Whether you are a coach, parent, or any leader of people, it’s important to develop the interpersonal skills needed to form strong, meaningful relationships. Sometimes relationships are strengthened by what we say, but in many other instances bonds are truly crystallized by how well we listen, and the care we display to others. While we might think that our knowledge and intelligence is enough to establish credibility in the eyes of the people around us, relationships truly blossom through care, understanding, and empathy toward others.
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”
The quote above is one of the best I have come across as it pertains to leadership, team building, and developing strong interpersonal relationships. In fact, it’s such a powerful quote that I encourage you to read and re-read it several times over, and then think about how this approach might work in your life. For coaches, one of the biggest complaints from athletes stems from a feeling that the coach doesn’t take the time to truly know his or her players beyond the role of “athlete.” Similarly, many would-be successful work teams fail to produce optimal results, not because the talent wasn’t there, but instead because important relationships were never truly established. And finally, at home your kids are far less impressed by your college degree and current career than they are seeing you make regular attempts to simply care about them, who they are as people, and the goals they have set for their futures.
Show you care
There are a number of ways we can show those in our lives that we care beyond mere words, including the following ideas:
- Actively listen. During a routine conversation we often spend as much (or more) time thinking about what we want to say compared to efforts made to actively listen to others. Empower those you care about by remaining silent, listening to their words, and clarifying, paraphrasing, and summarizing what you hear to let the speaker know you are truly tuning in to their thoughts and feelings.
- Offer positive reinforcement. Rather than always looking for ways to coach people up, take time to regularly acknowledge all the good things that people do — including the little things that often go unnoticed. Be sincere and genuine, and pay close attention to effort, even if the results aren’t always there.
- Offer emotional support. If you notice that someone close to you is “off” somehow, check in and see if they are OK by inquiring with genuine concern. Provide comfort by validating their challenges, and let them know how much you value their well-being.
- Display empathy. Offering sympathy means you feel sorry for someone, but empathy is a deeper human experience that includes understanding and sharing the feelings of what someone is struggling to overcome.
Ordering directions, developing game-plans, and executing plays are just small pieces to success when it comes to gaining the support of those around you. Strong relationships are not established through trophies, college degrees, or money, but instead by investing in those around you through love, empathy, and support. Emotionally invest in those you care about through your actions, not words, and strengthen the relations important in your life.