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Ten Ways to Blow Your Chances of Building a Relationship

Many years ago, I used to show up five minutes late everywhere I went, believing that the universe generally accepted a margin of five minutes.

One day a client and mentor named Nancy looked me in the eye and said something in a kind but no-nonsense way: “Part of the image you are projecting to people is that you are always late. Don’t let it get in the way.”

I’ve been five to 10 minutes early ever since.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Dale Carnegie

Ten Relationship Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone gets “out of shape” from time to time when it comes to first impressions. As a reminder, here are ten mistakes to avoid if you have hopes of taking a new relationship further:

  1. Running late. If you make it a habit of running late, we will think of you as being disorganized and undependable overall. A proactive, self-motivated person is always on time, if not a few minutes early.
  2. Dominating the conversation. Talking too much makes you a boor. Asking intelligent questions and listening thoughtfully is classy. In fact, listening is your first level of positive influence.
  3. Glancing about the room. Do you look into the eyes of people when you meet them, or just glance quickly at them? Trusting relationships begin with meaningful eye contact.
  4. Weak handshake. At minimum a weak handshake says you are low on energy and assertiveness. Worse, women may interpret a weak handshake from a man as patronizing.
  5. Absent from the moment, multi-tasking. How often you check your phone when being with others says something about your lack of emotional intelligence. Given the negative impact, it’s surprising how widespread this habit has become.
  1. Impatience. If you are impatient and short with people in service positions we will assume you have little empathy and lack leadership insight.
  2. Negativity. If you begrudge others success, you are playing small. Studies show that talking about your co-workers in a negative way says something undesirable about your personality.
  3. Poor Posture. Rounded shoulders suggest low self-esteem, while standing tall suggests healthy confidence.
  4. Too serious and humorless. People who can lighten up and not take themselves too seriously allow us to relax and enjoy their company.
  5. Slang. If your vocabulary is packed with the slang, you may seem unoriginal and shallow, “Right? I mean, it’s like, you know–.”

How do you practice new behavior?

Habits are the result of many small decisions. To begin, notice what you experience others. This “noticing” of what works will bring you into the present. Build a muscle for noticing and begin to consciously choose new behavior (again and again) until is chooses you.

The human connection is the fundamental spark that makes things go. The ability to build relationships is essential to leadership–and a happy life.

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.