Are You Connecting?
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 manages multiple departments for an electrical utility based in the Northwest. His teams have earned numerous awards including NAPL Gold awards. Wes also teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at a variety of national conferences. Wes has just written a book called Your Team Can Soar! which contains 42 valuable lessons to help you lead and develop high performing teams. Books can be ordered from his personal website (wesfriesen.com) or via the following link: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781498460866 Contact Wes at firstname.lastname@example.org.