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How to Connect the “Triple-A Way”

“I love your prints!” I said to the two brightly attired women who were exiting the lobby of my office building just ahead of me. “You look wonderful together!”

They were startled — and delighted! I could hear them chattering to each other as I walked away: “Wasn’t that nice! Well, we do look good!” Although they hadn’t seemed to be feeling particularly positive when I first saw them, now they were smiling and nodding to each other, looking as if they had just left a party. I left them, feeling pretty pleased, myself!

What Goes Around Comes Around

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated,” Dale Carnegie wrote in his 1936 book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He also wrote, “If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.”

When I complimented the women on their outfits, I was reminded of how instantaneous, easy, and even fun it can be to say something acknowledging to people, and how valuable even a brief sense of connection can be.

Connection creates the spark of positive relationship; it makes you feel like you belong, like you matter, and helps counteract the grinding, draggy parts of both work and life. And when you start some positivity going, just by giving someone else a lift, you’ll usually get one back — completing a virtuous cycle!

Juice Up Your Interactions

Rev up your connection power with three brief, simple actions that are as small and light as AAA batteries:

  1. Awareness – Just notice people. Observe how they put themselves across, how they behave, how they respond. Pay attention to what’s going on with both strangers and the folks you see every day. Feel your brain light up as you notice more details. Look for every possible opening.
  2. Appreciation – For each person, what positive thoughts come up for you? Is there a kind, constructive, encouraging comment you can make to that person?
  3. Affirmation – Make clear your sincere interest in the person. Your tone of voice and expression are crucial. Smile. Nod. Those natural physical gestures will support your words and cement the sense of authenticity.

If you’re successful, you’ll trigger the other person’s mirror neurons to fire, and they’ll smile and nod back, even if they don’t have anything in particular to say in response. If the timing is right, you and the other participant(s) can then go on your merry way, triggering additional sparky connections in your next encounter.

Now, Amplify That Impulse!

When you carry around good feelings about your colleagues, and when your colleagues know they’re well-regarded, that positivity can eventually create a kind of buffer or cushion to mute the usual transitory structural negatives that occur from time to time in employment relationships. That’s what happens when people who show that they notice and care about each other get to work together.

The same can be equally true in personal relationships, whether it’s with the neighbors you pass on the block, the shop owners you patronize, or even the people you live with. So, what are you waiting for? By giving, you receive, and it’s easy to amplify that effect: All you need to do are three small things that start with A…

Onward and upward,


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