How to connect with others this holiday – your 6 simple steps

gosababa.comIt’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again – the holidays have officially started.  With all the magic and wonder that comes with the holidays, so can stress and anxiety: family time, holiday parties, and reconnecting with old friends.   Wanting to help you navigate through the next few weeks with as much ease and magical wonder as possible, we are here to share with you some easy steps to really enjoy the festive season and all it holds for you.

How often have you heard others say (or been the person to say) something to the effect “I have to go to a party at my aunt’s, my supervisor’s, my neighbor’s etc and I really don’t want to go.  However, I have to go”?  We would hate to be the host of that party!  So how come we continue to go to these events when we have decided ahead of time that we will not have fun?  We are ‘dreading it’!  On other occasions, we look forward to an event and then don’t have the fun we think we will have for a myriad of reasons.  This year we invite you to have a different perspective on the festive season.  Before each event, we invite you to think about the reasons you are going to the event, how you want to show up at the event and what will make it successful for you –otherwise why go?

Perhaps you want to connect with a friend or relative whom you only see during the holidays?  Maybe you want to catch up on the gossip from your old neighborhood?  Perhaps it is to promote your new venture, make new friends or….?  Whatever the reason maybe, how can you ensure you get what you want from each social outing?

Whether you are in a social situation with your colleagues, your friends, or your family, these 6 simple steps will help you build relationships and make meaningful connections.

1.FOCUS – Know what you want:  Arriving at the event with a clear focus on what you want to get out of it will help you stay focused on achieving this outcome.    Typically, people find it is easier to know what they don’t want – have a boring time, sit alone with no one to talk to, not drink too much etc.  However, if we can’t focus or get clarity around what we do want, how are we going to achieve it and truly enjoy the event?  A goal could be meeting 2 new people, having one really interesting conversation, learning something new about a person or catching up on gossip with 2 old friends.

2.LISTEN: I know, I know, we talk about it all the time, and there is a reason!  It’s really THAT important when communicating and forming relationships.  We have learned that people really struggle with listening well.  Giving the speaker your full attention messages respect for that person.  Relationships are built on respect.  Body language is a huge part of listening. What is your body language saying?   Are you making eye contact or looking over their shoulder wondering who the next person is that will walk into the room?   What’s your face doing?  Is it relaxed or tense?  Notice the same cues in the speaker.  This is part of listening.   People love to be heard, and people love people who take the time to listen to them!  It is hard to ask questions when you aren’t listening to the speaker.  Notice how much you can learn from a person in a short time just by listening, and how that affects your relationships.

3. BE CURIOUS:  People love to tell their stories. Being curious through open questions is a perfect way to find out what someone’s story is.  Being curious about someone and learning about them builds a connection.  Curiosity not only helps create and build a relationship, it can strengthen a relationship as well.  It allows you to understand a person’s perspective, which leads to them feeling seen, heard, and understood (ultimately what we all want in the end!).

The easiest way to start a conversation is by asking open questions which typically begin with how, what, where, why or why. “How do you know (____)?”  “What do you do at  (_____)?”  “What do you think of  (______)?”  “Tell me more about (______)”.  The quickest way to engage someone is to ask an open question.  It is also the easiest way to learn something about a person. Get stuck and can’t think of a questions or what to be curious about – “tell me more” is a great way to learn more and keep the dialogue going.

When we are not curious, quite often we are judging our self or others.  Typically this is the basis of gossip, something in which we all enjoy partaking……and have you noticed how sometimes after a juicy gossip session you feel yucky?  If your goal for an event is to catch up on gossip, how can you do so in a way that makes you feel ok after?  How can you be curious, perhaps entertain different perspectives so that you can catch up without feeling miserable afterward?

4.DIM YOUR HEAD CHATTER: So often we find ourselves listening to our own head chatter more than we are listening to the person who is speaking to us.  We have found when we leave our head chatter at the door, we are able to focus on conversations and  be fully present and engaged in the conversation.  This helps us to be open, curious and not judge self or others.

When we don`t do this, we find the chatter in our heads sometimes takes over, limiting our focus on what the speaker is saying to us.  We find ourselves thinking about the next food we want to eat or drink we want to have, who has just walked in the door or criticizing self or others, all the while NOT listening to the person who is speaking to us.  And it is noticeable!  What can you do to park your head chatter at the door and give yourself permission to enjoy each and every moment while you are in it?

5. WATCH YOUR INTERRUPTIONS:  The most disrespectful thing we can do is to interrupt someone.  It messages that what we have to say is more important than what they have to say (ie they have lesser value).  Not the best way to start or build upon a relationship.  Think for a minute what it’s like for you when someone interrupts you?  How does it feel? Many have said that they interrupt because they are worried they will forget what they are going to say, or a point they need to make.  What would it be like to enter a conversation where there isn’t a wrong or right? A conversation and discussion that can be open to all perspectives respectfully.

6. BE IN THE MOMENT:  Once we have a focus for the event it is easier to be in the moment while there.  We invite you to be open, in the moment and focused on what you want from the event.  We can all be aware of how we listen, how curious we are and how often we interrupt others.  We have found when we  focus on the person who is speaking and let it be about them, often they in turn want to give us the space to talk and share our perspectives.  When we are open to others, most often, they become open towards us.

So much of our pre-party anxiety can come with the thought of it being about us.  What am I going to say?   What if I am not funny?  What if I don’t come across as smart?  We invite you to focus on what you want your experience to be and to see, hear and seek to understand others. We have seen how this can lead to a truly enjoyable party experience.

We want to hear your successful party conversation strategies, what works and what doesn’t?  How are you making the most of this holiday season?

Love what you see and want to share it with others, no problem!  Here is what we ask you to please include:

Property of coaching culutre®, founded by Katherine Taberner and Kirsten Siggins.

Building Trust In Relationships – How it’s more valuable now than ever.

How many of you have felt the loss or crack in a relationship due to a breach in trust?   We aren’t perfect.  As learning humans, we can’t be expected to be.  However, in trusting relationships – ones where we seek to see, hear, and understand others and feel seen, heard and understood – there is the ‘safe space’ to make mistakes and learn to build stronger relationships.  When that foundation is lacking, relationships fall as quickly as they form.

In our hyper connected and hyper transparent world, how we build relationships is now more important than it has ever been.  Due to advances in technology, our world is getting smaller, our expectations larger and trust in ourselves, and others, is now more valuable than ever before.

According to Dove Seidman, founder and CEO of LRN (an organization that has helped some of the world’s most respected companies build “do it right”), we live in a time when trust is the currency of the age.  “Trust is more valuable than ever before, so you should produce a lot of it.  Those who can engender and wield more trust will win”. (HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything, 2007. p170).  It makes sense.  Trust is the foundation of building a relationship.  Cultures thrive when trust is valued.  Organizations that trust their employees in turn receive trust from employees, clients and customers – encouraging courage to take risks and build collaboration which lead to enhanced productivity and innovation.  When an employee feels trusted, they are prepared to take those risks without fear of being judged for being wrong.  This leads to innovation.  Families that trust their members are closer, happier, and healthier.  Communities that trust one another thrive in ways never thought possible. Without the possibility of trust, how can you build a healthy relationship?

With our general focus pulled away from WHAT organizations and people do, to HOW they are doing it, the value of trust is more important now than it’s ever been before.   If organizations don’t operate with trust, they become less desirable to invest in.   The same is true for people.  Individuals who don’t operate congruently or with trust, in our connected/ transparent world, suffer large consequences: loss of relationships, allies, clients, jobs, community, friends, family and reputation.  So, if it’s that important, how do we build and sustain it?

Based on our experience, we have learned that trust is built by engaging others so they feel seen, heard and understood and vise versa.  When we are able to be open and curious to hear what one has to say and understand their perspective, without judgment or criticism, and honor that person for their perspective, we see them for who they are and begin to build trust.

What happens then when we don’t take the time to hear others and understand their perspective?  With less face time in conversations and more screen time with emails, text, and social media, it’s easy to make assumptions and take things out of context.   When people start to feel a lack of trust in others they tend to retreat away and work in isolation, not a great way to build healthy relationships.

Today, I read an interesting article “Let’s Be Honest, We’re All Liars” by Paul Spector, M.D. presented by a TED and Huffington Post collaboration.  In the article he delves into how our perception of the truth may not be as accurate as what we think, how our brain works and the lenses we use to represent our “truth” are not as simple as we may believe.  With trust and building relationships on the mind I was intrigued.   At the end of his article Spector concludes with:

“In closing I want to highlight something that may seem so basic it could get lost in this discussion. Most experts agree on the motives for lying: avoid punishment, win admiration, avoid embarrassment, exert power. Perhaps an exploration of how our institutions unwittingly foster a culture that promotes these motives would be a good place to start in an attempt to reduce dishonesty.”

Clearly trust and honesty go hand in hand and we now live in a world that has been proven by many that trust is the greatest currency in the land.  Yet we are still seeing in many organizations, communities and families this is not the case.  When we take the time to see, hear and understand others, truly listen to their perspective and not focus on “right/ wrong” judgments, the motives for lying extinguish and the building of trust begins.

How are you building your currency?  How “rich” are you in trust?


How to put the US in TRUST:

  1. LISTEN: We know, it’s always the first step we suggest, and for good reason!  We have learned it is a skill most of us take for granted and struggle to do successfully.  Listening to others without judgment and criticism, just simply listening to learn, will build trust in a relationship.  What are you curious to learn about this person or situation?
  2. BE OPEN TO NEW PERSPECTIVES: You don’t have to agree with everything everyone says; however, being open to hearing others’ perspectives is a huge opportunity to learn more about a person, situation or solution.   Asking open questions allows the opportunity to learn more about others perspectives.  Not totally getting where the person is coming from – “tell me more” is a great way to hear more and gain clarity.
  3. TEST ASSUMPTIONS:  From our experience, when an assumption is made, it is typically NOT what we assumed it to be.  Take the time to gain clarity and test your assumptions.  It’s amazing what you will learn and how this can lead to much stronger relationships.
  4. BE  CONGRUENT:  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Our world is changing and is now more transparent than ever.  Those who are not congruent in their messaging find it difficult to cultivate trust with those around them.  People see right through them!  Organizations are now realizing the importance of transparency and being congruent in today’s marketplace to build trust with its clients, investors, and customers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
  5. ACCOUNTABILITY: Be accountable for your actions.  When things don’t go as planned, take the opportunity to reframe the situation and look at it differently.  Ask questions and be open and curious to learn from it.  People and organizations, able to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes build trust with others and cultivate stronger relationships.  Their new learning often leads to collaboration and innovation never before considered.  In our new hyper connect/ transparent world with social media, those who don’t hold themselves accountable get left behind with an untrustworthy reputation permanently written in the ether that will follow them forever.

Trust is the currency of the age.  We are curious to know how you are building yours?


We invite you to reflect on how you are building your relationships? 

 What values are most important to you?