To Communicate Effectively, First Make a Connection
I had the opportunity recently to attend a communications workshop in our hometown of Indiana, based on a book by best-selling author and speaker John C. Maxwell. It was right up my alley, if you look at my bio! Offered through the chamber of commerce, Rhonda Parkhurst, an executive director for the John Maxwell Team, guided us through ways we can all communicate more effectively – but with a caveat. You cannot do that, she said, unless you first connect with people.
Here are some key takeaways from the workshop:
- Effective communication starts with the ability to connect with fellow employees, our boss, even our significant other. Applying these principles can strengthen both professional and personal relationships, Rhonda said.
- Put others first. Even though it’s counter to human nature, we can’t connect with people unless we can relate to them and look at things from their point of view. "It's not about you," Rhonda stressed.
- The ability to connect with others begins with understanding the value of people. A professor once ended an exam by asking the name of the cleaning lady. No one got it correct. His point? Even though the students had seen her numerous times, no one had taken the time to make a connection with her by simply asking her name.
- This one’s easier said than done for most people: Do more listening than talking. Simply being available, asking questions and actively listening helps you find common ground.
- If possible, get to know something about people before meeting with them. One marketing leader who was fortunate enough to get a 10-minute sit-down with renowned financial investor Warren Buffett discovered through research that his favorite drink is Cherry Coke. She brought him one, and Buffett was so impressed, he granted her an hour and a half!
These tips appear to be even more relevant now, says Mark Hilliard, president of the chamber of commerce. He said a number of local business leaders have told him it appears that during the COVID-19 pandemic, “people have forgotten how to communicate.” And now that people are settling back into the office after working from home, tensions seem to be running higher than ever. “These are big issues,” he said.