Being authentic means being true to oneself. What are your values[i]? How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you? Notice the differences. Be honest with yourself. Take a moment and write a word or two or several and compare how you would describe yourself and how others would describe you. Being true to oneself and connecting with others authentically is key to better relationships.

This article explores one of the elements associated with The Collaboration Effect associated with connecting relationships. The Collaboration Effect is all about connecting relationships, listening actively, and educating judiciously to build bridges to negotiate closure. The focus of this commentary is a brief exploration on the topic of connecting relationships.

Would you like to be more productive, have better relationships with others, and be able to improve your collaboration skills? This commentary will provide you with tips to help you going forward.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”


Connecting and connections


Think about this last statement. There are estimated to be nine billion people in the world today. How is that we can all be connected to each other? It has been proposed that there are only six degrees on average that separate us from others[ii]. That means that simply with a friend of a friend within six handshakes we can find ways in which we relate to each other anywhere in the world. Isn’t that something? Since we can theoretically connect within six degrees it is safe to say that in general, we are all connected in some way. How can you be better connected with those you want to be better connected with going forward?


A smile


Perhaps you want to be better connected at work, at home, with friends, neighbors, associates, or acquaintances. Let us not make this to complicated. It starts with something as simple as a smile. That is right a smile. Did you know that

when someone smiles at you or you at them this has the same psychological impact on your brain as receiving $25,000 or 2,000 chocolate bars?

On a personal note, my wife told me she would take the $25,000. That way she could buy a lot more chocolate bars. But seriously this points out how important a smile can be. Traveling in Eastern and Western Europe and Asia and not knowing the language in various locations I have always found that a smile and simply knowing please and thank you can go a long way based on my own personal experiences. Now let us explore this a little further.


Cheerful outlook


Having a smile demonstrates that what you or someone else sees visually matters. Your attitude matters too. Having a cheerful outlook and a can-do attitude to help can make all the difference in the world. If you are there to help, others will notice this too.

Having a positive attitude can be infectious.

However, even more important is take positive actions to help. However, your intention to help may not be what is needed. This needs to be determined based on the receiver. Before suggestion solutions, suspend your judgment, and ask open ended questions. This is how to build authentic genuine connections by listening first.


Curious questions


Connecting with someone else requires building an understanding of them, their background, their values, and their interests.

As indicated earlier it can start with something as simple as a smile and asking a question. Here are some questions that allow the other person to think and be listened to:


  • “What have you been thinking about lately?”
  • “What’s been going on with you?”
  • “What is most important that we talk about today?’


Or state something like,


  • “I am happy we can share time today.”


As an unscientific experiment I simply reached out to about ten people this past week in anticipation of writing on this topic and simply asked them “what have you been thinking about lately.” This stopped some people dead in their tracks. Then they shared all sorts of information with me. I also was in the mode of wanting to listen, reflect what I heard, and ask more questions of them. What was the result?

Every single person I spoke to wanted to share with me what was important to them.

We began to connect. Each appreciated me listening to them. How did I know this? Each person told me they appreciated me asking. Wow! Was this powerful? People want to connect with others that have similar values, interests, and goals. Can you reach out to others to see what common values and interests you may have with each other?


What are common values you could explore?


Think about values we all have in common and that you would like to have with others. Here are ten that you might expect we all can relate to:




  1. Authentic
  2. Caring
  3. Compassionate
  4. Considerate
  5. Fair
  6. Honest
  7. Kind
  8. Open
  9. Respectful
  10. Trusting


Now, what can you do to demonstrate you really care and that you truly are there to help? That is for you to explore with your open-ended questions, having an attitude to help, and exhibiting your values. But what about someone you do not know anything about?


Research on unknown parties


What can you do before you reach out to someone you do not know at all?

If you know nothing or little about a person, it may be necessary to do research ahead of time.

Do research on social media and with your personal network.

As you begin to know more about the other party on social media or from your network, you may find several ways in which you can relate to each other based on geography, education, nationality, travel, marital status, parental status, income, work background, military experience, professional orientation, vacations, and others. You may also discover differences to discuss related to race, age, gender, physical abilities, class, items mentioned above or other items. Look for and discover common interests, so that you can bring them up in a face-to-face or a virtual meeting.

I hope you found this brief introduction helpful on connecting authentic relationships from The Collaboration Effect. Check out my video on this topic as well as my past and future videos when I elaborate on additional topics associated with The Collaboration Effect and other helpful insights. My blogs, books, additional resources, and other videos may be seen at my web site. It is my pleasure to help you be more productive and better at what you do. Thank you.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]