How many of you would say you're good at communicating with others? Do you think that you could be better about making true connections with people? Say yes... :)
I have a feeling that reading this blog is going to be a valuable use of your time as I share 5 tips on how to make better connections with the people in your life whether at home, work, or in your personal relationships.
When I was just 7 years old, I remember sitting in class getting ready for lunch. Shortly before we were dismissed, of the little boys in my class walked over and told me that I was stupid. Naturally, I wondered why in the world he would say that to me for what seemed to be no good reason, so I asked "why do you think that?" to which he replied, "you're stupid because you have a white mom and a black dad." I was absolutely crushed, but I grew up with 4 brothers and knew that crying was a sign of weakness. So, I fought back the tears and shouted, "well, if I'm so stupid, tell me why I'm on the honor roll and you're not?!" He was speechless. I walked to lunch and realized that day that I no matter what I did, I was going to prove that the color of my skin, or the parents that I have weren't going to define my abilities in this world.
In hindsight, it was clear that this boy and I just wouldn't ever be able to really connect. We lacked a HUGE element of what it takes to truly connect with someone which takes me to my first tip -- common ground.
Establish Common Ground
In order to connect with someone, you must establish common ground. Common ground is the point where everyone’s needs, beliefs and values intersect. It's difficult to find common ground with others when the only person you're focused on is yourself. As I deliver this speech, I am really hoping to connect with you all, so there is not much room here for me to worry too much about myself, although that is much easier said than done. I love how David Hoyt says in his blog post for JohnMaxwell.com that in the realm of leadership, one way to connect with others and find common ground is by leading them according to their unique values. Discovering what those are is essential. We all have a unique set of values and we see the world through the lens of those values. As we know, one person’s values can vary drastically from another’s.
Now, it may seem a bit difficult to ensure that your needs, beliefs, and values intersect with someone else, so I'd encourage you not to overthink this. Which brings me to my next tip - keep it simple.
Keep It Simple
Think about someone you have a great connection with. It's pretty simple to connect with them right? You likely have similar beliefs and values, but even if you don't, respecting someone for their beliefs and values is also a great way to connect. There are some people in this world that we just won't ever be able to connect with. I wouldn't have ever been able to share the beliefs and values of someone who judged me based on the color of my parent's skin.
As William H. Ratstetter says, "The first time you say something, it's heard. The second time, it's recognized, and the third time, it's learned." Although you want to get the point, you have to ensure that you're also not boring... which brings me to the next tip - create an experience.
Create An Experience
It is so easy for us to be distracted these days. From our own thoughts, to the dings and pings on our cell phones... catching someone's attention must be done QUICK. This means that in conversations, we must be interesting. If you're trying to connect with someone, it's so important not to fall victim to cemetery communication - where you know there are people out there, but nobody is listening.
People don't remember what we think is important; they remember what they think is important. I once shared an interesting story about an experience I had with someone who was stalking and somewhat harassing me on social media through fake accounts, and just because of the drama to unfold in that story, it immediately hooked them. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll share that story with you during an upcoming speech.
The point here is that sharing experiences and stories that people are interested in, or can capture their interest, will create a much stronger connection than sharing a story with someone who really isn't interested or can't relate to what you're sharing. Sharing stories, as we have seen, are a great way to create experiences for people and in some cases, inspire them.
This isn't easy for most, but one of the best ways to inspire others is to be authentically you. For a few years, I struggled with balancing who I thought I was supposed to be on the job vs. who I was at home. In recent years, I've become so much more authentic at work by choosing to be myself. You may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's OK. Save that tea for people who are gonna like it, and don't waste your time trying to impress others who you feel you need to be fake around.; When you are authentically you, people may not always remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. One of the best ways to ensure that people leave feeling happy and remember how you made them feel is to express gratitude. Thank them for what they do with sincerity. Of all the virtues, gratitude is probably the most neglected and least expressed.
The greatest connectors walk the walk, talk the talk, and live what they communicate. John Maxwell says that "As time goes by, the way people live outweighs the words they use." It was really hard for me to connect with people when I first started working in corporate because I wasn't living authentically. I was trying to separate who I was at work and who who I was at home so I wasn't walking the walk or talking the talk. I first had to really connect with myself.
As you go through the rest of your week, I challenge you to use one or 2 of these tips to connect better with someone in your life. Be authentically you and be interested in what others can teach you. We can learn lessons from anyone we meet. Even the little 7-year old boy who I could not connect with.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. What from this blog post really resonated with you, and what have you learned that you can implement or practice changing this week? Leave your thoughts below directly in the comments.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.