My Guide to Building and Managing Relationships
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” said well-known motivational speaker Jim Rohn. If that is so, then what kind of person are you?
Who are you spending time with?
Do you feel that the people you’re with always suck the energy out of you?
Are you tired of always putting up a front when you’re with them?
Then it’s time to revamp your relationships!
We always tend to underestimate the impact that our family and friends have on us. The thing is the quality of our relationships can make or break our overall health, and happiness.
The people you spend time with can either help you fulfil your dreams — or crush them!
So you must choose well.
Being around better people makes you better, and being around negative people drowns you from taking any intellectual or creative risks — they limit you, drag you down, and tell you that you are not enough. So surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, who will comfort, encourage, and support you.
If you can not be your authentic self with the people you hang out with, then what’s the good in those relationships? You can either keep pretending to be someone who isn’t you, to try to fit in with the shitty people who keep telling you that you are not enough — or you can keep your distance and be around people who appreciates you for who you truly are.
Success breeds success. It’s contagious. If you’re around successful people, chances are, you are successful in your own way too.
My philosophy when it comes to managing your life is to design it carefully and execute meticulously. So design your relationships as you would design your life, and meticulously execute as planned.
The two key factors in designing meaningful relationships are: first, How one builds new relationships; and second: How one manages existing ones.
So how do you design the process of building new relationships?
I do it in two steps!
Create a list of people that you want to meet.
Building a solid network is a numbers game and you have to work on your numbers! Which is not hard to do really because the world is full of geniuses, experts, mentors, professors, philosophers, and all types of achievers who have invested enormous energy and time discovering the world, perfecting their craft, unfolding the true meaning of life. Name them, and then contact them through email, social media, and even through their agents. It’s foolish not to invest time to pursue these relationships, and flat out stupid to think that you are smarter than them, and to believe that you can’t learn much from them.
There are just so many gifted people out there with strengths you may have long been wanting to emulate. Social media has made the world very small such that everyone is accessible. There is always a way to reach out to somebody no matter how high and mighty they seem to be. You just have to try! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil!
However, connecting with them online is not enough. Follow up with an actual voice call or a personal meeting with your mentor. Be creative in finding ways to get in their schedule. Invite them for coffee or a meal. This way, you are optimizing your breaktime — by hitting two birds with one stone so to speak.
You should not expect to have deep relationships if you just stay online. Solidify your relationships by taking them offline. After all, old school is still the best school.
Attend networking events.
And I’m not just talking about business events like a conference or a seminar where you can meet a lot of great connections for your business. I’m also talking about events which will allow you to work on your interests.
For example: a basketball meet up, comedy meet up, cooking or language class, concert, historical site visits, hobby clubs, intellectual debates, open mic nights, school reunions, spiritual gathering, other sports events. Or some cause-oriented activity or charity event where you can volunteer and fulfill your desire to give back to the community. With this you cover values, a meaningful common ground, and a significant step in strengthening the bond. Going to these events boost your happiness and self-esteem, and more importantly, it allows you to meet amazing people, who are actively living their life to the fullest and have similar interests and passions.
The list of events you can attend is endless! Go out of your way to meet new people and be open to experience new things. After all, the world is your playground!
And while you’re at these events, make your presence felt. A tip here: Never discriminate. Never judge. Accept the fact that we all have differences.
Another tip is: Don’t fake interest. Be truly interested in the other person and what they have to say.
“If you want others to like you, if you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, keep this principle in mind: Become genuinely interested in other people.” — Dale Carnegie
With shared interests, a good first step in building relationships is already covered because you don’t have to go through that awkward phase of making small talk and trying to find common ground. It’s just so easy to build from there. (Personally, I dislike making small talks.)
I see so many friendships linger based on sheer convenience and I have seen so many romantic relationships stay put based on pure sexual frustrations. Stop settling for shitty friends, and shitty partners, go out and meet more fucking people! You’re bound to uncover a treasure (or treasures!) if you’ll just keep on digging and never let up. This is especially useful if you are into selling which, if you really think about it, all of us are into. (Either we sell actual products or our services.)
Now, how to manage existing relationships?
At this point, you have exponentially expanded your network and it’s time to make that selection. Just because you have made all these acquaintances doesn’t mean you must keep them all as friends. Keep those who inspire you and who influence you positively. And weed out those who don’t. Just as a prudent sower does.
As for me, I categorize people in my network based on distance and closeness (e.g. meeting frequency). For example:
Tier A — Once a week or more
Tier B — Once every two weeks
Tier C — Once a month
Tier D — Once every three months
I personally set this into my contact management system, which automatically reminds me to reach out to the person if I have not talked to them in the frequency that I’ve designed.
I do this because for me, relationship-building is a game of distance management. And by distance, I don’t mean just geography.
As you decide to keep certain relationships, the next thing that you should do is to nurture them. This step is crucial in safeguarding the quality of your relationships so that they will not lose their meaning and significance in your life.
Do you know why some relationships lack fulfillment? Communications coach Eduard Ezeanu explains it succinctly: “They are unfulfilling because they lack real strength; and they lack real strength because they lack real depth.”
And deepening of relationships requires commitment. We really have to invest time and effort in our relationships for them to grow. This is why my contact management system is very important to me. Blocking appointments in my calendar means I will always have time for my network and I’m never too busy to meet with them. And you just have to honor those time blocks. In my family, we have a weekly schedule to have lunch with our parents on Sundays and we honor them by honoring that commitment.
I cannot overemphasize the need to be purposeful about relationship building. Don’t leave anything to chance. Great relationships are not built that way.
“Nothing great happens by accident. It’s always intentional. Always.” — Chris Ducker
And so the cycle goes. When you realize that there are 7.2 billion people in the world, you don’t just settle for the ones that you have right now. You don’t succumb to an unhealthy partnership as if it’s your last trip. You are not pressured into marriage. Because you know that there are so many more people to meet. When you grow your inner circle, you grow as a person too. So keep on growing!