When we think about “success,” we often think about rising to positions of responsibility, prominence, and financial reward. And we often attribute that kind of success to things like ambition, perseverance, and expertise.

But success is about a lot more than making the most of your intellect, talents, and creativity. It’s also about building strong, lasting relationships—personal and professional.

Relationships that yield a treasure trove of memories and experiences are rewarding in and of themselves. Learning how to build and foster lasting relationships will lead you toward your personal and professional bests. Whether you’re still working your way up the ladder or already sitting in the catbird seat, there are three (3) sure-fire ways to help build relationships at work and home.

First, listen. Yes, it’s a total cliché, but it’s true. Listen to your co-workers. Listen to those who report to you. Listen to your managers. Listen to your kids. Listen to your parents. Perhaps especially when—they disagree with you. No matter how old you are or how experienced you think you are. Why? Because you’re bound to learn something. After all, every person on earth has lived through a set of unique experiences you may never have. Even if you still disagree afterward, you’ll learn something about them, about you, about work relationships. In the end, you’ll earn (or retain) people’s respect—and their willingness to follow the direction the group decides to take.

Second, the crucial counterpart to listening is honesty. Everyone believes honesty is “the best policy,” but sometimes we throw that belief out the window when we think it will lead to hurt feelings or awkwardness. This inevitably ensures that problems repeat themselves. The trick is to learn how to be completely honest while being discreet and diplomatic. This requires real forethought about what you say.

Would you want someone to approach you about a problem? Find a personal hero in the art of sensitive, effective communication. When you get the words and delivery right, what could’ve been a headache turns into a profound learning experience that could change a co-worker’s life and career forever.

Third, none of this action will do any good if you don’t keep your word. When you say you’ve got some crucial part of the project covered, give it your all because you know the team is depending on you. When you promise to communicate the team’s concerns to management, be a dependable voice for those you represent instead of shrinking from a potentially daunting task. In good times and bad, keeping your word is an insurance policy.

Build a reputation for it and you’ll get your share of the reward and praise for successes, and people will give you the benefit of the doubt and go to bat for you when problems arise.

Besides increasing your ability to build trust and influence at work and at home, the biggest reason to make these three practices a habit is simply because they make life a lot easier—and more fulfilling.  Remember:

  • Listen
  • Be honest
  • Keep your word

Adapted from an article I read some few years back.

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