What’s the Greatest Relationship Building Tool?
I recently purchased a new car. It was time to trade in one of my older vehicles that was loaded with miles and became more than it was worth in maintenance costs. I haven’t purchased a car in over a decade so I was a little out of my comfort zone.
My wife, Alia, test drove a vehicle that she really liked and was eager to close on the deal and take the vehicle home with us. My kids liked it and as I drove it over the weekend, I became fond of it as well.
I braced myself for the negotiation with the salesman at the car dealer. He was a nice guy, just a few years removed from high school. He was polite and respectful as we discussed the price.
I could feel the tension in my body as he rejected my offer and then he rejected my counter offer. We were at an impasse. The salesman, shuffled back and forth to his manager’s office on several occasions as we discussed the price of the vehicle. I knew I would eventually need to finalize the deal with his manager, so I continued to negotiate until the manager finally appeared to discuss the details of the offer.
I was ready to dig my heels in and demand a lower price, but the manager wasn’t interested in talking about the vehicle, he was interested in talking about me. He smiled and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Andy.” He presented me his hand.
I grasped his hand and shook it. “I’m Erick, this is my wife, Alia.” I gestured to Alia resting in a chair a few feet behind me.
“Tell me about yourself, Erick.” Andy smiled.
We conversed for a long time about running, college, kids, and our careers. Andy seemed genuinely curious about my life. We soon discovered that we both ran Varsity Track and Field in college. We chatted about running and competing. I forgot why I was there for a moment until Andy finally stated, “Erick, I’ve enjoyed our chat and hope we can continue it again soon. In the meantime, we want to do whatever we can to make you our customer.”
Soon we agreed on a price and I walked out with a new van and a new friend. Andy made the process easy because he was curious about me and allowed me to share my life experiences with him. A week later we shared breakfast together. Andy was the same at breakfast, peppering me with great questions and absorbing my answers with keen interest.
Andy won me over and ultimately closed the sale with me because he applied the #1 rule in relationship building, curiosity. Curious people have lots of friends and strong networks that are boundless, because they developed strong relationships around their genuine curiosity for others.
If you want to win with people, then shift the focus off yourself and learn to ask great questions. When in doubt, just do what Andy did with me and simply say, “Tell me about yourself!” and a new friendship will instantly form. Pick someone you know today, invite them to lunch and learn as much about them as possible and continue to do that with all your relationships and you will always have a friend nearby.