Personal PR: Relationship Science

It’s in the name – public relations specialists must be able to build relationships with the public.

As anyone old enough to read this has probably figured out, everyone is unique. Some people are are kinder than others, some are more cynical, some are more imaginative, the list goes on. But, as Psychology Today points out, there is a science behind building and keeping solid relationships. The basics sing a refrain attuned to that of PR experts. Building strong, lasting relationships require building trust, practicing patience, showing respect, and communication, communication, communication!

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Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is famous for translating this concept into a self-help handbook. It’a all about building leadership skills, persuasion, and, at it’s very core, building relationships. At the basis of all this is just being a likable person. Here’s how Carnegie’s “six tips for making people like you” can be applied in the age of open workspaces, digital friendships and e-blasts, 84 years later:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

two women holding phones

This means putting your phone away, making eye contact, and engaging without interrupting. We know this, but it’s worth repeating.  Keep your phone next to your plate table during a lunch meeting, refrain from texting under the conference table when someone is presenting, and stop scrolling through at your computer when your coworker is sharing an idea. All are small acts that make an enormous difference.

Digitally, your affirmative head nod to acknowledge someone’s ideas has become the “like” button on social media posts and the “sounds good, thanks” or “great, I’m on it” email response.

2. Smile.

smiling man and woman hand shaking inside room

In person, this is pretty self-explanatory, but just do it! Smile at the doorman, the woman presenting at the next meeting, your coworkers, your clients, and people on the street! You never know how that person may circle back in your life again and if you smile, maybe they will remember you as the person who brightened their day. And it’s free, so why not?

Digitally, smiling is done through the tone of your written words, through stepping away from the robotic overly-formal tones and injecting a little personality into your professionalism.

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

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This one is simple and I’ll let Mindy Kaling sum it up:

“I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are ‘bad with names.’ No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.'”

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

woman sitting on yellow armless chair near gray laptop computer

In person, this one ties really well with tip number one, being genuinely interested in what others have to say. Anyone is worth 15 minutes of your time. Let them talk. Get to know them. Listening is the gateway drug to building trusting, lasting, healthy relationships.

Digitally, stay up-to-date with the big milestones people are accomplishing, the stories they publish, the trips they go on. Or at least brush up on what they’ve been up to before a meeting or before sending a pitch. This “listening” shows people their voice is valuable and people are paying attention.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

two people drawing on whiteboard

Take note of what people are into. Make your meetings at restaurants that appeal to their diets, are reminiscent of a recent trip they went on, or makes a great version of their favorite food. In conversation, relate to their interests when explaining a new concept to them. This helps them understand more clearly and lets them know you’re genuinely listening and caring.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

two men having conversation while walking

In person and digitally, all of the above are components of making someone feel valued. But asking someone for their opinion or assistance, giving them the floor and respecting their voice, that makes someone feel important.

Do you use these tips on a regular basis? Try them and see if they make a difference in your life.

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