Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Principles (3)


I joined a Mastermind group which is taking the book by the leadership guru John C. Maxwell called “Everyone Communicates Few Connect” and going through the book one chapter a week.    The first part of the book consists of 5 chapters on Connecting Principles, and the second part of the book consists of 5 chapters on Connecting Practices.

I am going to cover each chapter with one blog post, taking notes based on my reading of the chapter.    Rather than simply a summary of each chapter, I hope these notes will provide my own interpretation of the material, especially regarding the ways it applies to the various facets of my life where I am applying leadership (in church, in Toastmasters, as a project manager).    I hope to relate my experiences learning foreign languages and working in foreign countries to the subject of communication.

PART I:   CONNECTING PRINCIPLES

Chapter 1–Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation

The first two posts dealt with a) the importance of connecting and b) the journey that John Maxwell made on his way towards becoming an expert at communication.   This post shows how you can make the same journey.

1.   Connecting Starts with Your Attitude

When people start to learn how to communicate, they typically focus on themselves.    Am I doing this right?    That insecurity goes away with confidence and practice, but some people remain focused on themselves.    However, to become a connector rather than a communicator, you need to change your focus to others and to recognize the value of people.

When I was leading a study group for the Project Management Professional exam prep course, I concentrated on myself.    Did I understand the material well enough to present it to the others in the group?     When the questions came from various people, I would get frustrated.    Why didn’t you understand my explanation?   What’s wrong with you?     Then I started to change my focus from myself to those people who were asking the question.    The question showed not where they were deficient in understanding my explanation, but rather where my explanation was deficient.    You see, I’ve always been strong in mathematics.    It makes sense for me to explain things using equations, because that’s a language I readily understand.   But you realize that not all people have the same strengths, and so when you explain a concept using mathematics to a person for whom that is not their strong point, then you are working to your strengths, not theirs.    You are not connecting.   So I would go back and try to explain the point using stories, using images, using other methods which were not necessarily my first preference, but methods I was willing to try to utilize to get the point across.   More and more, I had success in explaining the concepts to people who didn’t understand them before.    I was connecting, and now when I do a technical speech in Toastmasters, I make sure to use a variety of communication techniques so that all members of the audience will get something out of it.

2.   The Achievement Connection

According to Jay Hall of the consulting firm Teleometrics, there is a correlation between achievement and the ability to care for and connect with people.

HIGH ACHIEVERS AVERAGE ACHIEVERS LOW ACHIEVERS
Care about People as Well as Profits Concentrate on Production Are Preoccupied with Their Own Security
View Subordinates Optimistically Focus More on Their Own Status Show a Basic Distrust of Subordinates
Seek Advice from Those Under Them Are Reluctant to Seek Advice from Those Under Them Don’t Seek Advice
Listen Well to Everyone Listen Only to Superiors Avoid Communication and Rely on Policy Manuals

3.  Connecting Principles, Connecting Practices

The next four chapters deal with the remaining connecting principles, namely

  • Focus on others
  • Expanding your connecting vocabulary beyond just words
  • Marshalling your energy for connecting
  • Gaining insight in how great connectors connect

The next five chapters deal with the practical skills of communication, namely

  • Finding common ground
  • Making your communication simple
  • Capturing people’s interest
  • Inspiring them
  • Being authentic

I look forward to the next few weeks working on these chapters.   I belong to a Mastermind group that discusses each chapter once a week on a Thursday evening; I consider these blog posts another form of working with the material and I hope it deepens my mastery of the material.   My only hope is that it will inspire the readers of the blog to look at John Maxwell’s book and make the material their own, and maybe even to join a Mastermind group of their own!

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