Tracks in the Snow: How to Connect with People Who Avoid You
January 12, 2011 1 Comment
I trudged out in the new snow to get the morning paper, bleary-eyed from staying up too late. On the way back to the house, I noticed the tracks. Deer tracks. Hundreds of tiny hoof prints. I paused, marveling at how close to the house they were. I had never seen deer so close to my home. But, the tracks were evidence; evidence that they do indeed come near, just not when I’m around.
What? Don’t they like me? Don’t they know I won’t hurt them? Don’t they know I think they are beautiful?
OK. I won’t take it personally. Maybe their instincts make them wary. Maybe they’ve encountered hunters. Maybe they are indoctrinated at deer school with showings of “Bambi.”
Are there people in your life like those deer? People you desperately want to see, to connect with, but all you get is “tracks in the snow?” The teenager who leaves a trail of dirty dishes, but sits behind a closed door; the employee who picks up a paycheck, but rarely picks up the phone when you call; or the prospect who fills out the inquiry form on your website, but never returns emails?
How do you connect with them?
In two words: persistent patience.
All predators know the value of persistent patience. When your life depends on getting close to make an attack, you will be persistent. When you realize you could blow it by attacking too soon, you will be patient.
So, you need a little of the predator’s persistent patience, but with love as your goal, not lunch. Love, with a touch of kill. You need to be hungry for the relationship, as ravenous as the lioness in hunting her prey. You need to persist in uncovering wants and needs and to be patient in realizing that building relationships takes time. You also need imagination, the willingness to change and action.
Your greatest tool is your imagination. Imagine the relationship as it could be. Imagine having a close, loving relationship with your child. Imagine your employees being honest, productive and responsive. Imagine having such great appeal to your prospects that they are begging to do business with you. What does that look like? What does that sound like? How does that feel?
Your next greatest tool is your willingness to change. What are you doing or not doing that is hindering the relationship? And what are you willing to change? Do you need to see things from the other’s point of view?
Finally, you need to act. You can have wonderful, lofty goals, but if you never act, they are worthless. If you can see the relationship as it could be, if you are willing to change, but if you are not willing to put in some action, nothing will happen. Most actions in relationship-building involve increasing trust. How’s your Trust-o-meter? What do you need to do to increase trust? Do you need to listen without judgment or without interrupting? Do you need to understand more? Do you need to improve your accountability?
As I stood in my snow-blanketed driveway, I imagined the deer standing still and letting me admire their beauty. I realized that I would have to do things to gain their trust. And I knew that I would have to be persistent in taking the steps, the trust-building steps. If I didn’t, all I would ever see is “tracks in the snow.”