Introvert Leadership: 4 Lessons in Relationship Building I Learned from my 6 year old Niece
Just because you’re an adult and an Introvert Leader doesn’t mean you can’t learn great lessons from children. I think they get overlooked far too much but their wisdom and approach to things is often times brilliant. It’s pure and untainted by life’s sometimes-harsh lessons.
One of the hardest things I face is approaching someone for the first time. I have no idea how to start the conversation because I have no frame of reference or context to base anything on. Yet, here we are. We’re both in the same place at the same time and connecting with others is why I’m here. A moment of terror sets in.
Does this sound familiar?
If you pay attention to children, like I did with my youngest niece, here is what you’ll learn:
- Look around for just the “right” person to approach. You see kids do this all the time. They walk in to a place and very carefully survey the space. They are first looking for other kids. They are then looking for kids that are approximately their age and lastly, they are looking for kids doing things that are interesting. All of those conditions don’t always exist and when that’s the case, they at least know the options.Lesson: Spend time looking around when you go places where you’re not likely to know anyone. Look for someone with a friendly face and body language that speaks to you.
- Ask them if they want to play. This is a huge lesson from children. They aren’t sophisticated enough to “converse”, they get right down to it. They are looking for receptivity with that very simple question.Lesson: Not everyone wants to talk or converse. It has nothing to do with you. Nevertheless, approach people to find out if they want to talk and to connect. Be friendly and warm and ask a few questions. If they don’t open up to you fairly quickly, just know it has nothing to do with you. They just don’t want to play. Time to move on.
- Play hard, have fun and get to know if you’ve got the chemistry to be friends. Kids quickly figure out if this new person they just met is good to spend time with. Do they share toys easily? Do they hit or bite? You know, the important things.Lesson: You have to spend time in someone’s company before you know enough about the future of the relationship. Just like my niece, some people you like and others you don’t. The good news is that as big kids, most of us don’t bite.
- Will you be my friend? I know you’ve heard this one. When they hit it off in a big way with another child, they are totally uninhibited to say so. Short, very sweet and nothing confusing about their intent.Lesson: Be willing to let the other person know you’d like to get to know them better. As introverted as I can be, I’ve said to a few people where I had instant chemistry that I’d like to meet up again and really enjoyed my time meeting them. They usually are very flattered – but it’s very sincere on my part.
If you’re looking for the big captains of industries to tell you how to network or build relationships, make an appointment with a child you know. They have plenty of things to teach if you will only listen.
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