Building Relationships and Influencing Others (BRIO) is a big advantage at work irrespective of what function one’s role is related to. However, in Human Resources, it becomes extremely crucial to have this strength. If one is working for the people in the organization, one does require deep relationships to be able to not just understand what the people require but also drive within them what the organization requires.
When thinking about capacity building however, one might be driven to wonder whether BRIO is in fact something that someone is naturally good at or whether it can be built. Not going back to the nature-nurture debate, this question comes from the point of view of understanding how much one can invest in building this skill versus the basic level of building this skill that we can be satisfied with.
Various schools of psychology have different viewpoints on how one can effectively build relationships in adulthood. Beginning with the relationship that one has with one’s primary caregiver during childhood, to one’s maturity or the way they have adapted to real life in adolescence, many factors have been said to influence how one builds and maintains relationships at work.
For some of us who work in fields that require deep relationships, it is imperative for us to think of ways to achieve them. Deep relationships and the capacity that they have to allow you to create miracles in your work is widely acknowledged. At the cost of sounding clichéd, there’s only that much we can do alone!
If you’re building on your own or on your team’s relationship building skills, here are a few baby steps that can take you a long way:
- Make it a point to know every single person’s name. I once had a manager who gave me a few weeks to learn names by reading name-tags. At the end of those few weeks, she gave me no choice but to be quizzed on names when we were far away from the person approaching us. Taking it up as a challenge (and a good game), I quickly learned the names of all the hundreds of people we worked with. What I didn’t realize this was doing for me was building a habit of subconsciously learning names for faces at work, and needing to know their names when communicating with them. Like with many good habits we learn, I did not realize the value of it then, but today when I look at how much it helps me build those personal relationships, I realize it has become a part of me!
- Ask people questions. To tell their story, or understand what they need from you as a team that cares for its people, ask the questions that will get you there. There is a long way this can take you in terms of your work, but the amount that can make people realize that you care about them is immense.
The value that you build for your organization among its people increases significantly. However, do let them know why it is important for you to know, and assess that your questions don’t go over a particular line with those who you are in the process of building relationships with. We wouldn’t want to push people away by looking like we are just being nosy. Let them know that you value this relationship and it is important to you, not just for your work but also for their welfare. A lot of the times, I feel the latter is what might get missed out.
- Listen. While everybody tells us this in every possible respect, this aspect can never be over-emphasized and under-utilized. Just listening to the person you’re building relationships with can lead to answers that your question did not even ask.
- Make sure you speak to everyone – even the tougher ones. What might be a natural tendency is to build stronger relationships with people that you get along with better. Friendships develop and you tend to overlook the fact that there were many others who you set out to befriend. Some might be more difficult to break the barrier with, but we are social beings and we are bound to let our walls down at some time. Approach the tougher ones with a targeted approach – what do they need from this relationship and what can they give. Begin by doing just that. Once you’ve crossed over, take it to the next level. However, always know when to back off.
To me, the conclusion lies in a very simple yet thought-provoking quote by one of my favourite actors. ‘“Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor,” says Tom Hanks.