That’s another saying used in our family, mostly when someone’s just put their foot in their mouth and we’re laughing at their embarrassment. There’s many a true word said in jest, so I thought I’d look into it further.

At work I’ve been looking at networking and working in different ways, including home working. I’m working with various groups to see how they can expand their reach, meet new folk and share what they do and what they know. Where home working is concerned, wr are looking at how we can remain connected when we aren’t always together.

Part of the reasoning is if we always rely on people and ways of doing things we already know, we’ll probably be limiting ourselves to the same levels of interaction, knowledge, creativity and standard of work produced before. That’s not saying dump all your mates or ignore your colleagues but there’s something about concentrating on the ‘weaker links’ in the fringes of your network that might add something extra.

Successfully introducing change is really about communicating well and we generally communicate for four main reasons;

  • To inform
  • To find things out (be informed)
  • To change how people (and importantly ourselves) view things in order to
  • To change how people (and ourselves) act

The last two won’t happen without iterations of the first two. 

I’ve found if you are ‘engaging’ then you will create the right circumstances for mutually beneficial engagement and there’s no way you’ll change someone’s opinion on something if you can’t provide the reasoning to back up what you are discussing. 

Similarly, if you don’t listen to what others might be adding to the conversation then you’re less likely to be rightly informed or able to adjust your own thinking. None of us act differently if we don’t see things differently.

I’ve also found you’ll never make a real difference if you don’t back up what you said you’d do by actually doing it. I’ve covered this before here, and there’s a great post by Paul Taylor where he describes how being a good social connector means you can be influential across organisational boundaries.

The thing is though, you don’t just become influential overnight; by getting a promotion, because you live in a certain postcode, dress a certain way or happen to know certain people. Things like that can play a part but it’s important to consistently demonstrate values and behaviours that allow you to build and hold relationships based on trust and respect.

It’s not always about friends for life but being sociable can make a big difference to how effective you are and how influential you become.

Try it; next time you go somewhere new, don’t look round for people you know, make an effort to talk to someone you don’t.