“Successful people have the ability to develop relationships that last.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov, inventor, author, architect
Breakfast has been called the most important meal of the day.
The other day, the breakfast urge prompted me to stop by a local restaurant — one of those places that offer breakfast 24 hours a day. As I was there alone, I was seated at one of the small booths for two and informed that my server, Charity, would be with me shortly. I browsed through the menu and considered ordering one of the “big breakfast” specials.
“How are you today?” The voice seemed especially chipper. I looked up to see an attractive young woman with a smile on her face.
“I’m good,” I replied, expecting the usual server chit-chat. “How are you?”
“I’m great!” she announced. “Is this your first time here?”
“Yes,” I responded, a little taken aback. “I’m new to the city.”
“I think you’ll like it,” she said. “The city, that is. I’ve only been here a year myself.”
I had to admit, I wasn’t accustomed to this level of interaction. She took my order and told me she would be right back with coffee. I watched as Charity delivered the same level of service to all of her tables. She would flit here and there, always with a smile and cheery “How are you today?” Sometimes she’d make a funny comment or laugh.
Surely, this wasn’t a ploy to get a bigger tip. Charity seemed to genuinely enjoy being of service to people. When I finished my coffee, she told me it was on her today — a kind of welcome to the city.
When I returned to the coffee shop a couple weeks later, I asked to be seated in Charity’s section. I was told there would be a 10-minute wait. Other sections had tables available, but many of the regulars preferred to sit in Charity’s section. I was beginning to understand why.
Whether by conscious intent or fortuity, Charity had mastered the art of building rapport. A workshop facilitator on customer service once told me great people and businesses understand the importance of creating human connections.
“It’s all about building relationships,” he had said. “Rapport-building.”
When I thought about it, I realized that everything we do in life hinges on our ability to build strong connections with other human beings; the more adept we become at building these connections, the greater level of success and happiness we tend to enjoy.
People who are good at building relationships have an advantage in the world.
Sure, there are those who have a self-seeking agenda in mind when approaching a relationship, but I think they’re soon found out. Even if your “agenda” is building your business, approaching someone with a genuine desire to help them, with a mutually beneficial goal in mind, will generally lead to success.
We are attracted to people like Charity because they make us feel good. We like to be treated with kindness and made to feel appreciated.
People like Charity make building relationships look easy, but anyone can improve their capability to make connections by following a few simple rules: trust yourself, be willing to be open and honest, be a good listener, take genuine interest in what other people have to say, and always look for common ground – a great spot to build a foundation.
And of course, bring awareness to the relationship that you are building with yourself. Are you a loving and supportive friend? Are you a cruel and judgmental critic? Maybe you’re a fair-weather friend: there when all things are going well, but gone when the tide turns.
It seems to me that the better our level of self-esteem, the more willing we are to build healthy relationships with others. As a rule, people who feel poorly about themselves have difficultly initiating, building and sustaining healthy relationships.
Gandhi had it right when he said, “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.”
It’s interesting to note, one definition of charity is “a kindly and lenient attitude toward people.” Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for breakfast.
Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.