Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Requires Selflessness


The fourth chapter of John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect covers the fourth prinpiple of connecting, namely, that connecting requires energy.    Each of the five sections of this chapter deals with one of the five ways in which this energy is embodied in the process of connecting.    This fourth section of the chapter is concerned with the fourth way, mainly that Connecting Requires Selflessness … So Give!

1.   Giving Requires Faith in Yourself

Being a giver requires energy, and if you concentrate on giving energy to others, where are you going to get the energy in the first place?   Part of that energy comes from passion for your subject, and part of it comes from compassion for those in the audience.   You also have to have compassion for yourself and supply yourself with the resources you need in order to give to others … getting plenty of rest before a presentation, working out the details surrounding the presentation so you don’t have to worry on the day you have to give it, and in general making it as easy on yourself as possible.    Some people when they are outside of their comfort zone try to become comfortable by controlling as many of the variables surrounding the presentation.   This is possible to a certain extent, but you can never prepare for all contingencies :    you may be faced with a situation where you have to “wing it”.    This is where you have to have faith in your own abilities to cope with situations.    But as you begin to develop a “track record” of having done so, you begin to have faith based on the experience of your having dealt with it in the past.

2.  Giving Requires an Ego-Bypass Operation

You’ve heard of a “heart-bypass operation”, correct?    Well, in order to give to others, you need to undergo an “ego-bypass” operation.    This is not dangerous, in fact, it is a life-affirming process.   It means displacing your needs, insecurities, immaturities, and other self-centered states of mind, and entering a mental space where you are there to serve the audience to whom you are going to give your presentation.   You are not there to show how clever you are, or how much you know, especially if that requires demonstrating that you know more than the audience.    You don’t need to know more than the audience; that is a given, based on the fact that you are probably an expert in the area.  You, you just need to have the audience know more than they did when they sat down to hear you.

3.  Giving Requires Presence

If people are giving a speech solely for ulterior motives, they are going to be doing it with that selfish end in mind.   As the German psychologist Karlfried Graf-Durkheim once said, “if you are on a journey and the end seems to be getting away from you the closer you get to it, at some point you realize that the end is the journey.”    Your end should be to take the audience on a journey.    If you are giving the speech for the first time or the hundredth time, you can bring a sense of presence to the speech that makes the audience feel that they are experiencing it for the first time, because, of course, they are.    Connection always begins with a commitment to the audience:  actively listen to their reaction, actively engage them with eye contact, actively gesture towards them, and they will enter the moment with you.

The next post deals with the fifth way of using energy to connect, namely, Connecting Requires Stamina, so Recharge!

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