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It’s well established that “the best leaders are insatiable learners,” as Bill Taylor, founder of Fast Company, once said. I would argue that that same trait is true of people that are best at building genuine relationships. In fact, “Learn every day through every interaction” is one my key principles for building genuine relationships. 

While authenticity is critical, as I pointed out in my first principle for building genuine relationships, one must ultimately be able to establish credibility and respect. How? That respect can be established simply by:

  • Being intellectually curious
  • Believing that any person you interact with, junior or senior, can teach you something.

Both of these actually go hand-in-hand.

Read the first in this series, “Stop Networking and Build Genuine Relationships.”

Being intellectually curious

The smartest people I know do one thing better than anyone: They learn on a daily basis. While they may already be recognized experts, they read even when they don’t have time and they always know what’s going on in the world so they understand the environment in which they operate. This “insatiable” appetite to learn comes from an ingrained belief that “you really don’t know anything.”  That does not mean that you are not confident, but it’s more a recognition that there is no way anyone can keep up with everything that is going on in the world without learning everyday. 

Learning from others

Beyond reading, the best learners believe everyone has something to teach them. They treat every interaction with the same intellectual curiosity with which they treat a research report. They listen, internalize what they hear and evolve their thinking through their myriad conversations.

In terms of building relationships, these two traits work together to allow someone to offer their knowledge and expertise, while at the same time appreciating the perspective and knowledge someone else has to offer.

So what can you do to start to learn every day?

  • Read every day…about news in general, about specific topics and areas you are passionate about.
  • Identify organizations/experts that specialize in your specific interest areas and stay abreast of research and points of view they present.
  • Go outside of your comfort zone to expose yourself to other thinking and other areas that may be adjacent. 
  • Meet people with different perspectives and just listen. Appreciate their perspective and point of view and try to understand where they are coming from.

Next principle coming up:  Offer something of value.

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