A Simple Approach to Relationship Building

Relationship building feels like a pain in the butt when your schedule is packed with deadlines. But a healthy relationship makes life better.

A healthy relationship makes life better. Image of cats grooming each other.

A simple approach to relationship building:

#1. Begin with basic questions.

  1. “Where did you grow up?”
  2. “When was the first time you earned a paycheck?”
  3. “What do you like to do when you’re not working?”
  4. “Which family member are you most like?”
  5. “What’s your favorite holiday?”

Look for common ground. Share a bit of yourself. When you don’t chime in, people wonder what you’re after. Trust is built with shared stories.

Questions are beginning. Image of a cat looking at a glowing butterfly.

#2. Follow answers with questions.

Surprise people by asking a second question. Most people don’t listen. You let people know you’re interested in them when you resist the urge to talk about yourself.

  1. “What do you do?” leads to…
  2. “How did you get into that?”…
  3. “What makes you good at that?”…
  4. “When did you realize you loved doing that?”…
  5. “How did you get good at that?”…
  6. “What advice would you give me if I wanted to get better at doing that?”…
  7. “What’s next for you?” (Be sure to include, “For you.”)

#3. Sprinkle affirmations throughout conversations.

  1. “That’s interesting.”
  2. “I think I know what you mean.”
  3. “Wow. That’s wonderful.”
  4. “I’d love to know more about that.”
  5. “I never thought of that.” (Let people know they taught you something.) An alternative is, “I never thought of it that way.”
Relationship building is about connecting, not fixing.


  1. Ask questions people love to answer.
  2. Follow-up by asking a second question. The second question is more powerful than the first.
  3. Never pretend you’re something you’re not.
  4. Be easily impressed.
    • Notice the interests of others.
    • Watch for people to light up. Go with it.
    • Acknowledge discoveries.

Warning: Don’t solve people’s challenges without an invitation. Relationship building is about connecting, not fixing.

Best tip: Show up to learn.

What questions might help people build relationships?

What relationship-building advice do you suggest?

Still curious:

Set Relationship Goals When Employee Retention Matters

7 Relationship Building Rules for Results-Driven Leaders

Building Good Work Relationships – Making Work Enjoyable and Productive