Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (6)

In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

1.  Summary of Sections 1-5

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In the second section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

In the third section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability to connect with people visually.

1.  Eliminate Personal Distractions

2.  Expand Your Range of Expression

3.  Move with a Sense of Purpose

4.  Maintain an Open Posture

5.  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

In the fourth section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people intellectually and this requires you to know both your subject and yourself, in particular, what your preferred communication style is.   Once you know what your preference, you have to learn how to use all of the other communication styles as well, so that you can cover the preferences of everyone in your audience.

In the fifth section, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people emotionally.

1.  People Hear Your Attitude

The exact choice of words you use is important, but not as important as the energy, intensity and  conviction with which you use them.

2.  Charisma is Attitude, not Personality

John Maxwell thinks that charisma, the presence people have which cause others to be drawn to them, is not a function of one’s personality, but rather of one’s attitude.   People who have this presence are so comfortable with themselves, and have such a positive, unselfish attitude that they are able to focus all of their energy on others.     This is a very hopeful statement, because people think that charisma is just something people are born with, and if you don’t have it now, well, you’re out of luck.   No!   You just need to develop a positive attitude, which everyone can do.

How do you do this?    This is not in John Maxwell’s book, but what helped me to develop a positive attitude was a 21-day program put together by psychologist Shawn Achor.

Watch his TED talk


and then read my summary which describes his program in more detail


The remaining of the post, the sixth section of the third chapter, will talk about how to increase your ability to connect to people visually.

2.  Connecting Verbally–The Power of Words

Of course, the power of words is an extremely important part of connecting with others.    But the power comes not just from the denotation of the word, or the literal meaning, but the connotations of the word, or the words, ideas, and images which are associated with that word.

Other powerful forms of words are quotations which are sayings which have become famous due to their emotional power and verbal resonance.    “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”   If President Kennedy had just said “Ask what you can do for your country”, the basic idea of service would have been stated, but by using the words as he did, where one half is an inverted, mirror-image of the other, you get a resonance which makes the quotation not just powerful, but memorable.

The other thing that makes a word, phrase, or passage memorable is its originality.   What we think of as classic English, namely the language of Shakespeare, is to a large extent his own invention.  He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original, according to http://www.shakespeare-online.    This is why his work is so rich, because of the 800,000+ words used in all of Shakespeare plays and poems, 43.3% of these words were invented by Shakespeare, and of these about half were only used once!    

3.  Connecting Verbally–The Power beyond Words

Words should convey confidence:   confidence in yourself but also confidence you have in the audience.    Ask them to do the action items you give in your speech–dare them to greatness!

The elements that you can to communicate emotions beyond the actual contents of the words you say are:

  • Tone–tone is the emotional element in one’s speech–it is warm, friendly, inviting?
  • Inflection–this can refer to the raising and lowering of the pitch of one’s voice, which can alter its emotional resonance with the audience
  • Timing–is the opening of the speech slow enough to engage the audience’s attention?  And is the closing of the speech done at a slower pace to signal the end of your speech?
  • Volume–does the loudness of your voice vary depending on the emphasis you are making?   Sometimes saying the most important part of a phrase in a soft as opposed to loud voice actually can create emphasis as well, because it forces the audience to listen in and zoom in to what you are saying.
  • Pacing–do you use PAUSES effectively as ways to signal the transition from one point to another?


You need to develop your own style of speaking which connects beyond words; although you can certainly try out certain styles of others on an experimental basis, you cannot make them your own unless they truly fit your own personality, attitude, and experience.

You need to connect

  • visually
  • intellectually
  • emotionally
  • verbally

if you are to create a presentation that truly resonates with people, that is, that connects with them.

Think of the sitar, the Indian musical instrument, which consists of a set of two sets of strings, one of which is flat against the main board or neck of the instrument, and one of which is strung over that first set.   The person playing the instrument ONLY plays the top set of strings.   The strings underneath vibrate in sympathy with the strings that are played, and that is what creates that sing-song, resonating quality that the instrument has.   In a similar way, you must be like the sitar strings that are played in such a way as to create the corresponding strings of the audience to vibrate in sympathy.    In that case, you truly are connecting, and making music together!



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