Are you genuinely connecting with those you are speaking with? How strongly can they feel your interest, empathy and engagement? And how you make them feel?
How well are you connecting with those around you? You know, your loved ones, your extended family, friends, associates or colleagues, those you work for, those you work with, those that work for you? Are you really connecting with them? Is your communication more often superficial or more often engaged? What makes it different? Is that up to you? Is that up to them? Is it up to how you feel? Is it up to how they feel? If I asked you to think about it and check in with yourself, what might you come up with? And if I asked some of those around you? What might they say? Do you think their view would be very different from yours?
Relating and Connecting
I have seen connecting defined as: to establish a rapport or relationship; to relate. Another one I liked was: to bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established. What I have chosen to avoid is any suggestion linking this word to networking, because that isn’t what I want to discuss today.
I’d really like to talk about connectedness, that is the real “fair dinkum” association of respect and trust based communication that truly unites us with someone we are talking with. This suggests the presence of a growing existence of rapport (which I have learned to call a situation of trusted responsiveness) and both parties wanting to really communicate with each other; to be connecting and connected in the process. I believe this to be true whether there is an emotional, (romantic) or business connection. It is about really listening to and engaging with the other, as if nobody else existed around them.
I can hear some of you shaking your head thinking that such communication is almost impossible to achieve in today’s rushed and hurried world. And I can really empathize with that thought. Such levels of communication as I described in my blogs Empathy and Are you listening? are indeed rare today, aren’t they? And yet when they do occur, doesn’t it feel very special?
I remember back to my multilevel marketing days when we sought out our “up-line”, particularly those of very significant leadership levels in the organization, that despite there being 100’s of other people around, when we spoke to them, it was as if nobody else around us existed; so strong was their emphasized focus on us – the people they were talking to. It was inspiring and something I remind myself of often to try to emulate in all my communication, not just when I’m coaching a client where such levels of connection are imperative.
Leadership and Connecting
Just have a think about your leaders in your workplace for a moment. How well do they listen? How approachable are they? How easy do you feel about just walking up to them or into their office to “have a chat” or to engage with them about an issue or an opportunity? Do they have an open and welcoming, even inviting aura around them? Is their “door really open”, both literally and figuratively, or do you perceive them in a “glass house”, sometimes even “protected by a gatekeeper”? And when you do get to them, do they make time to really “connect” with you? Or do you feel being made guilty for having interrupted their day?
And what if you are a leader yourself? How do you think you’d fare if I were posing these questions to your people about you and your style? Really connecting is not really hard to do, is it? But how many of us consider it important enough to actually focus on doing well and doing often enough?
And just in case all you self-employed people thought I’m not talking about you, how do you think you’d fare if I were to ask your clients or associates or business partners about your level of communication connectedness?
You see, I’m really talking about how we go about our everyday communication; about how we want to connect with people; about making the cliché “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” true to us and how we engage most of the time, not just when there are important outcomes at stake.
Consciously and Unconsciously Connecting
Many of you will have heard of or read some of Alan Pease’s books. He is known as “Mr Body Language” and in one of his many outstanding presentations I have heard over the years he shared with us that in the first few minutes of any first encounter between two people has both people “sizing the other up” at an unconscious level, each wondering whether they like the other person, whether they think they could trust them and whether they could work with them, or buy from them. And within those first few minutes of interaction, both will have concluded decisively which of the above are “true” for them. All these conclusions were drawn at an unconscious level with neither party actually being consciously aware of the dynamics of this process. But we are then usually actually driven by these conclusions. Amazing, isn’t it?
So do you think that a superficial “how are you going?” (while your eyes are “working the rest of the room”) will aid their unconscious conclusion? Wouldn’t you want to stack the odds in your favour and truly engage with them as I discussed in the blog Interested or Interesting? whereby you give them your full attention and fully relate to what they are saying?
None of this is hard to understand, nor is it actually hard to do, however to remember to do so and to keep doing so is much harder, isn’t it? And I have learned that all of this is just as important in our everyday communication with those around us as it is in this first encounter. This is another one of those Habits I spoke about, which are the consistent attention to such important “little things” that often lead us to the successes we desire.
When at home, be at home
In my soft skills grooming and in my blog Coping Trilogy one of the tenets I teach my clients is the “when at home, be at home” rule. That means quite simply, that when we are on our way home from work or business etc we would be well advised to use that time to “wind down” our work thinking so that by the time we reach home we are actually able to “switch it off. In that way, when we arrive home we “are truly home”, and able to fully engage with our loved ones. Connecting. Of course there are necessities that will require us to do some emails or log in to work from time to time, but I suggest that these are subject to another rule: “the 30 minute rule”, which suggests that if you can’t do it justice at home within 30 minutes, it actually belongs into tomorrow. Everyone at home will understand and support that, if they know you are true to your “30 minute” word. Can you sense the impact these two little rules could have on the quality of your relationships at home? Connecting.
So if you have been conferred end entrusted the great privilege of leading other people in your endeavours, don’t you think that they deserve the respect and the experience engendered by expecting and experiencing you to be fully connecting with them, when you interact? And if you were able to develop this into one of your success habits, wouldn’t this have a great impact on all your relationships, particularly your most important ones with your loved ones?
I really hope that you have been “connecting the dots” as you have read or listened through this article and that you can really see, feel and resonate with the value such communication with those around you engenders.
And if you are not a leader but led, can you see how this also refers to you just as much?
Go on, please strive to connect, be connecting and be connected.