5 Keys to Making True Connections
Do you ever wonder why some people seem to move forward in their careers while you seem stuck? Why no one seems to think your great idea will work? Does it seem as if no one's listening to what you say? Maybe they're not -- because you aren't really connecting when you communicate.
We can all talk, but the question is, how can you make your words matter and influence any outcome? How can you really connect with others? Connecting increases your influence in every situation, and these five keys will help you to confidently connect with many people in your life.
1. Establish common ground
This may seem like a simple concept, but if you're lacking a connection with someone, a great place to start is to establish common ground. Don't make the mistake of assuming things about people based on a judgment. This is the time to really understand who they are.
This is also an important time to be extremely interested and not come off as arrogant or uninterested. I've found that when I'm interested in connecting with someone, I make the effort to be somewhat vulnerable and share something. What are some things that you have in common? Trust me, I know that there are some people that we have absolutely nothing in common with on the surface. One thing I remind myself of often is that at the end of the day, we all want to be happy in our lives. We don't wake up each day with the intent to walk around miserable and unhappy. If you know anyone like that, you should run away fast. Ain't nobody got time for that. Worst-case scenario, there's always a reality TV show you can reference.
2. Keep it simple
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone talks to me like they are superior to me. Have you ever had anyone talk "down" to you, like their stuff doesn't stink? That's exactly what we don't want to do if we're trying to connect with people.
Keeping it simple also means that you're getting to the point. It's very easy to lose a connection with someone if you're rambling on and running off of the common ground that's been established. Can you think of anyone you know who tends to repeat themselves while they talk? I have a few people who come to mind, but the good news is that I actually remember what they've said.
It's usually pretty clear what they're hoping to accomplish by sharing their thoughts, as well. If you're trying to inspire, educate or grow someone through an experience you have been through (which is usually the case), be sure to not to bombard them with too much information. I've noticed these days that some people just say way too much. To make a stronger connection with someone, keep it short, sweet and to the point.
3. Create an experience
We all love to be entertained, right? Conversations with others should be somewhat entertaining, too. I love making people smile, even if we're having a serious conversation. It's important to capture their attention from the start so that you're both engaging in the conversation. I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of tuning someone out within 10 seconds because I had absolutely no interest in what they were talking about, but it's important to communicate in their world. Remember, making connections is all about others. It's not about you, boo. If there's anything at all you want to make sure your audience takes away from a conversation, be sure to center that focus and communicate in a way that will stick with them. If you've already established common ground, this should be easy to do.
4. Inspire others
This isn't easy for most, but one of the best ways to inspire others is to be authentically you. For a few years, I struggled with balancing who I thought I was supposed to be on the job vs. who I was at home. In recent years, I've become so much more authentic at work by choosing to be myself. You may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's OK. Save that tea for people who are gonna like it, and don't waste your time trying to impress others who you feel you need to be fake around. When you are authentically you, people may not always remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. One of the best ways to ensure that people leave feeling happy and remember how you made them feel is to express gratitude. Thank them for what they do with sincerity. Of all the virtues, gratitude is probably the most neglected and least expressed.
5. Demonstrate credibility
This can be a bit difficult for some people to do without sounding arrogant, but it is possible. Think of your credibility as your currency as you're communicating with someone. Is what you're saying coming from an authentic place? Are you walking the walk and talking the talk? The worst thing you could do is appear to be a hypocrite in front of someone.
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An example I love to use here is when you're talking to someone who's smoking a cigarette and they're trying to give you advice on health. Umm... they're clearly not walking the walk. All they're doing is talking, and have zero credibility in my book.
The greatest connectors walk the walk, talk the talk and live what they communicate. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell says in his book that "as time goes by, the way people live outweighs the words they use." Lead like you live, and be accountable for your actions. In the smoking example, I'd have more respect for them if there was a bit of accountability and acknowledgement that perhaps they have a bit of work to do on their own, instead of trying to preach to someone while being a hypocrite. Creditability will take you far. Boldly be you!
Now, I would love to hear from you. Which connection key stands out to you most, and why? Then, tell me how you can implement this key into your life today.
(By Brittanni Below. Brittanni is a passionate woman and business advocate with a background in HR, corporate relationship management and fitness. Brittanni is also an emerging coach, trainer and speaker dedicated to helping women with realistic and effective goal setting in their career, life and relationships.)