once I said that I would, she asked me whether I would pray for her right now and she held out her hand for me to take in prayer. Our interaction continued for a while and I in fact learned a great deal about Wendy in that short span of time – she shared some of her fears, challenges, values, excitement and dreams with me. And whether she intended to or not, she made a positive impact on me and my day.
We are all faced by changes in work and in life. Sometimes these changes come unexpectedly, sometimes they are undesired, but whatever changes you are facing this year, hopefully these lessons I extracted from my interaction with Wendy, will help you to make new friends and great teams along the way:
LESSON NUMBER 1: Give people a chance. Too often we judge and discard people too quickly – clinging to our first impressions or our own perceptions. Even if you do not think that you need a new friend, give people a chance as they may be in dire need of a friend like you.
LESSON NUMBER 2: Making new friends and building relationships is not about your interests, but about that of the other party. Wendy spotted my interest in her dog (she paid attention) and acted fast to utilize the opportunity. Being interested is a great start to making friends and building relationships.
LESSON NUMBER 3: There really is no time like the present. Do not postpone – take action now or you may miss out on an opportunity forever.
LESSON NUMBER 4: Making friends and building relationships requires give and take. As much as Wendy was sharing information with me, she was also asking me questions and listening to what I was sharing with her.
LESSON NUMBER 5: Everybody has a “behind the scenes” story. Do you know your co-workers story? Have you ever taken the time to get to know their story? Do they know yours?
LESSON NUMBER 6: Making friends and building relationships require action. Friendships and relationships are often forged when doing things together. Identify common interests and establish common ground.
LESSON NUMBER 7: Making friends and building relationships may take you a bit outside of your comfort zone. As long as it does not breach your values, change may involve doing something you have never done before. Give saying “yes” a chance – you just may enjoy it.
LESSON NUMBER 8: Making friends and building relationships require time. Be wary of always being too busy. A few minutes spent well can really change someone’s entire day. In just a few minutes, you can really uplift another. Make sure that you take a few minutes to listen, ask questions and connect with someone today and every day.
If you find yourself starting in a new job this year, I hope that you will have a Wendy or two that will make you feel very welcome, very fast. Or if you find yourself in a position where you have a new colleague coming on board, I hope that you will be their Wendy and make them feel very welcome, very fast. Oh and if you ever have a chance encounter with Wendy, please go meet her dog and tell them both I said “Hi”.