Instead, let me offer you six ways to gain the relationship edge in business and life that don't require you to be a poser.
Let's start with Tip #1, the most important one of all.
1. Be real, be transparent, be authentic, and be yourself.
I mean your REAL self. Too often people spend incredible amounts of energy trying to project themselves as something they're not. Most of their conversation is spent trying to impress; they think they have everyone snookered.
Here is the reality: no one is fooled. People are always transparent... even when they think they aren't. I'm sure you meet people all the time who say all the right things and look the part, but you just know, in your gut, even if you can't put your intellectual finger on it, that they are full of hooey.
We are all intuitive and sensitive beings. We can feel the truth. We can sense authenticity and we can sense when it isn't present. Projecting pretense only pushes people away from you -- quickly and regularly. Your real self -- the one who isn't king of the hill and has fears, is concerned about family, and has a genuine passion for a product, service, or helping other people succeed -- is far more attractive to people than anything else.
I think the era of "fake it till you make it" of the '80s and '90s has passed. People are smarter today. More than ever, they are looking for authenticity. Now let me be clear: No matter where you are in your business, in your financial success, or in life, I DO want you to start dressing the part and walking the walk. I want you to start representing your elevated self. I want those things to be demonstrations of your new commitment to be better, show up better, and live better. I'm talking about not fibbing on the truth.
2. Treat people like people.
When I was in real estate, I had a mentor who helped me change my emotional approach to every conversation and human interaction.
I was having a discussion with him and pulled out my "Hit List" of target prospects. He looked at me incredulously and said, "Hit list? Who wants to be your next HIT?! These are real people, real families, who will be going through one of the most emotional transactions of their life, involving the most valuable asset they own--their home. Until this list becomes the list of those families whom you will help, protect, and fight for next, will they will not be interested in what you have to say."
That was great advice. It is not just semantics; it is an entirely different philosophy and mindset.
Don't treat people like targets, capital, pawns, or even prospects or just customers. Treat people like people... people with real desires, fears, hopes, wishes, worries, dreams, and ambitions... just like you.
3. Take a sincere interest in other people.
The best way to do this is to talk less and listen more. Make fewer statements and ask more questions.
Everyone wants to work on his or her script: What do I say? Instead, it's better to work on your questions. What questions will draw people out so they talk about their real values, interests, hopes, and desires? Once others express what they really want, it's much easier to match your potential solution to their real and personally expressed needs.
4. Always be positive.
Be the one who brightens a room and every conversation you enter. It is easy to pile on to a complaint fest or add to the rousing gossip, but you will actually be perceived better by others if you don't join in that talk.
I am always supremely impressed when I witness someone turn down the opportunity to talk negatively about someone else, even if it would have been only to agree with the one speaking or join the company of misery talk.
Let your reputation and brand become those of positivity, grace, and class. These rare qualities are what people look for in others. Be the standout.
5. Recognize others.
Give people honest and sincere appreciation. Heed the wisdom of Catherine the Great: "Praise loudly, blame softly." Catch people doing things right and acknowledge them. Congratulate others on their accomplishments; celebrate their victories. Find at least a dozen ways to compliment, congratulate, or appreciate someone else's work, contribution, or successes every day.
Be so busy giving other people recognition that you don't need any yourself. Do that and people will swarm to you like bees to honey.
Most people are only focused on getting... and they wonder why they don't. Look for ways to contribute, provide, help, offer, and assist. This goes back to the golden rule of relationships that Zig Ziglar taught us: "You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Give first, give often, and give last. Give, give, and give.
I see my relationships as bank accounts (psychologically, not emotionally); the more I deposit the more valuable I am to that person and the more I have on account with them. There might come a time when I need to make a small withdrawal, but I always want to be on the positive side of the ledger. My objective is to create a great surplus of wealth in as many accounts (or people) as possible by depositing as much as I can as often as I can.
This is how I use social media and my blog. All I want to do is give value, distribute value, and contribute value--not to sell, promote, or "get." I use those platforms to help, serve, give, and contribute. Each tweet, each posting on Facebook, each article on this blog, is completely focused on providing ideas, insights, and resources to help people become more successful. If the amount and sincerity of the comments you leave me don't lie, I am perceived to be a very valuable relationship for tens of thousands of people. Very rarely do I recommend something I own or benefit from; if I do it's because I know it will serve the subject we are discussing and the other person's goals or objectives.
That is what I recommend you do -- seek to help, give, assist, empower, and support. Build a reputation as one who wants to give and help others... and as Zig promises, in return you will GET everything you want in life.