Be a Better Friend, Romantic Partner and Co-Worker

blog post by Stev Stegner

Typically, I focus on business related topics to help business owners grow their business, create world class cultures and prepare their businesses for a future sale. My goal is to help businesses thrive in this post COVID environment. Unless you are the low-cost provider, businesses depend on working relationships, trust and cooperation to become successful. I have listed below, my favorite ways to ingratiate yourself to others which require no talent, money or time. 

1. Being on Time!  This has been a habit of mine for decades, I purposefully make sure I am on-time for every interaction I have with friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances. I like to arrive at least 10 minutes early to meetings where I may squeeze in a couple minutes of texting or prepare before the meeting starts.  This way, I can walk into my meeting stress free and focus the person(s) in front of me. With family I make sure I am always early and when attending get-togethers with friends, it is common for me to park a block away and wait until the allotted time. It is far better to be early and have a clear head than to fight traffic, call your friend, date or client and tell them you are running late. Being on time is such a lost art, people will notice you. Create this habit and you will be in a class of your own. As a bonus work strategy, I always schedule an additional half hour after every meeting to follow up on any and all items that were discussed.   You will be amazed at the freedmyou feel when you are not running from meeting to meeting, only to have one of them go long and set your entire day behind. 
2. Work Ethic.  Enough said, right? Having a great work ethic is not about being the fastest, best or brightest, rather it is about reliability / dependability, dedication and cooperation with your co-workers. It is about adding to a positive, world class culture with your integrity, sense of responsibility, emphasis on quality, discipline, teamwork, professionalism, respectfulness, determination. Working on work at work should be the standard for every employee. There is nothing you can say to convince me that it is OK to shop online, look at FB or send out resumes on company time. I am sure I sound like a business owner who just is out of touch with reality, perhaps I just have high expectations. Having a good work ethic will make you instantly likeable and strengthen your personal relationships.

3. Effort.  I have a great relationship with my spouse, it is based on many things, perhaps one of the most recognizable areas is effort. It might sound ridiculous that in this day and age, effort is more important than results, but it is. I open every door and every car door for my bride, help her on with her coat every time and make her coffee in bed every morning, even when we are traveling. I have been doing this for nearly 20 years. I know she appreciates it, she reciprocates with her ‘efforts’ as well. When you keep trying to do nice things for one another, your relationship cannot help but to be a good one. Effort at work is even more noticeable. It is working until the job is complete, either physically or mentally working on the project. Of course, some efforts will span multiple days or weeks.  The goal here is that if the task can be done with an extra few minutes now verses going on break and coming back to finish a sliver of the project, just get it done before you go in break.

4. Body Language.  Win friends and influence people with positive body language! This should not be something that is top of mind in every interaction. Simply be interested in what the other person has to say and your body language will follow suit. It takes no talent to be interested in what the other person is talking about.  If you need to, simply add to the conversation to bring it into a different direction. Body language is just as important in professional relationships as it is in personal relationships. Try it: lean into the conversation, sit forward in your chair and show them you care about what they are talking about.

5. Energy!  Bring energy to everything you do. Most of my friends believe I am an extravert. In business and my personal relationships, I bring on the energy and enthusiasm. This can be done in a plethora of ways, one way I do this is at parties, I try to talk to everyone in the room, learn their names and something about them. If there is less than 25 people in the room, this is relatively easy. What benefit is it to me to meet so many people? We live in an information age and the more people you know the more opportunities you will have. As a slightly personal story, I have a wide group of friends and I have been asked many times by single women if I have any friends who are interested in dating. I suspect this is the case because I bring my “A” game every time, all the time. Perhaps they think birds of a feather flock together and maybe I would know some interesting men that have great energy, have a positive attitude, a passion for life and are single.

6. Positive Attitude.  In business or at home a positive attitude makes you look taller, feel better and look smarter. Avoid negative thoughts since they manifest in negative ideas, words and deeds. It is not rocket science, be grateful for what you have and enjoy the people you are with. Be the light people are attracted to.  Having a positive attitude takes no talent. Find ways to bring positivity into your life. Maybe it is through inspirational quotes, writing in a journal of the things you are grateful for or perhaps it is simply cutting out the television news every night. With a positive attitude you will sleep better and you will probably get better looking! Maybe I have exaggerated the benefits a bit…

7. Passion.  Bringing passion to everything you do will keep you focused and excited. I am not sure you can fake passion, so you will be caught up in it. This is really positive, be passionate at work (appropriately so) and at home. Passion is contagious and inspiring. When you have passion for life, everything feels more meaningful.  When you have passion you naturally focus on being better. You have intense enthusiasm for what you are doing. I personally fall a bit short here. 
I know people who are sad/bummed all day on Sunday because they have to go to work on Monday. Be the person who cannot wait to get to work and get the day started.   Have the same level of excitement on Monday as you have on Friday.  Bring passion to your job and you will excel, there is no doubt about it.

8. Being Coachable.  Perhaps my favorite quality in working with teams and business owners in my coaching business is having them be coachable. People need to be coachable to get to the next level. Even Superbowl LV (55 for most of us) MVP has more than one coach.  If the Superbowl MVP is coachable, you are not beyond being coachable. Everyone has different talents and experiences, being open to learning from others; that is being coachable. Being coachable is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary, being coachable is allows you to stand on the shoulders of another and learn from them and reach new heights. The Superbowl MVP did not learn from someone who can throw a football better or farther, the MVP was being coached by someone who can see the bigger picture and help him make incremental improvements to become the best that he can be. Be coachable in your personal relationships; learn what is important to the other person and show them you care. We all make mistakes, being coachable is accepting a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes our pride gets in the way of allowing others to coach us. Be willing to listen and make incremental changes.

9. Doing Extra.  What a difference a little extra can make. A business associate calls it the 5-minute favor. As a window washer, he is in people’s homes every day.  If something needs to be done and it takes him less than 5 minutes, he just does the little extra. One day it might he repairing some molding around a window, another day it might be repairing a screen while he is washing the window. Yet another day, it might be retrieving the Frisbee from the roof. Every day we all can find a “little extra” to do. Seriously, we all can do a little extra at home or at the office that is unexpected and takes us little or no time. In my personal life, whenever I borrow someone’s car/truck, I always top off the tank.  Even if I have a five minute trip. I prefer to top off the tank rather than leave money, I think it is much more appreciated. Frankly, who cares about a $10 or $20 bill in the console. Now having someone fill your gas tank, that’s much more memorable.

10. Being Prepared.  In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote that to Be Prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”.  Being prepared requires us to think about the future, maybe 30 minutes, 30 hours, 30 days or 30 years. Think about and plan for the future. Don’t be that person who forgets their cash when you go out to dinner, make sure you always have money available. Life is full of pleasant surprises, being prepared can make the difference between an outstanding experience or wanting a “do over”. Being prepared does not mean being rigid and fully planned, on the contrary being prepared increases our flexibility and resilience. Think about the couple that has $50K in saving, imagine the different opportunities they have vs the couple with no savings.  Planning and being prepared offers untold opportunities. 

Success comes in many forms and often in unexpected ways.  Practice the list of
10 Things That Require Zero Talent and watch your personal relationships and attitude soar.  I encourage you to copy this list and post it so the people you care about can see it.  The sign is also for sale online – 10 Things That Require Zero Talent.

Stev Stegner, MBA