How to Build Exceptional Connections with David Bradford and Carole Robin
David Bradford and Carole Robins from the Stanford Graduate School of Business course Interpersonal Dynamics talk about improving existing relationships, building new connections and more in this latest episode. They are also the authors of the book ['Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues'](https://www.amazon.com/Connect-Building-Exceptional-Relationships-Colleagues/dp/0593237099)
Graham, David and Carole start the podcast by talking about the legendary 'Touchy-Feely' program in the Stanford Graduate School of Business course Interpersonal Dynamics.
>David: What they discover in this course, almost inevitably, is that the more they are themselves: the more interesting they are, the more attractive there. We frequently have students halfway through the course say to another one: "I thought in finance, you were really obnoxious, but now that I see you and I see that you’re human, I like you." So where this translates is that they not only learned that they can be themselves but they learn how to be themselves, they take this elsewhere.
>Carole: People do business with people. They don't do business with ideas, or machines or money. So, that's why this course has become so legendary.
Graham then asks about the hallmarks of exceptional relationships.
> Carole: Relationships exist on a continuum. You can have a functional relationship, a perfectly functional relationship and not have it be exceptional. You can have dysfunctional relationships at the very other end. But an exceptional relationship is one where we both can be ourselves and neither one of us is afraid of what the other one will do, with whatever we share with each other. That's one of the hallmarks. Another hallmark is that we can have productive conflict, and in fact, we see conflict as an opportunity to deepen our relationships.
>David: For this high trust, the essence of what you say is what you mean, that I don't have to second guess you.
Carole and David share how important rebuilding relationships after disagreements.
>David: A key part of what we’re talking about is that you don’t have to do things perfectly. I mean, we’ve done things that have screwed up a lot with each other, each of us, with our spouse, with our friends and so on. But you can recover. If you wholeheartedly recover, and not just say: "Well, let’s agree to disagree" that doesn’t do anything, the relationship gets even stronger.
They also share their tips on how to de-escalate conflicts.
>Carole: Sometimes you have to take a breath and say: "You know what, I think we’re both a little too spun up right now. Let's take 10 minutes or 20 minutes and, you know, take a breath. But let’s commit to coming back". That’s the key.
>David: It's a matter of sticking in there, being persistent, being exploratory, catching yourself and helping the other person to catch themselves. None of this is easy peasy.
Graham finishes the podcast by asking David and Carole if there is a downside to being experts at building relationships.
> Carole: I'm just as flawed as any other human being. We talk in the book about how it does take two to tango.
> David: I find meaningful relationships, where people talk about what's important to them, so rewarding that I don't have patience for the superficial cocktail party stuff. I'm bored by that. I'd rather be by myself. Or I'd rather try to take that conversation and drive it deeper. So when I'm at a cocktail party, rather than going around and see how many people I can meet, I find somebody who's looks a little interesting and then I ask things about them, because I want to find out about them so I’m able to build the sort of relationship, even if it’s temporary, that’s more meaningful.
Graham Allcott is the founder of time-management training company [Think Productive](www.thinkproductive.com).
This podcast is produced by [Rizelle Paredes](https://www.linkedin.com/in/rizelleparedes04/) and is hosted on [Podiant](www.podiant.co).
Brought to you by Graham Allcott of Beyond Busy