In life we have different levels of relationships. There are spouses, family members, and best friends, good friends, and work friends. Then there are the people you don’t like, but have to deal civilly with including sometimes family, neighbors (I’m thinking of a disastrous HOA meeting), and often work colleagues and bosses. It is important to recognize that we don’t deal with all of these groups in the same way.
Last week we talked about building your cheer squad with positive people. This group is who you celebrate your wins with and share your dreams.
A, B, C or D?
In Hollywood terms, let’s call them your A list. Then there are good friends, who you like, but are not quite as close too – the B list. The C list is other folks you like, but don’t see often and work friends. And finally there’s the D list, those people that you don’t like, but have to deal with. Always smile and be cordial, but never, ever tell the D list your good news or anything personal. They do not wish you well.
This discussion is not meant to be a downer or make you paranoid. Instead, I want to encourage you to not only build your core group of support, but to understand that there is power in recognizing where people fit into your list. And that it is smart not to share everything with everybody. People can always surprise you in both good and bad ways. This way I hope you can be more prepared.
Cheerleader or Debbie Downer?
Notice how people react not just to your good news, but to others’ good news. This is a huge clue to their character. Years ago I had a colleague whose wife got her dream job. I was more excited about it than he was. All he said was “Yeah, now we’re going to have to figure out child care.” Yikes! Psychologists have long known that it not just the good news, but how others react when we share it, that makes us feel excited and energized. Unfortunately, lots of people react negatively or make it about them or do both. If someone does something like this to you, don’t give them the opportunity to do it again.
T.D. Jakes’ Three Kinds of Friends
Pastor T.D. Jakes famously said there are three kinds of friends: confidantes, constituents, & comrades. He talks about knowing who you are dealing with and who to share your good news with. You can watch the inspiring video here. It’s one of my favorites.
1. Confidantes are for you. If you’re up, they’re up. If you’re down, they’re down. This is your cheer squad.
2. Constituents are not for you. They are for what you are for. These are people that can seem supportive, but never think that they on your A List. If they meet someone who can further their agenda, they will align with them to get what they want. It is easy to mistake a constituent for a confidante.
3. Comrades not for you, and they not for what you are for. They are for what you are against. As soon as you are no longer fighting a common enemy, they disappear. I’ve noticed a lot of work friends, if you have a bad boss, can fall into this category.
I hope you found this discussion helpful. Take a look at the people you surround yourself with. Where do they fit in? Are the confidantes, constituents, or comrades? Who is your cheer squad?
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Last week I wrote about the power of following up and lots of you responded. It was wonderful to reconnect with so many of you! After I hit send, I had a few more thoughts.
If it has been a while since you spoke or you met at a networking event, remind who you are reaching out to when and where you met.
Avoid apologizing for the gap in your communication. Everyone is busy. I promise that no one is thinking about how long it’s been since they’ve heard from you. Instead, try something like, “Can you believe it’s been three years since we met at that business conference.” Or the generic “It’s been too long” is always a good opener.
To remind myself when I where I met people, I always write that info in the notes section of my contacts. I also include anything else we talked about like the names of their children or their favorite project. These notes are immensely helpful when I am following up. I don’t rely on my memory. I write everything down.
Almost everybody is bad at following up, myself included. These days there are too many emails, social media messages, texts, and phone calls to respond to. Even worse, most big companies have eliminated executive assistants so people’s precious spare work time is filled with scheduling meetings and filling out expense reports. People running small companies and solopreneurs are on their own too. This message overload is why when you do follow up, it is almost always appreciated and answered with a positive response. Following up is wonderful because it helps whomever you are reaching out to with a gentle reminder. Whether you are trying to set a lunch, say nice to meet you, or get a project approved, you are immediately top of mind and busy people are grateful for the help.
Thank you notes and updates are the two most powerful follow ups. Thank you notes are impactful because, sadly most people don’t write them. A simple thank you note, either emailed or handwritten, will make you stand out from the crowd. You can combine a thank you note with an update, if someone helped you or offered advice. A quick note about how you implemented a suggestion or even how a project is going can make someone’s day. I can’t tell you how many people I have asked to keep in touch with me and haven’t. I would be thrilled to hear from any of them.
Keith Ferrazzi in Never Eat Lunch Alone says that a 24 hour follow up after meeting someone new is optimal. He may right, but that is not always possible, especially if you are at a conference meeting hundreds of people. Keith’s rule actually made me stop following up for a while, because I often didn’t do it within 24 hours. And then I realized that it is never too late. Even if it is months or sometimes years since you promised you would follow up, people will be glad to hear from you. You know why? Because they haven’t followed up with you either! They’re not going to be upset that you haven’t reached out because they haven’t reached out. Instead, they will be glad to hear from you. So when in doubt follow up!
My challenge to you today is to follow up with somebody that you’ve been wanting to reach out to, but feel uncomfortable because the amount of time that has passed. Just do it! What is the worst that can happen? I always ask myself this when I’m feeling some resistance to doing something. The worst thing that can happen is you get no answer and so you are the same place you were before you reached out. But most likely you will reconnect and reinvigorate either a work or personal relationship, and who knows what happens from there!
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Hi I’m Lindsey!
I love helping people discover their superpower, create compelling content, and feel excited about pitching and networking.