Building Strong Workplace Connections

Building Strong Workplace Connections

Payal Nanjiani 09/11/2019 2

At a conference I was speaking early this year in London, I got to meet with Amanda, the vice president of a Fortune 500 company. During our lunch conversation, I got to know that Amanda was a young vice president at thirty-two years of age.

She had begun her career at the age of twenty-four as an intern and quickly rose to prominence in her field. Almost everyone on that lunch table said a common phrase- '"You're so lucky, Amanda." Chances are you've been on the giving and the receiving end of this familiar phrase more than once. 'You're lucky to receive an opportunity- for a job, for the travel experience or for your relationship.' Why do we give luck all the credit? At least Amanda didn't. She made it very clear to us that the most significant reason behind her success is the connections and rapport she built with people at and outside of her workplace. Honestly, until the year of 2005, I too would often look at successful leaders and entrepreneurs and say, 'they're lucky to have made it to the top.' But no more. Everything for me changed in the year of 2005. I clearly remember the evening of December of 2005, when the CEO of this mid-size company that I was working for addressed the leadership team for 15 minutes during the companies' all hand leadership event.

Some of the best relationship advice I learned from his speech is, 'when you help others get what they want, they will help you get what you want.' I also learned that 'even a brief interaction can change the way people think.' It changed the entire game for me, and until today, these words of wisdom have proven to be my biggest lesson and a stepping stone in my work life. Isn't it true -'even a brief interaction can change the way people think.' Traveling around the world, coaching and speaking to thousands of leaders, teams and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, I came to understand that the #1 force in success is connections. Connections are a lifeline of success, and it does not happen by exchanging cards or joining networking groups or meeting over coffee. If you want to master workplace relationships, every interaction should be powerful enough to change the way people think.

For this, I built what I call the five power pillars of connection which have helped my clients to develop and grow their business, and to rise in their jobs successfully. Here is one such power pillar called the power of N.I.C.H.E. N.I.C.H.E. helps you to begin to understand what drives people's decisions and behaviors daily and develop stronger connections with them. N.I.C.H.E. stands for Need, Interest, Concern, Hope, and Expectation. It is built around a common human pattern- to move away from pain and gravitate towards happiness. All humans desire happiness.

Happiness meaning for every person is different. That's the N.I.C.H.E. anchor. Whether you are connecting with your boss, peers, team, clients, or vendors, N.I.C.H.E. is the foundation of all relationships at work. To begin with, start by simply following these initial five steps to apply N.I.C.H.E. in your everyday work life. Once you master these, the next steps get easier and you begin to build a lasting rapport quickly.

  1. Ask questions: First engage in conversation by asking questions. Questions are a tool we use to dig for something. Find something in common to converse further. Questions help you to get to know at least a few of the NICHE elements.
  2. Jumpstart the conversation: Once you have listened well, and got to know a common ground, frame your discussion around those elements. It is proven to jump-start the phenomenon of connection.
  3. Anchor: Once you have built on the conversation, ensure you anchor the person, and keep the person in high spirit by continuing your conversation around his/her NICHE. 
  4. Feedforward: Always end your conversation with a question that will enable them to reflect and connect with you later.  
  5. Stay connected: Every now and then send an article of interest to the person or simply enquire about what you learned about their N.I.C.H.E. At all times stay connected.

Most people try to build rapport by using words. They tell about themselves and their work rather than getting to know the other person thoroughly well. The way of making lasting connections at work is through people's heart and mind.

A version of this article first appeared on People Matters.

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  • Becky Pritchard

    I don't socialise with my colleagues. I am here to do my job. That's it.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    Thanks for the lessons

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Payal Nanjiani

Leadership Expert

Payal Nanjiani is one of the world’s few Indian-American globally acclaimed motivational leadership speaker, executive, and success coach, and author. She is the founder and CEO of Success Is Within Leadership, a coaching & training company. She is well-known for cutting through the complexity of leadership in today’s fast-changing environment to uncover the core problems and devise real-world solutions. She is also active in promoting women in leadership around the world.

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