After knowing about the book for 30 years, I finally read How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The entire book is dedicated to developing relationships and was written over half a century ago. Even though it was written almost seven decades ago, it's totally appropriate to the world today. Carnegie is known as one of the great relationship masters and the book has a very simple, yet often overlooked, message; make everyone around you feel great no matter what the situation. If you help others get what they want and treat them well, you'll get what you want. The topic that most people would like to discuss is themselves, so why not focus on letting them do that?
The best way to get to know someone and let them talk about themselves is to ask questions. So, if we want to build better relationships we need to become better at asking questions, really good questions. In addition, it would be very helpful to actually be interested in what others have to say then being focused on what we have to say or how we are going to respond to what they're saying. Why don't we teach people how to ask better questions? Wouldn't it make sense to have classes on asking questions in school? Shouldn't every salesperson be recorded to show them how much time they speak vs listening? The 70/30 rule is pretty accurate; when in an interaction with a client or prospect they should talk at least 70 percent of the time. When you do that the other person tends to really enjoy the conversation so much more.
I was talking with someone recently who said they were really shy and didn't like talking to people. I told them that if they want to develop great relationships they don't need to talk much at all, they just need to ask really good questions and sit back and let others talk. So, I went looking for a list of questions to begin conversations and found an amazing list of icebreakers that is worth checking out. In addition to asking the questions we also need to become better listeners, because asking the question won't improve a relationship if you don't actually listen to the answers.
Building relationships is a lost art and the skills necessary to improve our relationship building activities are pretty simple; learn to ask better questions and then be interested in the answer. We are all salespeople whether we like it or not. With that in mind, we need to develop the skills that will produce the results that we want, which is deeper relationships. If that is the goal, learn to ask better questions. Here's to building better relationship, one dot at a time!