Archives For Connecting

A Leader’s Communication

As the leader of a team or an organization, you set the tone for communication. A leader’s communication must be consistent, clear, and courteous. But leaders must also be good listeners. When leaders must also be good listeners. When leaders don’t listen …

  • They stop gaining wisdom.
  • They stop “hearing” what isn’t being said.
  • Team members stop communicating.
  • Their indifference begins to spread to other areas.
  • Ultimately, poor listening leads to hostility, miscommunication, and a breakdown of team cohesion.

How are your listening skills? Give yourself a 360-degree review. Ask for feedback concerning your ability and willingness to listen from your boss or mentor, your colleagues, and your subordinates. If you don’t get good grades from all of them, then quiet down, listen up, and work to become a better communicator.

~ John C. Maxwell, Promises for Everyday

everyone_communicates__02537There are a number of books available that tells you the mechanics of communicating, which are essential fundamentals. But how do you get people to want to listen to you? Maybe even more important, how do you feel comfortable enough to communicate with others?

You have to connect with them, not just communicate. Words make up only 7 percent of what you communicate. In order to learn how to communicate at a higher level, people need to know that you care for them.

In John’s book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, he explains how the five principles in the first chapter and five practices in the last chapters can change the way you think about communications.

Here is an outline of the book;

Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation

If you can connect with others—one-on-one, in groups, and with an audience—your sense of community improves, your ability to create teamwork increases, and your influence skyrockets. People who connect with others have better relationships, experience less conflict, and get more things done than those who cannot connect. Leaders who have learned the art of connection are able to communicate their ideas persuasively, establishing buy-in and attracting followers.

Connecting is All About Others

Good communicators have enough humility to recognize that they are not the expert authorities on all matters. They endeavor not to impress people with knowledge, but to connect with others authentically in order to gain the opportunity to influence them. As such, they patiently seek to understand their audience before speaking.

Connecting Goes Beyond Words

Audiences respond to how a communicator makes them feel rather than to what a communicator has to say. Our actions, tone and style communicate far more than our words. Experts estimate that 90% of the impression we convey has nothing to do with what we actually say.

Connecting Always Requires Energy

Connecting with others only happens intentionally. As a communicator, you receive a response to the extent that you invest and prepare. You can’t just step up to the microphone and expect to wow the crowd. First, you must step toward the audience relationally and emotionally by personalizing the message to suit their content.

Connecting Is More Skill Than Natural Talent

People aren’t born with the ability to connect, nor does it develop by accident. Connection happens when people hone their skills and mine their experiences. Great communicators make the most of their background, personality, natural abilities, and knowledge in order to engage an audience—whether in conversation with one person or when speaking to a gathering of thousands.

Connectors Connect on Common Ground

All positive relationships are built on common interests and values. They are founded upon agreement, not disagreement. Even so, leaders neglect searching for common ground. They make assumptions about what others want, get wrapped up in their own agenda and try to control situations rather than collaborating with their team.

Connectors Do the Difficult Work of Keeping It Simple

Life’s issues can be maddeningly complex, and a leader’s job is to bring simplicity and clarity to them. Anyone can identify a problem and point out why it’s a dilemma. However, only good leaders are able to cut through the haze of complexity to arrive at a concrete solution.

Connectors Create an Experience Everyone Enjoys

How you communicate often carries more weight than what you say. Craft your communications appealingly so that you do not bore audience. Having the right message does not matter if your delivery of it puts people to sleep.

Connectors Inspire People

The energy that people put into their work depends upon the inspirational qualities of their leader. Inspiring leaders demonstrate belief in the mission, make evident their value for the team, and communicate high expectations. Leaders who combine these qualities motivate people to contribute their utmost to the organization’s goals.

Connectors Live What They Communicate

In the short run, people judge a leader on his or her communication skills. In the long run, people follow what they see instead of what they are told. They can spot a fraud, and they will not go along with a leader unless they can trust the leader’s convictions and character.

This is one of those books, when studied, can affect your life. I know, that’s a bold statement, but having facilitated a number of Mastermind Study Groups on this book, I feel I can say it. Some of the past participant said,

“This is the best class I’ve taken in my 40 year career here.”

“This really moved me to the next level in my interactions with people. It was wonderfully practical and applicable.”

Is it time for you to take your ability to communicate to a higher level?

If so Bismarck State College’s Continuing Education, Innovation and Training (CETI) is offering this Mastermind Study Group every Thursday from 1:00 – 2:30 pm for 11 weeks, it starts on February 14, 2003. Each class consists of a video of John teaching and then class facilitated discussion on how to increase your ability to communicate and connect with others. Here’s a short sample from the first lesson on Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation.

Here’s the first step to learning how to connect with people, not just communicate to them.

Continuing Education, Innovation and Training

I’m sure everyone has known someone who was a climber instead of a connector. It might have been you at one time, or even now.Fotolia_42312841_XS

Climbers have their eye on the next level and what it will take to get there, connectors focus on helping others be successful, which in turn makes them successful.

Why is that?

As John talks about in this chapter, leadership is relational as much as positional. I would have to say that leadership is more relational, position only gives you authority, relations give you respect.

John outlines the difference between climbers and connectors. What kind are you?

  • Climbers Think Vertical – Connectors Think Horizontal
    • Vertical thinking leaders consider their peers as competition instead of collaboration
  • Climbers Focus on Position – Connectors Focus on Relationships
    • Leaders who focus on position consider relationships with employees as a possible detriment
  • Climbers Seek Power – Connectors Seek Partnerships
    • Power seeking leaders hide weaknesses with hopes of becoming successful instead of seeking partners to fill in their weaknesses
  • Climbers Build Their Image – Connectors Build Consensus
    • Leaders who focus on building their reputation will take the credit for the work but not the mistakes
  • Climbers Want to Stand Apart – Connectors Want to Stand Together
    • Climbers push people off the hill instead of helping others climb it

I hope this list helps you reflect on what type of leader you are. Awareness is the first step to change and John lists five qualities that can assist you in connecting with others better:

  1. Appreciation allows you to see the differences in people and considers them not only interesting, but also important.
  2. Sensitivity to others feelings and being able to quickly adjusts to the moods of others.
  3. Consistency in always being “real,” not phony, it shows who you really are, be authentic.
  4. Security with yourself so that you don’t have to be the “top dog.”
  5. Humor to be able to laughs at yourself.

In order to really connect with people you need to go where they are. Leaders go first, so it’s important to walk slowly through the halls. By doing this people will see that you put others ahead of yourself and your own agenda. It allows them to see you as a human being and it helps you as a leader, put the spotlight on others.

What can you start doing today to become a better connector?

An excellent book is John’s “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,” you can find it on the Resources page.