10 ways to build better work relationships

Jeff Haden
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Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in.

We can’t always define it, but some people have “it” — they’re naturally charismatic.

Unfortunately natural charisma quickly loses its impact. Familiarity breeds, well, familiarity.

But some people are incredibly charismatic: they build and maintain great relationships, positively influence the people around them, consistently make people feel better about themselves — they’re the kind of people everyone wants to be around… and wants to be.

Fortunately we can all be more charismatic, because charisma isn’t about our level of success, or our presentation skills, or how we dress or the image we project — charisma is about what we do.

Here are ways you can be more charismatic:

1. Listen way more than you talk.

Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond — not so much verbally, but non-verbally.

That’s all it takes to show the other person they’re important.

Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them.

Don’t believe me? Who is, “Here’s what I would do…” about: you, or the other person?

Only speak when you have something important to say — and always defineimportant as what matters to the other person, not to you.

2. Don’t practice selective hearing.

Some people — I guarantee you know a few like this — are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.

Sure, you speak to them, but that particular falling tree doesn’t make a sound in the forest, because there’s no one actually listening.

Incredibly charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level,” feel like we have something in common with them.

Because we do.

3. Always put your stuff away.

Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor. Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.

You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff, too.

Give the gift of full attention. That’s a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.

4. Always give before you receive — knowing you may never receive.

Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.

Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person, and you show that the only person who really matters is you.

Just give. Be remarkably giving. Don’t worry about whether you will someday receive.

5. Don’t act self-important…

The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people.

The rest of us aren’t impressed. We’re irritated, put off, and uncomfortable.

And we aren’t too thrilled when you walk in the room.

6. …Since you know other people are more important.

You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspective and point of view.

That stuff isn’t important, because it’s already yours. You can’t learn anything from yourself.

But you don’t know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who they are, knows things you don’t know.

That automatically makes them a lot more important than us because they’re people we can learn from.

7. Shine the spotlight on others.

No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well.

Wait, you say you don’t know what they did well?

Shame on you — it’s your job to know. It’s your job to find out ahead of time.

Not only will people appreciate your praise, they’ll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they do.

And they will feel a little more accomplished — and a lot more important.

8. Choose your attitude — and your words.

The words you use affects the attitude of others — and it affects you.

For example, you don’t have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don’t have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don’t have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness.

You don’t have to interview job candidates; you get to select a great person to join your team.

We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The approach you take and the words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves — and make you feel better about yourself, too.

9. Don’t discuss the failings of others…

Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt.

The problem is, we don’t necessarily like — and we definitely don’t respect — the people who dish that dirt.

Don’t laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them.

10. …But readily admit your own failings.

Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they are successful — their success can seem to create a halo effect, almost like a glow.

The key word is “seem.”

You don’t have to be incredibly successful to be extremely charismatic. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have the charisma of a rock.

But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be extremely charismatic.

Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes and be the lesson learned.

And definitely laugh at yourself. When you do, other people won’t laugh at you. They’ll laugh with you.

And they’ll like you better for it… and want to be around you a lot more.

This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum. 

To keep up with Forum:Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Jeff Haden is a Ghostwriter, Speaker and Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor

Image: Workers from the financial sector walk on a tram track. REUTERS/Bobby 

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