Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Becoming a Connector is a Process

In the fifth chapter of his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell describes his fifth principle for connecting, namely, that connecting is more a learned skill than a natural talent.

In the final segment of the chapter, John Maxwell has some final reflections on this principle in the section he calls “Becoming a Connecting Communicator is a Process”.

John Maxwell opens up with an anecdote about his early days when he was studying for the ministry in college, and he was NOT a stellar speaker at the time.   In fact, far from it:   his goal for his first sermon was that he wanted to speak for more than three minutes.    He overshot the mark by more than a little bit:   he spoke for fifty-five minutes.    As he said, his audience was not captivated, they were held captive.    He concludes this anecdote by the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All great speakers were bad speakers first.”

This is true in other art forms as well.    When Chuck Jones, the famous cartoonist, when to art school, his teacher said, “everyone has at least 10,000 bad drawings in them first.    Practice drawing every day so you can these bad drawings out of the way and go onto the good stuff!”    Chuck Jones practiced diligently, and did just that.   By the time he was hired by a cartoonist for Warner Brothers, he had done so many drawings that the bad ones had “gone out of his system.”

Even if you are not studying communications formally in school, you should become a student of communications anyway.    Don’t study just theory, but listen to a number of speakers, and see which ones you feel are effective and which are not so effective.   Start evaluating what is was that made the effective speakers effective and copy their techniques.   However, you need to make them your own so that you are borrowing only that which fits within your own communication style and your personality.    And remember the old joke about the guy who asked someone in New York how to get to Carnegie Hall.    The answer:   PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

This chapter’s principle is in effect a combination of good news and bad news.   The good news is that anyone can become better at communications.   The bad news is you have to be willing to work for it.   But if you have the right attitude, you can turn that bad news into good news.    If you are passionate about your subject and you have the burning desire to improve, then as Noel Coward once said, “work is more fun than fun”!


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