How to Send Signals that Enable Connection
Imagine you just met Wilma at a party. You’re shaking hands when she says, “I’m Wilma. I’m the CEO of Widgets Across America.”
Choose to build trust rather than create distance.
Connect or compete:
You chose to connect or compete when someone VOLUNTEERS a bit of personal information.
Compete with Wilma by saying, “I’m Barney. I’m the owner of Widgets Across the World.”
Wow! Aren’t you special? Congratulations! You just put Wilma in her place.
- One-upping blocks connecting.
- Need to compete slows the process of relationship building.
- Out-doing creates distance.
Honor people EVERYTIME they volunteer information about their career, position, skills, or accomplishments.
Connect with Wilma by saying, “I’m Barney. Congratulations on leading your company. What does your company produce?” Follow that with:
- “How long have you been CEO?” Or…
- “That sounds like a challenging job. What are some of your biggest challenges?” Or …
- “What does it take to be CEO of Widgets Across America?”
Suppose Betty says, “I just ran my first 5K race.” She’s not telling you this so you can make her feel small.
If you want to connect say, “Congratulations Betty! That’s a great accomplishment.”
It doesn’t matter if you run 5K races every weekend.
Don’t say, “I run 5K races with one hand tied behind my back and texting with the other.”
People in your organization volunteer information about themselves everyday. Respect and honor them.
“Oh! You’re coaching a Little League Team this year. It must feel good to give back to the community.”
“Wow! You just finished your training program. Way to go!” (Don’t say you finished the same program five years ago.)
Tidbits of personal information are opportunities to connect.
How might leaders strengthen connection with team members?
What character qualities enable leaders to create and strengthen connection with others?
This is one of those topics which seems intuitive yet it is still a big issue. At the worst, I think this also can be a symptom of the arrogance discussion you posted earlier. On the lighter side, this is a good reminder for all of us to think about connections before responding.
In a busy world where time is precious listening can be challenging for leadership. Listening with positive body language such as good eye contact can create the feeling of being listen to and being appreciated without saying much.
Thanks for putting this together, Dan. Sometimes in my excitement of catching up with someone, I can blurt out all my news and forget to follow up on those first few words someone shares. I am consciously trying to work on this. What I am noticing is that when I ask people how they are, they don’t ask me back. Now, for me personally with my health problems, perhaps they feel awkward but I’ve noticed it with my husband, kids etc and whenever I’m in a shop and someone asks me how I am, I always ask them back and they appreciate it. On the weekend, my husband and I were touring a museum and were th only ones with the guide and it was just automatic to introduce ourselves. She told me that I was reading her mind, and that rarely happens.
I have been thinking quite a lot lately about the impact of people across all generations being so focused on their screens, and particularly not getting a lot of eye contact. I thought you might find this interesting: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/making-eye-contact-at-the-art-gallery-of-nsw-sydney/
This reminds me of the time I was driving with my boss and passed a worker holding a road sign for a construction project. He stated he wished he had that job because it seemed easy and unstressful. I pointed out that job came with the risk of being hit by a car, getting yelled at by impatient drivers, and standing in inclement weather. Each time someone tells you what they do they give you an opportunity to look outside yourself. We should take those opportunities more often.
I really enjoy reading your blog!
Thank you for this reminder Dan and the suggestions for how to put it into action.
Great advice that I am going to work harder at!
I get the same vibes that Rowena gets. Too many people are not reciprocating. They just continue along without being mutually attentive.