Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: 4 Pointers towards Becoming a Better Connector


In the book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell has five chapters devoted to principles of connecting, and five chapters devoted to practices of connecting.   I have spent five weeks on the first five chapters covering those principles, and today I start on the second part of the book, with the practices. The first practice of connecting is in the sixth chapter, and it is “Connectors Connect on Common Ground”.

After discussing on what the various barriers are to finding common ground with others, and suggesting various qualities that connectors have, John Maxwell in the last section of his chapter discusses four pointers towards improving your ability to connect, no matter how good or how ineffectively you connect at the present time.

These four pointers take the common theme of “Connectors Go First”, meaning that you have to take the initiative and make the connection first in order for you to become more effective at connecting.

1.  Ask “Do I Feel What You Feel?” BEFORE Asking, “Do You Feel What I Feel?”

You cannot drag people on a journey, you have to connect with them and lead them to where you want to go, so that they do so of their own volition.   Why would somebody want to go where somebody else tells them to go?   Because that person took the time to describe that destination in such a way that the others WANT to go there.

Before they want to go there, however, you have to find out where they are NOW.   And this involves understanding their feelings, and connecting with them on an emotional level.

2.  Ask “Do I See What You See?” BEFORE Asking, “Do You See What I See?”

Many leaders think, if others could see the future the way I see it, then we could move forward.    However, that would only be possible if others are standing in the spot you are standing.   What does that future look like from where they are standing?    Would they be even able to see if from their vantage point?    Are there obstacles in their way to seeing it?    Is there debris on the ground that would prevent them from getting from where they are now to that future you are imagining?    The more you ask yourself these questions, the better you will be able to let people you understand the magnitude of the journey you are asking them to go on, a journey which is made easier by the fact that they are not going to be going alone, but with you along the way.

3.  Ask “Do I Know What You Know?” BEFORE Asking, “Do You Know What I Know?”

If you are trying to resolve a conflict between two people, you must ask each of them what the situation is from their viewpoint; the order of who goes first to tell the story doesn’t really matter.   But if that conflict of the other person is with you, you must FIRST ask them what the situation is from their viewpoint before you tell your side of the story.   Often times, you will be able to locate the source of the conflict in a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what you have said, rather than a conflict of personalities (although that is certainly a possibility as well).

If you are just having a conversation, remember what Abraham Lincoln said, where he said one-third of his mind is thinking about himself and what he is going to say, but two-thirds are devoted to thinking about the other person and what he is going to say.”    You cannot just rehearse your next response, because it might change depending on what the person is now saying.    So don’t stay in your own head, but enter that of the person you are talking to, and the communication will turn into a connection.

4.  Ask “Do I Know What You Want?” BEFORE Asking, “Do You Know What I Want?”

You can know a lot about a subject and not really understand it.    If you explain it to someone, and they don’t understand it and ask questions, this gives you a chance to try another way of explaining it so that they will.   I owe the readership of this blog on the subject of project management because the posts came out of a series of study groups I did for people studying to pass the certification exam for becoming a project manager.    I love math, so in explaining questions about earned value management, I would naturally write equations.   I found out soon that not everybody shares my love of mathematics, so I had to draw diagrams for those who preferred learning visually and I told stories for those who preferred learning aurally.    By approaching a subject with different learning styles in mind, I found that most of the people in the study group would understand what I was saying on any given topic.   It was an example of not giving them what I wanted, but my giving them what they wanted.

In the last and final post for this chapter, I will discuss three key questions that John Maxwell says give the maximum amount of insight into a person’s character in the shortest amount of time.    Use these if you are on the express train to being a connector!

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