How To Do A Better Job Of Connecting With Others
According to the Harvard Business Review, the No.1 criteria for advancement and promotion for professionals is an ability to communicate effectively.
Author John C. Maxwell, states, “Only one thing stands between you and success. It isn’t experience or talent. To be successful, you must learn how to really connect with people. And while it may seem like some folks are just born with it, the fact is anyone can learn how to make every communication an opportunity for a powerful connection.”
Connecting with others is not a talent that comes naturally to me. I’m a task-focused “do it now” kind of person. Whilst I am good at “getting things done”, I am not naturally strong in the “taking care of people” aspect of leadership. For me, it is a learned behavior, and something that I continually work on.
Fortunately one of my mentors shared a great mantra which has proved immensely helpful to me: “Spend 2 minutes longer with a person than you normally would, and ask them 2 more questions than you normally would.”
Here are some other tips I’ve picked up:
In social situations, go first. Initiating a conversation often feels awkward. It means risking rejection. Prepare two or three questions you can ask beforehand. At the close of a conversation, ask if there is anything you can do to help them and then make sure you follow through.
PAY FULL ATTENTION
Eliminate or tune out distractions. Look away from the screen. Put what you are doing down. Give them your eyes, body, brain, and energy. Take a genuine interest in what the person is saying.
SHOW THAT YOU CARE
When you are trying to connect with people, it’s not about you – it’s about them. Don’t just focus on getting your opinions across, or telling them about how great your product or service is. Talk more about them, and less about you. Focus on them and their needs. If you are in sales, and you want people to take action – they will do so for their reasons, not yours.
IT’S ABOUT THE FEELING
People will not always remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
MORE THAN WORDS
It has been said that:
What we say accounts for 7% of what is believed.
The way we say it: 38%
What they see: 55%
This may not be entirely true (recent evidence has cast doubt on this old study and has suggested words are actually much more important than we have been led to believe). Regardless, people may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. The exact words you use are far less important than your passion and conviction in saying them.
Know yourself. Know your audience. Know your stuff. As jazz great Charlie Parker once said, “If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Cut to the chase before your listener starts thinking, “What’s the point?”
Being simple as a communicator isn’t a weakness – it’s a strength. The measure of a great teacher isn’t what the teacher knows; it’s what their students learn. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.”
REPETITION. REPETITION. REPETITION.
The first time you say something, it’s heard. The second time, it’s recognized. The third time, it’s learned. I’ve also heard it said that, “At the point when you are getting sick of repeating yourself, other people are only just beginning to hear it for the first time”.
Who do you need to do a better job of connecting with today?