Tag Archives: connection

B.U.I.L.D. Better Relationships

In any personal relationship, whether it be a close personal friend, a business contact, or even just someone you encounter on the street, there is a possibility for, shall we say, “differences of opinions.”  When the inevitable interpersonal conflicts come up, how do you handle them?  How do you resolve conflicts and improve relationships?

One simple but extremely powerful technique that I’ve never had fail me or anyone I’ve taught it to is the B.U.I.L.D. Method (originally developed as B.R.I.C.K.S. – I was teaching a group of construction management students).  Years of training and experience in managing conflict, plus a study of human communications and relationships, plus years of (would you believe) martial arts and combatives training, plus an obliging body of scientific research helped bring this method to life.  It is simple, but effective.  Give it a try!


Okay, so I once came across an NLP expert who said this wasn’t necessary, and for only $250 he’d tell you why.  Biology would say he’s wrong, but I won’t go into it.

In this step, pay attention to your breathing.  You don’t even have to take time away from the discussion or situation – it can be done on the fly. Are you holding your breath?  Are you breathing too fast?  Slow and control your breathing.

Often all it takes is one slow, deep breath and you can return to a breathing rhythm that helps you be calm and more focused.  Deliberately keep your breathing slow until you don’t have to think about it anymore.


Let go.  Let go of your position for a moment.  Let go of the need to be right. Let go of the fear of failure. Let go of your ego.  It is really hard to do the next three steps unless you do this one.  Frankly, it is next to impossible to reach a true resolution without it.  If you paid attention to the Breathe step, untethering is much easier.


Invite the other person to engage in a conversation, and invite them to share their perspective first.  The invitation can be through words and/or body language.

For example, make eye contact (as culturally appropriate) and use an engagement phrase such as one of the following.

  • “Let’s discuss this.  What are your thoughts?”
  • “Tell me more about your [thoughts, feelings, etc.] on the matter.”
  • “I’d really like to know more about…”
  • “Help me understand what you mean by…”


Really listen to the other person and genuinely seek to understand.  Don’t be thinking about what your next argument or comeback will be, what you’re going to have for dinner, why they chose to wear that color combination, etc. – focus on the other person.  You can strengthen this step by using connected listening techniques. Listen for not only what they say they want, but why.  What are the underlying values, needs, interests and emotions?  What are they really saying?


Once you have listened to the other person, then you can share your perspective.  Don’t just attack what the other person has said, but explain how you see things and why.  Then have a dialog (not a debate) about the different options that could resolve the situation.  Ideally, you’ll look for options that will address each person’s needs and concerns.


Once you B.U.I.L.D. a positive connection you have the foundation for resolution.  Even if you don’t ultimately agree, if you have put genuine effort into following the steps you can end with a positive note and an improved or strengthened relationship.

How to Connect with Someone New Without Saying a Word

No, the title does not mean we’ll be discussing how to use texting to introduce yourself.  Here we’ll harness the power of body language.

Ever been in a social situation where you had (or wanted) to meet someone new?  Was it hard or easy for you?  How quickly did you build a rapport (assuming you did).  How would you like some simple ways to establish a connection before you even say a word?

Would You Talk to You?

Before we introduce the techniques, do this.  Stand in front of a mirror and observe your “normal” look. How inviting and personable is it?  Would you be interested in talking to you?  Now approach the mirror as if you were going to introduce yourself to someone.  Ask yourself the same questions.

Do you look open, inviting, and friendly?  What does your facial expression say?  “Hi, nice to meet you”, “I’m top dog and don’t you forget it”, or “I’m completely scared to death so please be nice”?

How is your posture?  Is it erect?  Hunched?  Challenging?  Non-threatening? Confident?

Reach out your hand to shake hands and look at your hand position.  Take note; we’ll discuss that in a minute.

4 Non-Verbal Ways to Build Instant Connection

If you want to connect with someone before you even say a word, try these four things.

1.  Smile.

Put a smile on your face.  Make it genuine – a fake or mocking smile will have the opposite of the intended effect.  A simple smile can have a huge impact on how someone responds to you.  Don’t believe me?  The next time you go out somewhere smile at everyone you meet.  Sure there will be some grumps, but more frequently you’ll get a smile in return.

2. Tilt Your Head.

Tip your head slightly to one side, with your chin angled down.  This tends to indicate comfort and trust.  Chin up to high and you look like you are haughty and looking down your nose at the person.  Head tilted too far and you just look weird.

3. Stand Erect and Open the Bubble.

Stand with your body in good, erect posture, and slightly angled away from the person you are meeting.  Standing with good posture indicates confidence and comfort.  A slight angle is open and non-threatening.

Find a balance.  Being square on can be somewhat threatening.  Being turned too far away makes it look like you are disinterested or ready to make a break for it.  In the self-defense world this slightly angled stance is called “blading.” Since that doesn’t sound particularly non-threatening, in the interpersonal relations world I call it “opening the bubble.”

If you want to test this, have a friend or colleague help you.  Stand facing each other, with bodies squared against each other.  Slowly move forward towards each other and stop when it starts to get uncomfortable (note: this exercise doesn’t necessarily work so well with an intimate partner).  Stand there for a moment and feel the bubble of uncomfortable energy.  Now, simply step one of your feet back half a step so that you are slightly angled to the other person.  You will feel a release of that energy.  The bubble opens up and the energy dissipates.

4. Use the Open Hand.

No, don’t slap them!  If culturally appropriate, shake their hand.  How you shake their hand matters.  Reach out with your palm turned slightly face up. This is an opening and inviting gesture.

Palm down indicates that you are placing yourself in a position of power.  Palm perpendicular is neutral, neither welcoming nor dominant.  Perpendicular is okay, but doesn’t particularly speed up the connection building.  Palm up is much more friendly and inviting.

When shaking hands, match the pressure of the other person.  Don’t crush their hand, but don’t be a dead fish either.


Put these four things together and you have a winning combination for making a quick connection and a good first impression.  Since you won’t necessarily be a natural at doing these in a well, natural way, if you need to you can practice in front of a mirror until putting them together becomes comfortable for you.

Now, go get connected!