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How Most of Us Unintentionally Initially Sabotage Developing a Relationship

by | Apr 1, 2023

We all want to make a good, sorry, I meant a GREAT, first impression. We’re also all insecure to varying degrees.

So, most people try to impress at the outset. They talk too much. They exaggerate. Some even boast. What they uniformly fail to do is to LISTEN.

Initiating a relationship is about establishing trust and respect. If you’re “talking over someone”, what you’re implicitly stating is that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. You’re clearly the BIGGER FISH, in your own mind that is. LOL This is an implicit—and unintended—put down.

It accomplishes the exact opposite of establishing trust and respect. You’ve told the other person that they are “second fiddle” to you. Whoops.

People love to talk about themselves. So let them. They will tell you what’s important to them. Ask them about themselves with genuine curiosity. How are they? How has their week been? What was that fishing trip like in the photo on their desk?

Mirror what they are saying to demonstrate that you hear them and understand what they are feeling. From our friends at the BBC:

We already know mimicking body language, expression and gestures can help people forge relationships, but results from a new organisational-behaviour study indicate that imitating someone’s communication style can also make you more persuasive. The parroting technique is called ‘linguistic mirroring’, and data shows that implementing the strategy can boost the efficacy of your message.

For example, the next time you’re on that Zoom all-staff meeting, pay close attention to how each of your colleagues speak and present their thoughts. Some might only be concerned with fast data points and bottom lines, acting brusque and maybe even a bit standoffish. Others may be far less linear, and might launch into a rambling story. The research shows you should adjust your speech to mimic them – even if their communication style is miles from your own.

Developing this chameleon-like skill could prove to be a very useful addition to your toolbox for winning people over—and getting ahead.


Jeff Balash achieves results that change companies by applying his EQ and IQ. He gets to know people easily, appreciates their personal and their firm’s challenges, culture, and competitive environment to develop breakthrough solutions that can be understood and implemented.

Jeff has done business on six continents and has consistently been an innovator. He uses Design Thinking to develop creative and innovative solutions and strategies. McKinsey research: over a ten-year period, design-led companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 219 percent.