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.

  1. One-upping blocks connecting.
  2. Need to compete slows the process of relationship building.
  3. Out-doing creates distance.

Always honor:

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:

  1. “How long have you been CEO?” Or…
  2. “That sounds like a challenging job. What are some of your biggest challenges?” Or …
  3. “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.”

Your team:

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?