I've been running workshops on soft skills and influencing principles for more than a decade and I have a confession to make. One of the things that really peeves me about certain parts of the professional and personal development industry is the sheer volume of articles or programs positioned around teaching someone the "tricks" to do "X" to another human being. The "X" in these instances could be influencing others, making people like you or getting people to do what you want, to name just a few examples of these types of headlines.

Now, I'm sure these articles and programs are very tempting to people who don't know any better, because frankly, who wouldn't want to know "the trick" or "the secret" to doing something? However, stop and think for a moment. In the contexts of your personal and professional relationships would you want someone "tricking" you into liking them? How would you feel if you knew someone was "tricking" you into doing something they wanted you to do or using "tricks" to influence you? If you thoroughly put yourself into the shoes of the other person, you probably wouldn't want someone thinking about tricking you let alone actively going out to trick you. So why would you want to do that to other people?

I'll be frank with you, if you are resorting to tricking people to do anything with or for you, then you need to seriously rethink your intentions towards those people and your applied strategies when it comes to human relationships.

Rather than looking for the "trick" or "secret" that will melt resistance to an idea or thaw a frosty relationship, here are some things to consider when relating to others and seeking to build rapport with them:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

This gem comes from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Rather than just trying to get your agenda met or your point heard, why not spend time learning about the other person's needs, wants and desires? The first step in relationship building should be learning about the other person, so that you learn how to add value to the relationship and work collaboratively towards win-win outcomes. Give it a test and make it your first outcome in any meeting you have from here on and watch what happens.

People won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Rather than trying to get your outcomes met at the expense of the other person, demonstrate a genuine interest in the outcomes and the problems of the other person. No technique or process, will ever overcome a demonstration of a lack of empathy and disinterest from your side of the interaction. You might be the smartest and most talented person in the room, but if the people you're relating to don't feel you care about what's important to them; then you won't get much of a chance to demonstrate your intelligence or showcase your capabilities.

Treat people with respect and use your manners.

It amazes me how many people need to be reminded of this simple point. Next time you go into a public place, watch the interactions. Watch as people order a coffee from a barista while continuing to talk on their phones, notice as they push in front of others as they walk out a door or forget to say please or thank you or excuse me. If there were any magic words in the english language that would assist people in liking you more, then in my opinion, please, thank you, excuse me and sorry would have to be on the list.

Recognise people's efforts not just their outputs.

Regardless of whether someone gives you exactly what you want, thank them for their effort or for thinking about you. Providing regular positive feedback on effort rather than just output is something that will continue to reinforce the behaviour. Someone is more likely to go above and beyond what is expected of them, if they know the person they are doing it for recognises their effort and intentions.

Give people the present of your presence.

Be present with people, put away your phone and electronic devices and devote your full attention to the person you're with. Attend to them and be attentive. I often teach people in my workshops to engage in three types of focus:

Eye focus - Keep your eyes on the person you're talking to. That doesn't mean stare at them either. It just means keep your eyes orientated towards them, particularly when they are speaking or demonstrating something.

Body focus - Orientate your body in such a way that you are facing towards them. I've seen way too many examples of people unconsciously orientating their bodies in a way that excluded people in social situations as well as sales situations. Create a sense of physical intimacy with the other person / people by positioning yourself in such away that you can line your midline up with a single person, or to create a space for others in the group to be included.

Mind focus - Be fully mindful of the person you're with. Turn your attention to them as if they were the only person or people in the world. Train your attention to stay with them rather than letting your attention wander.

In training programs I run, we play with doing each type of focus in isolation, doing them together and then breaking the focus. It is a great insight into how important these focuses are when it comes to enhancing your social intelligence.

So let's stop with the tricks. Let's start by being genuinely interested in the the interests and welfare of others, authentic in our behaviours and treat each other with respect. It's not so tricky and it's not much of a secret but it will help create magic in your relationships.

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