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  • Writer's pictureIsabel Aneyba

The Relationship Mindset: 3 Ways to Gain Friends

Many times research clients are surprised about how quickly I develop relationships with participants during individual and group interviews. Participants feel very comfortable to be themselves and share their truths. Clients say “I can’t believe they shared that! What did you do?

As a marketing researcher, I have learned to develop quick relationships with participants. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said “The most empowering relationships are those in which each partner lifts the other to a higher possession of their own being”. I learned a lot about how to apply this idea from Matthew Kelly and his book “7 levels of intimacy”. This is what I do:  

-         Listen from the heart, build acceptance. “Be yourself, tell me what you believe” Listen to others and allow them to reveal facts about themselves and their opinions. I particularly pay attention to their opinions through the adjectives they use. Our opinions say something about how we have responded to the facts of our lives. I believe that every person is a product of their experiences. Therefore if I am tempted to judge anybody, I just remind myself that if I had this person’s life experiences, I would probably say something similar. This keeps me focused on accepting others even if I do not agree with them. We all thrive when we feel accepted. During the interviews, I speak politely and gently to encourage others to share their opinions in the same way.

-         Listen to their dreams and hopes. “Your dreams are important to me” Our dreams are the vision to our lives. We share our dreams with people we feel accepted by, because our dreams reveal who we are. During introductory exercises, we ask participants to share their dreams. This ignites their participation and facilitates a deeper relationship among them. Often, during breaks I see participants talking to the ones that share a common purpose or dream with them (raising their kids well, making their business work, achieving life balance). They start to form one on one relationships.

-         Listen to their feelings and faults. “I am afraid and acknowledge my mistakes” The disclosure of our feelings reveals our humanity and makes us vulnerable. We reveal our needs to be listened to, to be loved, to be respected, and valued. But this requires courage. During interviews, I take that risk and make myself vulnerable so participants will as well. For example, if we are talking about healthcare, I share an illness that I have had and what I am afraid of. When the participants tell me they do not understand my instruction, I recognize this and thank them for pointing that out. This helps me to connect with them on a deeper level. The ability to accept each other’s fears and faults reflects great maturity and uplifts our relationships. We learn that we are not alone in our journeys. This realization allows us to recognize others emotional needs even though they may not be aware of them.

I encourage you to implement these ideas in your next encounter with family and friends. The key is to strive to listen until you know how people feel and why they are feeling that way. You may discover an emotional need that they are not aware of, and help them fulfill that emotional need, a true sign of a loving relationship. As Matthew Kelly says “Love is transformative”.

COMARKA empowers marketers to develop fruitful emotional connections with their customers through dialogue.

For more information, contact the author: Isabel Aneyba at and (512) 299-2077 

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