How to Succeed with People without Trying Too Much

A Leader’s Perspective

Intrigued? Sound a bit counter-intuitive? Because we want to be liked or successful, sometimes we just try too hard with people. And trying usually shows up in selling oneself, which is the opposite of how to succeed with people. There’s a better approach to connect with people and achieve more success in leading them.

Most people focus on making a good first impression, and yes, first impressions pertaining to appearance, body language, and facial expressions are important. However, first impressions extend into those first few words spoken. If you’re like many, when you initially meet someone, especially someone important, you might start talking about yourself, a project, or chat about the safe topics like the weather. Instead, focus on the other person. Be a study of other people and help them FEEL accepted and valued: understood, needed, and affirmed for who they are. When you turn the focus on others, and genuinely engage to talk about themselves, you win a friend, ally, or colleague.

You may not feel skilled at this point in making people the center of attention. I wouldn’t expect you to be if you haven’t practiced it. I only wish these relationship skills were taught in high school or college. If so, we’d all be more prepared when we stepped into the real world. At first, you will likely have to be intentional in how you connect, but don’t worry, with practice, it will become second nature.

Some concepts you need to keep in mind:

  1. People can spot fake. Understand who you are, and if you’re not happy with how you show up, develop and take action in changing your attitudes and behaviors. Always operate within your authentic self.
  2. Build trust across all your relationships. Trust is both the foundation and mortar in every relationship. Trust starts with you, and if it’s an area you’d like to learn how to deepen it, reach out for a conversation. It’s an essential element worth exploring if you need help.
  3. Engage people beyond the surface conversation. People love to talk about themselves, so ask lots of good open-ended questions that stimulate thought, make people laugh, or put people more at ease.
  4. Ask people for advice. People love to be asked what they think and believe as long as they know their response will land on non-judgmental ears.
  5. Find common ground. What do you share in common? You might be interested what you learn when you ask meaningful open-ended questions.
  6. Identify people’s strengths, then find opportunities to leverage those strengths as well as promote them.  

Overall, people are complex, because they are a mixture of core values, personality preference, motivations, and external pressures. However, as human beings we all share the deep desire to FEEL loved and accepted for who we are despite being a work in progress. We acknowledge that not everyone has to like us, but we want to FEEL valued.

When you interact with others, how do you make them FEEL? If you’re a leader, inspiring people is less about logic and more about how you make people FEEL. If you’d like to explore specific situations or relationships, or need a tune-up, schedule a coaching session. I can help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at