To build and develop true relational influence, we have to be invited into someone’s relational space versus what we sometimes do, which is invade someone’s relational space.
By “relational space,” I mean that invisible dynamic inside of people where they either open themselves to someone else’s input…or resist it. For instance, if someone refuses to allow us into his “relational space,” that means he’ll resist any advice, input, or coaching we offer. We often don’t pay close enough attention to this interpersonal dynamic, and in the process, we break trust, lose credibility, and diminish our capacity to influence.
Think about this dynamic in a different way. Imagine hiring a personal trainer at a local gym to help you get in shape. By hiring him, you give him permission to coach you, offer his advice, and even push you to exercise with greater effort and focus. You are inviting him into your “space.”
On the contrary, imagine seeing a friend at the mall. After saying hello, he begins assessing your physical health, tells you how much you need to exercise, and then commands you to “get down and give him 50 (pushups).” I don’t know about you, but I’d be wondering where the hidden camera was.
When put in these terms, it what a bizarre moment. But enter the world of relationships, and we often ignore this same principle. We offer advice, input, and coaching to people who have not yet invited us into their relational space. To them, our approach may even seem bizarre because we’re trying to impose on them something they’ve never asked us to give them.