When I was younger, people always described me as a social butterfly. I was that kid who frequently got in trouble for talking too much or distracting others in class. I didn’t do well academically, and needless to say, my GPA didn’t make the cut for The National Honor Society. 

Rather than spending my time reading textbooks, I socialized. What many didn’t realize, including myself, was that I was learning by being social.

Unfortunately, I mistakenly grew up thinking my disposition for social interactions was a negative trait, but little did I know I was cultivating one of my superpowers. 

Building and maintaining strong relationships comes naturally to me. It has helped me connect with people from all over the world, people who have opposing political views, and people with different backgrounds.

Even if this is not your natural disposition, I believe everyone can build rapport and develop lasting and fulfilling relationships with people of all walks of life.

Here are 7 simple ways to build strong relationships that will have an impact on your personal and professional life:

  1. Find common ground by listening: I’m a firm believer that you can find common ground with just about anyone. Listening intently to what the other person is saying is key. When you listen between the lines, you are more likely to find something in common, no matter how small. You never know; you might learn something, too. 
  2. Take an interest in others’ stories: I don’t know about you, but I love stories! One of the best ways to learn is from others’ experiences. Listen and ask questions. Get to know their motives, passions, challenges. After all, people are fascinating and love to talk about their experiences. 
  3. Be vulnerable and authentic: The magic happens when you let your guard down and you are truly yourself. Being vulnerable is hard, but remember, everyone is going through something behind the scenes. I have formed deep and impactful relationships with people when I remove the façade and show my true self.
  4. Value and embrace diverse perspectives: There’s a lot of talk about diversity right now, but is it being embraced? Recognizing someone’s differences and focusing on their strengths will help you understand their experiences and beliefs. Showing appreciation and understanding of their unique experiences will open new worlds for you.
  5. Be of service: Lending a helping hand to someone in need is a great way to build a connection. When you are of service, you show support and build trust—two strong pillars of relationship building. 
  6. Put yourself in others’ shoes: When you’re empathetic you are attuned to what people are going through, and this is an important skill in building strong connections. Empathizing with others can also help you become more self-aware, which is imperative in social interactions. 
  7. Show your appreciation: Think about the last time someone recognized or praised you for something. Do you remember how that made you feel? This is a simple gesture that will have a big impact on the receiver. Expressing gratitude will only strengthen and fortify your relationships.

How do you build strong relationships? What has helped you in building rapport and making lasting connections with others?