I had a great experience the other day when I took the time to make a connection with a person. It was a very rewarding experience that left us both feeling better about the encounter and in general ourselves. I know that may sound a little strange coming from someone in my position who also believes in the power of social media. Those of you who know me know that I believe there is a lot of positive things about social media. It helps us reach untold numbers of people and reconnect with those from our past, but think about it; how long has it been since you actually took the time to meaningfully connect face to face? That was what made me write this post. A combination of reading Leadership: Step by Step by Joshua Spodek and the success of my new strategy of taking time to connect. More time than a Facebook comment, tweet, or post.
Stop Talking and Listen
No one has ever made a meaningful connection by talking about themselves. It sounds easier than it is in this world of sharing. One of the worst things you can do is insert yourself into someone’s conversation about who they are as a person. Their story is just that; theirs. Give someone else the attention. We often rush to talk about ourselves and explain that we understand them by comparing our experiences to others. Take a different tact. Listen to what they are saying, make a connection to another person in your life, and use that to build the conversation.
Compare What You Hear to Other People You Know
When you make the connection to another person in your life, it does a couple things for the conversation. First, it keeps you out of it. Second, it allows you to ask some questions based on an understanding of someone else’s experience while honoring the uniqueness of the person with whom you are speaking. You most likely have a connection with the person you comparing the story to and as a result, know the explanation for their belief. This is where the unique part enters. Instead of saying “I understand”, say “I know someone who”. Then explain why your connection believes the way they do. Make sure you conclude with a question close to: Is that why you think that?
Ask Questions for Clarification
You will realize something very soon after you have asked that question; you are wrong. Now embrace it. Ask questions about that person, what they are interested in, and most importantly; why. I’m not saying you should interrogate someone, but everyone likes to talk about themselves. If you ask questions with a genuine interest in the answers, there is no way you will not begin to connect with that person.
I want you to take the time to make a connection with one person who is in your life, but not someone you know well. Making a connection is fairly easy, but you have to concentrate. Here is the thing…it can’t be about you. It’s about the other person. You can’t judge what they are sharing. You just have to listen and accept that this is who they are…and enjoy the uniqueness of it.
This takes practice, but anything worth doing does.
- if you want a less generalized step by step way to do this, check out Leadership: Step by Step by Joshua Spodek.
- if you need proof of the power of this…I recently sat with a student for over an hour (it seemed like 15 minutes to both of us) making a connection. At the end of the time, I stood to shake his hand and said; “It was nice getting to know you.” He replied; “It was nice getting to know myself.”
Connect, reflect, and grow…be that person for others.
Add to the discussion:
- How are you making those meaningful connections that last?
- What works for you?
- How are you moving forward?