No one likes to be sold to. We dislike it when we step onto a car lot and the sales person immediately rushes us. We dislike it when our phone rings during dinner and the telemarketer starts with his sales pitch. We dislike it when the account executive promises us the latest software features, only to realize that we purchased vaporware. Our self-serving agenda drives our interactions with others to attain what we want first. Our self-serving attitude leads to little regard to earning the trust of others before seeking to earn their business – we fail to first establish a relationship before seeking business.
When I became President & CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Mountain View nearly six years ago, our Chamber was experiencing tough times. We were in the midst of the great recession of 2008. Membership was declining. Some programs and events were not profitable and were experiencing low attendance. Members were unhappy. Staff morale was low. We lacked focus, vision and relevancy. I realized that trust and confidence in our Chamber had taken a beating. In order to rebuild trust and regain confidence, I focused outwardly. I focused on understanding the needs of our members, staff and our community. I focused on helping others get what they wanted first.
I interact with thousands of people and these are traits that individuals with strong people skills possess.
Empathy - Zig Ziglar once said "People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Seek to sincerely understand the other person’s feelings and emotions. Ask questions about why they feel a certain way. Be in the moment when talking to others.
Approachable - Our body language communicates either positive or negative feelings. For example, a smile, arms to the side and eye contact radiate a feeling of warmth and openness.
Mood consistency - Are you happy one day? Sad another day? Upset another day? No one likes to be around someone who displays mood swings. Be predictable with your mood.
Respect everyone - Do you treat others differently because of their title or because you want something from them? I notice when I’m at a work event, once someone knows my title, they treat me differently. This is a huge turnoff for me. Respect is earned, not bestowed because of your title.
Servant attitude - I’m not referring to being a doormat. It’s about identifying and helping others with their needs. Focus on the needs of others.
Compliment - Find something positive about the other person and sincerely compliment them. People sometimes say ‘I don’t want to give you a big head’. Really? Treat a compliment as a gift to others.
Go the extra mile - It’s less traveled. Sure it’s easy to say you’ll help someone, but do you really put in the extra effort to do so?
Humor - Make people laugh. Life is stressful and chaotic. There is a lot of negative news. Break the monotony of life.
We all want to feel valued, heard and understood. The next time you interact with someone, ask yourself, “Does this person feel better or worse after interacting with me?” If the person feels better, chances are you’re on the path to earning their trust, connecting with their heart and establishing a long-term, mutually respectful relationship.