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Are You Connecting?

Building deeper connections with people will enhance your influence and help you have a greater impact.

February 2014 By Wes Friesen
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5. Be a good listener. Rachel Naomi Remen advises, "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention … A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words." I like the practical advice from Dale Carnegie (author of the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People) who said, "You can make more friends in two weeks by becoming a good listener than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you."

6. Recognize and respect differences. While we should be looking to find common ground with others, we also need to acknowledge that we're all different. Our differences and diversity make our lives more interesting and can strengthen our team performance as we blend our diverse backgrounds and abilities together to make us stronger.

7. Share common experiences. To really connect well with others, we need to find a way to cement the relationship. Joseph Newton said, "People are lonely (disconnected) because they build walls instead of bridges." To build bridges that connect you to people in a lasting way, share common experiences with them. Share meals. Go to a ball game or other events together. Take people to meetings with you. Participate in work projects together. Anything you experience together helps create a common history and build connection.

8. Get out of your office. There are increasing expectations on managers to produce more results with the same or fewer resources—and that can drive us into our offices to get our personal work done. But we need to intentionally carve out times to practice MBWA (Management by Walking Around). I have to admit that I'm not as consistent in getting out of my office and touching base with people as I would like. How are you doing?

9. Be a giver. Provide help and share knowledge and resources. Commit to being a servant leader who gives of oneself to help meet the needs of others. We can give of our time, knowledge and resources to help people around us. Giving of ourselves is the ultimate win-win that benefits both the receiver and the giver. Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." Anne Frank reminded us that "no one has ever become poor by giving."

10. Once connected, move forward. There is value in building deeper connections with people just for the relationship's sake. But there is even more value when we use our connections with people to add value to our team's key stakeholders (investors, customers and employees) and drive towards a better future. Someone once said, "Leadership is cultivating in people today a future willingness on their part to follow you into something new for the sake of something great." Connection helps create that willingness.

Building deeper connections with people will enhance your influence and help you have a greater impact. How will you use your greater impact? Jackie Robinson's quote resonates with me: "A life isn't significant except for its impact on other lives."

I wish you the best as you pursue deeper connections with people and add even more value to the lives of those around you.






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