Deputy Editor Karen Hudson On The Art of Building Relationships
Just three short years ago Karen Hudson’s life looked like something you’d find on a reality TV show. She was working as an unpaid intern at a marketing company just months after giving birth to a premature baby, and the relationship with her son’s father had just ended. Sleeping on a friend’s couch, she gave new meaning to the term ‘starting over.’
Today, however, Karen Hudson’s life looks much different. Like something out of a feel good movie she went from intern to founder of Mommynoire, the leading lifestyle site for African American moms. Everything you know and love about coming here you can thank Karen and her team. And while she could take sole credit for her miraculous turnaround- just imagine what it must have taken to turn those lemons into a lemon drop martini- it’s not herself that she likes to thank. It’s her relationships. She credits them with carrying her from one point to the next when she was trying to move up that ladder. Without them she wouldn’t be here today.
But if you think that this type of favor with people is a given, think again. It’s an art.
Fortunately, “Konnection,” the nickname Karen was given for her love of connecting people together and her ability to connect with people, is happy to plug you in.
Read on as she shares the art of relationship building.
Mommynoire: How do you cultivate relationships?
Karen: It has a lot to do with your personality. Some people have never learned the art of relationship building. They didn’t get it as a child. They didn’t learn how to share. Some people are good at being alone. But if you want to cultivate it you need to spend time getting to know people past the surface. Make a decision up front where you want the relationship to go. You can’t be personal with everyone and you shouldn’t.
Mommynoire: How do you get past the surface?
Karen: I’m always transparent. I’ll show my scars so people know I’m not perfect. It builds trust and a connection.
Mommynoire: What can a person do to build relationships at work?
Karen: Empower those around you. In my role as “boss” I teach my team how to replace me. When you teach people to surpass you when they’re ready they’re less apt to try and overtake you. It’s also important to say thank you. Let people know they are appreciated. When you value people that value system translates.
Mommynoire: How do you distinguish between good and bad relationships?
Karen: All friendships need balance. I think it was rapper Fabulous who said, “If you can’t be used you’re useless.” Some people think it’s harsh, but I stand by it. If you don’t bring anything to the table in my friendship journey and I can’t bring anything to you then the friendship will always be at a deficit. A relationship can’t sustain if a person can’t learn from someone.
Mommynoire: What is the best kind of relationship?
Karen: I have stronger relationships with people I’m goal oriented with. Friendships evolve into something more organic when you’re there for the same reasons and have similar values. The people I remember are the people who were instrumental to my growth because they helped me on my journey. When we have relationships just for filler and gossip it fades over time.
Mommynoire: Does building relationships take a long time?
Karen: I used to think that length equaled something genuine, but it doesn’t. Time only means something when you’ve had a series of highs and lows and at the end of it you can still say that you gained something strong out of it, which is growth. People can be married for 15 years and still not know that person. But you can know someone for two months and the puzzle just fits.
Mommynoire: What’s one final key to relationship building?
Karen: Commitment is very important. Friends remember sacrifices. When I had my birthday during a snowstorm the friends that came out showed me that through rain, storm, sleet or hail, ‘we’re here!’ I got a job like that because it was a blizzard and the entire staff called out. It was my first day and I walked almost a mile to get there. The manager said, “I will always keep you on our roster because you showed up.” The ones who show up show you something about the bond you have.