Are You Connecting?

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

4. Look for common ground. Probably my favorite leadership expert is John Maxwell. I agree with John when he says, “Anytime you want to connect with another person, start where both of you agree. And that means finding common ground.” There are lots of potential areas of common ground, ranging from personal interests to life experiences to values and beliefs. The key to finding common ground: Listening.

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.

Wes Friesen is the manager of Billing, Credit and Special Attention Operations for Portland General Electric. He manages CIS billing, specialized billing, electronic bills and payments, credit and collections and OPUC and special attention operations. Wes and the PGE print and mail team have earned many national awards, such as the IPMA Management Award, four NAPL Gold Awards and numerous PCC awards. Wes received the Franklin Award in 2010 for his contributions to the mail industry. For the past 27 years Wes has been a university instructor and a speaker at conferences. He has written numerous articles for trade journals. Wes earned a B.S. in Business Administration from George Fox University and an MBA from the University of Portland. He can be contacted at: Wes.Friesen@PGN.com

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