Robert Kaplan is amazed at how often an executive will take a business trip with underlings and learn nothing about them. The former Goldman Sachs vice chairman says he is often surprised by his students at Harvard Business School as well. Students tend to come to him asking advice on a serious issue. Kaplan asks the students who else they have spoken to on the subject, and the answer is invariably no one.
In the age of social media we might have large networks but few if any real relationships. What is a real relationship? Kaplan defines it as one that involves three things: mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual understanding.
In his book, What You're Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential, Kaplan outlines three practical steps you can do to develop such a relationship with someone. They are:
Self-disclosure: You have to tell something about yourself to help that person understand you better. That doesn't mean something superficial like your favorite flavor of ice cream. Tell them something that is meaningful about who you are and where you came from.
Inquiry: Ask someone a question that will help you understand them better.
Seek advice: You are showing someone a great deal of respect when you ask for their advice. They will be flattered.
Watch Kaplan explain the three steps here:
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