how to relate to others

Don’t you wish that every interaction you had with other people had a great outcome or went smoothly? Me too.

Truth is, we all “blow it” sometimes. Even those with great people skills can have trouble interacting with others at times. It’s painful to go through misunderstandings, hurt feelings, lost opportunities and unmet expectations.

That is why we wrote this short article that offers a simple 4-step strategy to better connect with others in minutes. You can read this entire article in 5 minutes and have the benefits of this information start paying big dividends immediately!

STEP #1: Decide to pay attention to the other person.

This may sound so basic, but the other steps to follow will not apply if you don’t truly pay attention to the other person. Most interaction is a bit random. We just “wing it” by relating in a way that feels good to us. We talk about ourselves. We interrupt. We think about what we want – about what we are going to say next and so on.

The first step to start of any interaction is to DECIDE to pay attention to the other person in the form of listening and observing. Let people finish what they are saying to you without cutting them off.

STEP #2: Adjust your PACE.

This step is usually very easy, because you simply adapt to the speed and energy level of the other person in the situation. Observe if the person is more fast-paced or slower-paced. The pace of a person is usually very visible. Does this person appear to be in a hurry? If so, then he or she probably wants you to pick up the pace and be very responsive. Is the other person relaxed and casual? If so, then they probably want you to simply be relaxed and casual.

STEP #3: Adjust your PRIORITY.  

This step can be more subtle, but it is very important. Ask yourself if this person’s PRIORITY and FOCUS in the situation appears to be a TASK or if this person’s PRIORITY AND FOCUS seems to be more about PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS. If the person is more focused on a TASK, then he or she may want you to DO SOMETHING such as take action or answer a question. His or her objective at that moment is about getting a TASK accomplished. If the person’s focus is more about PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS then he or she may just want you to BE PERSONABLE by listening and showing sincere interest. His or her objective at that moment is more about socializing in that case. Just show you have a great heart and care about other people!

STEP #4: Help the other person get what he or she wants

This step is really about actively responding in a way that places value on the other person’s interests. Adjusting to the person’s PACE and PRIORITY will help you engage more smoothly with the other person, but there is another level of attention required to experience a great interaction with another person.

You want the other person to feel good about his or her exchange with you. Ask yourself, “what does this person want?” He or she may ask you for something outright that is just a quick task on your part. On the other hand, the other person may want a friendly smile and someone to share a story with.

Interacting with others takes time, care and attention. You may need to get out of your comfort zone for a while, but that part of the cost of putting someone else’s interests ahead of your own.

A word of caution

The main way you can run into trouble when interacting with someone is to misread that person’s PRIORITY – especially when the issue is mainly about PEOPLE instead of a TASK. Therefore, always approach others in a personable way (with the default priority as PEOPLE). If the other person is primarily interested in a TASK, you can always figure that out soon enough and that will not introduce a problem. On the other hand, if you approach others with a TASK as the main priority, then you run the risk of alienating others, since no one wants to be treated as a TASK or as a check on a check-list. You don’t want to have the attitude, “today I spent time with you so I can check that off my list! Ugh!”

Simply stated, always put people first and treat them with respect, even when working on tasks. Your motto in life might be – “Show people you care about them while you are getting things done!”

Did you know that these skills are all part of practicing The DISC Model of Human Behavior?

The steps outlined in this article are all about learning how to best respond to different personality styles.

You can use this quick cheat-sheet for responding to others if you are already familiar with DISC:

D – Dominant style personalities generally want you to DO something NOW to get RESULTS. They want you to be direct and to-the-point.

I – Inspiring style personalities generally want you to listen to them, be excited and have FUN. They want you to be upbeat and energetic.

S – Supportive style personalities generally want you to be warm and friendly in an environment of PEACE and HARMONY. They want you to be kind and sincere.

C- Cautious style personalities generally want you to be factual and credible to get VALUE and QUALITY ANSWERS. They want you to be correct and logical.

Tools to Learn How to Relate to Others

Free Course on Better Relationships

InterACTION Guide for Two People

Get Your own DISC Personality Profile

Get DISC Certified

What is DISC?