How did you meet your best friend? No matter if you’ve been together since childhood or only met in college, it took time for you to develop your relationship, right? Sure, you may have felt things “click” on first meeting, but you didn’t rely on that first impression to get to know them. On some level, you had to be intentional and keep spending time with them.
Last week, David and Latesha made a few new friends when they visited one of our newest clients. Each person they encountered had a different way of relating, but with a little intentionality, they built trusting relationships in a short amount of time.
Creating Common Ground
David and Latesha encountered completely opposite personalities in the two people they worked with most closely. The first employee was warm, open, and excited to meet them, which instantly drew them all into a comfortable space to get to know each other.
However, the other had different expectations. When they first met, he sat across the desk and thumbed through his checklist. It was the only conversation he offered, and when they were finished, David and Latesha were dismissed to the conference room upstairs.
During the audit, which lasted four days, Latesha made it her goal to find common ground with this decision-maker. She found small topics to bring up around him, seeking that special tone of voice that only enters a person’s voice when they’re speaking about their passion.
Slowly, as they talked about fitness trackers, pets, the city, and even his obscure Southern vocabulary, Latesha and David began to see the person beneath the title.
Both our auditors and their staff began to feel more comfortable asking questions, sharing the organization’s story, victories, and failures, and even dressing a little more casually as they got to know each other on common ground. At the end of the week, they were sad to see our auditors leave, and gave each of them hugs as they said goodbye.
No matter how wide or narrow the space seems, paying close attention to others’ values, hobbies, and language helps us connect with everyone around us, whether all at once or incrementally.