Expert Advice

How to Form Deeper Emotional Connections Professionally & Personally

Remember

As you grow, do not forget everyone who helped you get to where you are. Attend to these relationships, whether big or small, maintain and develop them, as you owe everyone in your life a debt of gratitude, even your opposition. 

Life strategies

We wake up; we go to work, we visit friends, we sit with family, we cook, we eat and drink, we read, we pay bills, we treat ourselves, we help out, we work out, we sleep, we learn, we grow. It’s hard to put an all-encompassing definition on your daily life – there are so many in-betweens, so many tasks, so many little smiles and enough frowns to balance things out.

So what are some life strategies that work to keep us grounded through our daily grind? What are some life strategies that will keep us from messing up, from going crazy, from throwing in the towel and just saying forget it? What are some life strategies that will lead to our growth and not our downfall, to our success both professionally and personally? What are some life strategies that will lead to emotional and spiritual success – the ones that will let us go to sleep at night and wake up inspired?

Relationship skills

Hone your relationships.

Hone your relationship skills.

Learn how to connect with people.

Learn how to form and nourish positive relationships with your coworkers, employees, customers, colleagues, friends, family, and even your pets.

It will leave you more fulfilled.

It will help you to grow.

The only way to learn how to connect with people is by interacting with them. You need continual in-the-field experience. And sometimes, you need a day of rest. Perhaps not a whole day, but some time to regroup – a hobby that centers you, a playlist that warms you, a movie that inspires you, a walk, a hike, a swim, a book – solace. Things to learn and insight to gain that you can eventually choose to share with others.

Relationship skills 101 – when interacting with people, sometimes you have to make the first move. It can feel forced, but it gets things flowing. People will revert to talking about the weather. It’s an easy one. It may also be a bit tiresome. But the connection begins. Who cares that the opening line has become a cliché? It started a smile; it opened a conversation, and the possibility for the conversation to take a more interesting turn. If you can think of something better in the moment, then, by all means, go for it – but just get the conversation started.

Learn the demographics of the people around you, yes this term applies more to a business’s customers, but you can use it everywhere. It’s figuring out someone’s stats. It usually relates to the study of people in a particular area or group to determine what kinds of good and services they might be interested in – and how to market them. But how is this any different from our personal relationships? We learn all sorts of things about a person and vice versa in an attempt to enrich our lives – how we can make them happy, how they can make us happy – quid pro quo.

We are selling ourselves constantly.

But the best exchanges happen organically. After the ball gets rolling something begins to flow, and this forward motion drives us toward unimaginable profits.

It is when we are confident in our worth that people realize what great things we have to offer. It is when we are confident in the value of other people that relationships develop.

These realizations help form stories that grow more substantially profound.

Call it character development.

But you have to work to maintain emotional connections – that’s what loyalty is, that’s what trust is –reciprocal efforts towards emotional growth.

Emotional connection

A positive relationship comes from an emotional connection.

And how do people form an emotional connection?

Through shared interests?

That’s a start.

Through common goals?

That always helps.

Through transparency – honesty?  

Absolutely.

But these are things that must be worked up to. Transparency requires finesse. New relationships may not be quite ready for total transparency. When we are honest about ourselves to other people that is when we are most vulnerable. When we are honest with other people about what we think of them, we need to be careful.

Should you then present your best side?

It helps to form business relationships, heck, it helps to form personal relationships, but as these relationships develop, honest glimpses of vulnerability are what make us relatable – and human.

Do people need to know our deepest darkest secrets?

Probably not.

Do they need to know the lowest points of our past?

Not usually.

To form a true emotional connection with someone it is best to show them how our current views will help to shape our future – and if you are truly trying to form an emotional connection, how those views will shape your future together, whatever type of relationship it is.

Grow in your ideas.

An emotional connection is sparked by an almost unexplainable electricity – the energy of another person melds with ours to improve our time on this planet, to make us feel more empowered, livelier, inspired – to make us more successful.

At its most basic, an emotional connection is what makes us feel human; it validates us, it ensures us that we are worthy of this bond. We have cultivated our first hello, or handshake, or name exchange, into something deeper.

But how do we do that?

And how do we keep it going?

Interpersonal relationships

An interpersonal relationship requires two or more people to connect in some way, and through well-developed interpersonal skills this relationship is maintained, cultivated, and even grown.

Interpersonal skills + emotional intelligence

When cultivating interpersonal relationships, it is important that you develop your interpersonal skills –this requires a certain level of emotional intelligence. When dealing with other people, either one-on-one or in a group, it is good to pay attention to body language and tone of voice. If someone is speaking timidly or quite fast, they may be nervous – try to make them more comfortable. If someone is leaning toward you when you are speaking, this likely shows that they are interested – if they are nodding their head in agreement, even better. If someone is slouching and looking around or at their watch, it likely shows they are disinterested. If someone is shying way from you while you speak, they may also be nervous. Try to use a steady pace and a soothing tone of voice when you speak – ask the other people in the group for their opinions. It’s good to get everyone involved and be receptive to their ideas – it shows good interpersonal skills.

Another part of developing your interpersonal skills is learning to speak confidently. If you are having a meeting with coworkers or employees or even out on a date, be well-versed in the topic you are discussing, don’t fake it, when you talk passionately and intelligently about something people can’t help but notice and gravitate toward you.

When maintaining interpersonal relationships, you need to ensure that you work well with others. Relationship management is dependent on your ability to collaborate in a positive manner. You must also bring something to the table, but realize that others have just as much to offer – putting ideas together to form new and better ones constitutes a profitable interpersonal relationship, and will help to form deeper emotional connections. You want these interpersonal relationships to grow and become more successful over time, whoever they may be with.

Relationship types

As mentioned quickly earlier on, there are many different types of relationships. There are:

  • Coworkers
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Colleagues
  • Business contacts
  • Communities
  • Social groups or clubs
  • Students
  • Friends
  • Family
  • And romantic relationships.

Coworkers

You can keep breaking these down into subcategories. Think of the many different types of work relationships you have with your coworkers, some you are close to, some you can’t stand, one you might even have a crush on, or have dated, or even married (though be mindful of appropriate office behavior). You will have a work relationship with single (as in one) people at the office and interpersonal relationships between groups of people. You have your lunch buddies, some coworkers can also be friends, some you may only see professionally while others you grab drinks with or take vacations with or celebrate holidays with.

Employees

With your employees, you must command a certain level of respect, but you don’t need to be a tyrant. And even employees can become your friends, while others you may only want to deal with on a strictly professional level. Become a leader that employees can look up to and respect, keep honing your interpersonal skills and developing your work relationships, learn from those around you, and always be open to change.

To ensure a highly productive team, you should host office outings and charitable activities that you and your employees can do together. This will help to improve your work relationships. A half a day of bowling or helping out with a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanities® will develop interpersonal skills between you and your employees. If these are tough to organize, host an office pizza party to get people interacting on a more personal level. Offer office perks, set achievable goals, and put rewards in place that your employees can work up to. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary –a plaque commemorating an employee of the month may be all it takes. If it’s possible, give your employees a bit more freedom; trust them to work from home one to two days a week. Improve morale by hosting fun days at the office, like casual dress Fridays or a summer party with frozen beverages; you can even do this during the wintertime to switch things up. Creating a highly productive team comes down to respect, respect for the integral part your employees play in your business’s success.

Customers

You will have different types of relationships with your customers too. Client relations can be very brief and fleeting while others you will maintain and grow throughout your career. You must strive to form some type of emotional connection, at varying levels, with all of your customers – through your face-to-face interactions, through your customer service, through your digital correspondences, and through your employees (they are a representation of the type of business you are running). You can also form positive emotional connections with your customers through quality marketing materials and first-class goods and services.

Excellent client relations come from a customer-focused business. No matter how big your business gets, remember that happy customers are at the core of your success. The top thing many people look for in a business is quality customer service. A happy customer means a loyal customer, and one that will likely continue to shop with you for years to come. So bottom line, maintain good client relations to help ensure career growth.

Though, watch out, customer relationships can also become problematic, counterproductive, and sometimes abusive – so you need to know when to cut your losses.

Colleagues

A work relationship will also involve your colleagues. Your colleagues are your professional equals, but you should treat everyone as your equal no matter their position, education, or social status. Learn from all the people in your life, form emotional connections with surfs and kings, become successful with the understanding that everyone is different and no one is necessarily better or worse. Where you lack, other people do not, and where they lack, you excel.

Business contacts

Cultivate business contacts; you never know when they will turn into a highly successful work relationship. Business contacts can be former coworkers, B2B relationships you and your company have formed with vendors, and those who can help one another achieve professional growth.

Communities

As we move on from business relationships, it’s time to discuss the relationships you have with people in your community.

Your neighbors, those who are part of your city or town, parents at PTA meetings, the people you run into every day, all are part of your community and warrant positive relationships.

At some point, you may need to form interpersonal relationships with the various members of the area you reside – keep this in mind and treat everyone with respect. The people that make your coffee in the morning, those that check you out at the grocery store, the rather unpleasant woman down the street – developing your interpersonal skills requires interacting with all of these people and attempting to maintain positive relationships.

Social groups or club members

You may join a spinning class or take a photography course – whatever your interests are you have to learn how to connect with people.

Social groups and clubs can make us more fulfilled; they can develop not only our interpersonal skills but build our intellectual, physical, and spiritual strength. Social groups and clubs are a way of finding common interests and joining people together to form deeper emotional connections.

Students

No matter how old you are, you may decide it’s time to further your education. Continuing education can help with career growth and personal development. In an educational setting, interpersonal relationships are certain and interpersonal skills are necessary. While this may make some people nervous, remember that everyone there shares common goals; to learn, find their talents, hone their skills, and succeed.

Learn to cooperate with others in these group settings. Practice active listening, and illustrate that you are fully engaged by asking questions or offering your unique insight on the topic after someone is done speaking. Don’t be a know-it-all, but remember that it’s okay to apply your expertise.

Positively interacting with your teachers is also important, keep an upbeat attitude, digest what they have to say, don’t interrupt, be helpful, and offer creative ways of thinking and problem-solving. Teachers can make great mentors and can become an essential part of your professional growth plan. Teachers are meant to challenge you and to get you to think outside the box. You should try to form appropriate and positive emotional connections with your teachers, as they may become a contributing factor to your lifelong success.

Friends

There are all different types of friendships; you have your best friends, your close friends, your acquaintances, friends you have known almost your whole life, and some relatively new friendships that continue to grow. While certain friends may live close by, others are far away. Some friends you may talk to every day and others you can go months without talking to without negatively affecting the relationship.

Friendships bring joy into our lives, and if they don’t anymore, it may be time to move on from that friendship. It’s true, you can outgrow a friendship, and some relationships can eventually turn negative, so keep a close eye on how your friendships are affecting you and adjust accordingly.

If you haven’t reached out to a friend in a while, it may be time to do so. Relationships require work, as does making new friends, but the effort you put into relationship management is usually worth what you get out of it, and if it isn’t, that’s when it’s time to cut your losses.

Family

This type of relationship management is important; maintaining positive relationships with your family can be very rewarding but also quite difficult at times. There are many parts of a family, starting with the nuclear family or household and branching its way out. The nuclear family is your immediate family that is made up of two parents and children. A household is different – this is who you share your living space with. In addition, people will or may have:

  • Husband or wife
  • Children (son or daughter)
  • Father and mother
  • Siblings (brothers or sisters)
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Uncles (your parents’ brothers)
  • Aunts (your parents’ sisters)
  • Cousins (children of your aunts and uncles)
  • Nephews (male children of your brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, or brothers-in-law)
  • Nieces (female children of your brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, or brothers-in-law)
  • Family-in-law (father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law)
  • Godparents (elected male and female to act as godfather and godmother at a child’s baptism, playing an active role in that child’s upbringing, and may be responsible for that child should anything happen to the parents)
  • Stepfamily (see below)

You may also have stepfamily, for example, stepbrothers or stepsisters that were born to one of your parents during a previous relationship, or you may be the stepchild, meaning that one of your parents is actually your stepmother or stepfather and not a parent by blood. Blood relatives don’t necessarily dictate the strongest relationships; oftentimes step relationships are just as solid, and in some cases more so.

All family relationships require work, but they are essential to our personal success, and in certain instances, our professional success as well. Do your best to keep family relationships cordial, loving, and mutually beneficial. Maintain family relationships by doing things together, listening to one another, growing together, and counting on one another.

Try not to hold grudges.

 Sometimes, professional growth can get in the way of the time we spend with family – do not let this happen – while career growth is important, we must all make an effort toward priority management and find a balance between work and home life.

Romantic

Romantic relationships are among the different types of relationships we share. A romantic relationship can also be very rewarding and lead to a budding family. Remain considerate and develop this type of relationship. Many romantic relationships stem from common interests or ideals, and some will even start out as friendships.

Ensure that you are in a healthy relationship – do they encourage you, do you have your own separate hobbies and activities, are they nurturing and sensitive to your opinions, as well as mentally and physically respectful?

An important part of a romantic relationship is forming a strong emotional connection. Practice deep and honest communication, but be careful how you say things, you don’t want to give away too much too early nor do you want to hurt your partner’s feelings. Always think before you speak and utilize your emotional intelligence by being receptive to your partner’s body language and tone of voice. Sometimes they will infer things without actually stating them, try to be aware of this.

Good interpersonal skills are just as important in a romantic relationship as they are anywhere else – continue to work and cultivate them with your partner.

Relationship management

Managing all the relationships in your life can be tough and sometimes very tiring, but remember that developing your relationship management skills is rewarding. Relationship management is vital to our professional and personal success and will ultimately ensure our happiness.

If not handled carefully, our lack of relationship management skills can be detrimental, costing us our careers, our friends, and our family. Devote the proper amount of time to everyone that makes your life special – preserve and build these relationships.

Professional growth

One of the keys to a successful professional growth plan is relationship management. Your career growth depends on your ability to communicate with others. Make friends, share ideas, and ensure business growth by utilizing your ability to woo customers, employees, and coworkers. As long as you are an honest individual, willing to learn, improve your skills, and work with others toward a collective success, professional growth is likely in your cards.

Create a growth strategy that involves a personal philosophy and distinct set of principles that others can relate to. Meld who you are with who you want to be, and ensure that your interests and ideas are reflected in your business plan. Make others believe in what you have to offer and prioritize your goals.

What is the most important step in prioritizing goals?

Strategizing.

Each component of a set of goals must be completed in stages; they will not happen all at once, if you try to rush things you are only setting yourself up for failure.

Personal growth

Develop a personal philosophy to live your life by, and know that personal growth comes from the relationships you form and how you conduct yourself in these relationships. Personal growth comes from life experience, and yes, your professional growth plays a part in this. All the emotional connections you build with others, your family, your colleagues, your friends, your customers, will lead to personal growth.

You are learning every day.

Priority management

Priority management is an important aspect of professional growth and personal growth. Your tasks at the office must be managed rationally, putting the most important ones first and working your way down.

Time management is also necessary. Don’t dedicate too much time to just one thing. Even though certain tasks will require more time than others, you must learn to distribute your efforts properly.

Priority management is also about ensuring a work-life balance. Dedicate an appropriate amount of time to work and your professional relationships, but make sure you spend enough time developing your personal relationships. While work is important, your family also needs you present. You deserve downtime with friends too. If you are in a job that devalues a work-life balance and does not allow for priority management in all aspects of life, then it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

Self-reflection

Throughout your life, and even from week to week, you need some time for yourself.

Self-reflection is very important.

For some, self-reflection happens while taking a walk. Others use prayer to reflect inwardly or practice self-reflection during meditation or yoga. Many people also keep a journal; the most successful people keep both a professional journal and a personal journal to practice self-reflection.

You need to take time to look at your life and examine what is making you happy and what is not – what is working for you – how your relationships are doing – how you are managing your priorities and how you are working toward your goals.

Self-reflection is an essential part of your professional growth and personal growth. Sometimes all you need is a moment to gather your thoughts and come to a healthy realization about an aspect of your life. Remember, self-reflection happens differently for everyone, but it’s necessary to our success.

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