Grandma’s recipe for building relationships

My grandma was an underground communications guru. Not in a university or content company but privately and with great insight. She had a brilliant and simple recipe for building relationships that works whether you are trying to win a client, create content or just make new friends.

It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipe (there isn’t one for building relationships) but it contains two really important ingredients that make all the difference – emotional intelligence and open communication. Let’s call them the salt and pepper.

While salt seems to be in demand this year, pepper tends to be more of an after-thought.

First add your salt: in the words of my grandma dear, “you need to learn how to recognise, understand, control and use your emotions if you truly wish to have any lasting relationships”.

Although a little over-the-top (what’s with the ANY?) and for a familial environment, grandma was gorgeous and wise. The art of effectively dealing and communicating with emotions lies at the heart of all relationships – personal and professional. It allows you to demonstrate your ability to understand and connect with your audience.

You need to empathise with their stories, become a part of their narrative and ultimately develop a relationship with them built on real emotions and engaging conversations.

And now the pepper: this second ingredient my grandma shared with me sans context or request. Imagine hearing this coming out of the blue when serving your elder relative a bowl of porridge: “Just say things as they are, when they come into your head. Don’t turn old and grey without being honest and forthright”, she said.

I hope you can connect the dots faster than I did a decade ago when she was giving me her take on open communication.

Open communication needs to be one blanket rule in every interaction, for building any relationship. There are a thousand interpretations out there but I believe my grandma was close to the mark when she said it was about a free flow of conversation between people without fear or prejudice. “Do not be afraid of being vulnerable, owning up to mistakes and raising your concerns – sooner rather than later,” she said, “and have the courage to share your side of the story clearly and directly.”

You can do this without being unapologetic, insensitive, arrogant, rigid or rude (Hint: Use ingredient number one).

Open communication can be a great solution for building trust, transparency and confidence for engaging with your audience. Try it.

If you would like more recipes for your communications cookbook, shoot us an email and I’ll ask my grandma.

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