Good relationships are about give and take; they are not a one-way street. I often talk about self- care and how we cannot pour from an empty cup. But how can we help to fill someone else’s cup to create a sense of belonging, togetherness and connectedness?

We do not travel alone. If you help others get what they want, you will get what you want. How can we fill other people’s cups during a pandemic? How can team leaders do one-on-ones during times of social distancing?

Two major drivers of human behaviour are attention and control.

  • How are you paying attention to those who are important in your life – at home and at work?
  • How are you helping others to feel more in control of their lives?

If people feel unseen and out of control, it is a recipe for disaster. They resort to negative, attention-seeking behaviour which can be destructive, and often go into over-control. This leads to mistakes, increased stress and often unnecessary complexity, which wastes time.

To get to know people in your circle of influence and to fill their cup, you must get to know them a little more than skin deep. You have to be interested in them. When people feel seen and heard it makes such a difference to the quality of your connection and builds trust and loyalty.


There are three important, non-verbal questions everyone asks every day. This happens subconsciously, without them even knowing. Yes, you ask them too of those who are important in your life at home and work!

  • Do you see me?
  • Do you hear me?
  • Am I important to you?

If there are three yes answers, one’s cup is full. If there are no answers in this list, just watch how negative, attention-seeking behaviours and control issues kick in. I write about this in detail in my book, Future-proof Yourself (Penguin Random House).


We all have our preferred communication styles and it’s important to get to know them – for ourselves and for others. Two key ones are:

  • Talker or non-talker
  • Toucher or non-toucher

These gives you clues as to how to communicate best with people so that your messages actually land. Talkers talk straight back where non-talkers may need time to respond. Perhaps a walk and talk with a non-talker will yield better results than putting them on the spot. A toucher will no doubt be a hugger too, and will feel affirmed when you walk past them and perhaps put a hand on their shoulder where a non-toucher would find that an invasion of their space – something you need to respect to build trust.


I love Gary Chapman’s famous Five Love Languages. If you want the person you are connecting with to feel loved and affirmed, communicate in a way that works for them:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts
  • Physical touch

I, for instance, am a words-of-affirmation person, followed closely by acts of service. Talk to me and do things for me like change a light bulb, and I feel very loved. Don’t do those things and I feel rejected and invisible. What are your two primary love languages and do you know the love languages of the important people in your life? It’s amazing how we can miss the boat entirely and that means that all our efforts could be a waste of time. For more information on the Five Love Languages visit xxx


How can you have quality one-on-one time in a socially-distanced world with friends and colleagues?

One of the most popular pieces of advice I give to team leaders at the moment is to do a one-on-one walk and talks with team members if they live in the same town. It gets you out and exercising and you get to talk and connect in a very different way to when you are across a screen from each other.

You will be amazed at what comes up in a walk-and-talk versus a face-to-face situation whether over a cup of coffee or over a screen. This is because motion shifts emotion, it unsticks us, and people open up in a different way entirely, helping you get to know each other on another level. Please do try it and see how it works for you. And let me know. It could be the best thing you implemented to improve the quality of your relationships (at work and at home) in a very long time.


One of the biggest lessons I learnt in my direct-selling career, that taught me so much about human nature and human behaviour, is that if you help someone get what they want, you will get what you want. Whether conversations are online or offline, ask these questions to determine what people value:

  • What’s important to you?
  • Why is that important to you?
  • How can I help you get that/get there?


  • Always remember that people are human beings first before they are human doings
  • People want to be noticed, they want to know they matter and are not invisible
  • Affirmation and validation will contribute to the other person’s growth, engagement and commitment
  • You want to be the leader or colleague people talk about as being supportive of growth – it’s word-of-mouth marketing for you


  • Be careful of managing your family members as resources instead of human beings. It’s a trap that busy and efficient people can fall into.
  • Really ‘see’ them for everything they are, not just what they can do.
  • When negative, attention-seeking behaviour plays out in your personal relationships, check in with the three important questions everyone asks every day and see what answers they are getting from you.
  • Nobody can pour from an empty cup.
  • Everyone wants to experience a sense of belonging and togetherness with those important to them, both adults and children. How we experience that is dependent on communication styles, love languages and how we pay attention to each other.
  • Switch off your devices if you really intend to connect face-to-face.

And remember that as a business and motivational speaker, I help leadership and teams to raise human potential – their own, those around them, and their children, who all form part of the human economic ecosystem.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Azania Mosaka Show on 702, where we discussed this topic of disruption.