How to Build a Great Relationship in 15 Minutes a Day

Good relationships -- professional or personal -- take time. But you don't have to spend endless hours to have a positive impact on someone. Regular snippets of focused time add up.
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Good relationships -- professional or personal -- take time. But you don't have to spend endless hours to have a positive impact on someone. Regular snippets of focused time add up.

Here's how I set my daughter up for success in 15 minutes a day. The same principles can be used with a key employee or your spouse.

Five years ago, my oldest daughter entered high school, which meant she had to be at school by 7:10 every morning.

We live very close to the school, so she could easily walk. But as someone who's had to catch early flights and leave before dawn, I know it can be depressing. You think about the mountain of work ahead, and it's hard to summon up a "can do" attitude when it's cold and dark and you're alone.

I decided that I wanted my daughter to start her day in a positive way with someone who's interested in what she has going on. So every day I'd make her breakfast and talk to her while she packed her book bag.

To be clear, this wasn't pancakes and fresh squeezed juice and sitting down for 30 minutes. It was cheese toast on a paper towel placed on the end of the counter so she could grab it on our way out the door.

Most days we had no more than 15 minutes together from the time she came downstairs to when she got out of the car at school. But I was very intentional with the time.

I made a point to be very positive. I'd ask about what was happening that day. If she hadn't studied for a test, I didn't lecture -- after all, it was too late to change it. Instead I'd ask, "How can we make the most of the next 10 minutes to help you get ready?" It was always about teeing her up for success for that day. I wanted her to start her day knowing that someone was cheering her on.

It wasn't perfect. Some days she was cranky. Other times I was tired from a late-night trip and had to force myself out of bed. Sometimes I forgot my intention to be positive and found myself lecturing. Some days I was out of town.

But over the arc of four years, I estimate that we had, on average, about 15 positive experiences a month -- 15 minutes a day, 15 times a month, nine months a year for four years. That's 8,100 minutes -- 8,100 minutes of positive attention.

What would happen if you had 8,100 minutes of undivided time from a parent, boss or spouse asking you about your challenges and supporting you?

I never had that from a parent. But I did have it from a boss, who spent 45 minutes with me every Friday reviewing the upcoming week. It's probably not a coincidence that I was incredibly successful in that job and that 20 years later I still refer to him as the best boss I ever had.

Little snippets of time matter. Whether it's breakfast, dinner, your employees or your kids, when you schedule time for positive interaction, you get results.

My oldest daughter is in college now, and my second daughter is starting high school. I'm older, busier, and more tired. But I'm still going to wake up every day to make the cheese toast and ask about her day.

Fifteen minutes every day; it makes a difference.

(c) Lisa Earle McLeod

Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies like Apple, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces.

She is the author of The Triangle of Truth, which the Washington Post named as a "Top Five Book for Leaders."

She has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved.

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