Have you ever heard someone ask a version of this question: Why do I frequently fail to connect? Why do I struggle to create a genuine, authentic, honest-to-goodness connection? It feels so elusive! You and I both know that 1,000 Facebook friends or 10,000 Twitter followers will not equate to a single, solitary, authentic connection. Hopefully, you can count an authentic connection or two in that mix, but the majority aren’t meaningful relationships.
I blow it in this area too when I forget a few key principles. They are important and like all important things, we need to be reminded of them. You must repeat important messages. In some cases you have to repeat an important message nine times before the listeners grasp or comprehend how it applies to them.
These might sound like things you already know. I’m asking you to treat it like you never heard it before and lean in to figure out how to apply it and allow it to make a difference in your life.
Too Much Interest In You
First, you have too much interest in you and not enough interest in others. Unfortunately, you can’t hide this fact. No matter how hard you try, when all you think about it is you, you will find yourself unable to hear what the other person is saying because you are preparing your brilliant response. We’ve all been there. We are all guilty. It’s important to bring incremental improvement. You won’t always do it right, but acknowledging you lack in this area and committing to improve is progress.
Reverse the order. You start by expressing interest in them. In your arsenal of tools to create connection, you pull out…you guessed it: questions. You ask genuine, sincere, heartfelt questions. Then you shutup…agght…hey…no….stop it! Your job now is simply to listen. Can you repeat or paraphrase back to them exactly what you have heard? This skill is immensely valuable.
Go listen to Episode 76 Authentic Relationships As The Bases For EPIC Conversations and Episode 77 The Question You Should Never Ask When Meeting Someone New for some great ideas about the kind of questions you can use to stimulate powerful conversations. It’s easy to use these questions and not feel like you are struggling to keep a conversation going.
You Are Serving Not Selling
The second reason you fail to connect is that you forget that you are serving and not selling. Yes, I know. If you aren’t selling, you aren’t generating revenue. We all know the number one cause of business failure: lack of cash flow.
I didn’t say that you shouldn’t sell – my point is you have no basis for the sale because you fail to connect first. When you think about who your audience is, who is the person, not an automaton, the living, breathing, emotional, reasoning, thinking, flesh and blood individual that you are talking to? Do you understand her well enough to be able to communicate her need?
Have you thought about that need, about the emotions and pain behind that need, to the degree that you can you can express for him how he feels each time he is confronted with that need?
Is your desire rooted in your own need for dollars? Do you feel a need to improve their condition?
Are you lying awake at night thinking about how to eliminate that pain from her life? Can you say that your satisfaction in seeing that pain eliminated, that result obtained, exceeds your desire for compensation? If you are serving first, they will see it and feel it. Your attempt to connect is not an attempt to sell. It’s to start a genuine conversation and understand how you can help him.
You Fail To Empathize With Others
Yes, you are the expert in all things; thus, you have little regard for dissenting views. You are dismissive of how someone else feels because any logical person would not feel that way when understanding your viewpoint. You are so certain of your view, your position, your expertise, that it is near impossible to validate feelings to the contrary of your experience.
And it’s destroying your ability to connect with anyone who doesn’t see it the same way. Everyone else is an idiot. Crazy. Lunatic. A fool if they don’t see it your way.
Empathy is the simple act of putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to understand the topic from their perspective.
Let me give you an example. Please, I know you are likely active while listening to this podcast. But what I’m about to share will revolutionize your ability, your capability in this area.
Focus on what I’m about to tell you. No amount of rational, logical, well-meaning, even loving explanation of the facts as you understand them will magically remove what has been imprinted on another person’s heart. Let me say this again: no amount of rational, logical, well-meaning, even loving explanation of the facts will magically remove the message imprinted on another person’s heart.
My Mom, Diane Slemons (love you Mom!) sent me an email many years ago. Karen Sparks wrote the message. Karen is not talking about business. She’s not talking about networking. Karen is talking about children. Specifically, children, they have adopted. Some of these children were orphaned, others abandoned, and all suffering tragic neglect during critical years of development.
If you don’t remember anything else from this podcast, remember this:
What They Believe Is True Is Infinitely More Important To Them Than What Is Real
Think about that. The people you are interacting with, your need for empathy, is in part due to this fact that supersedes all of your most amazing data: what they believe is true is infinitely more important to them than what is real. Karen says this:
There is a belief they hold that colors life for them and that is this, I have to look out for myself because no one else has. No one is to be trusted. I’m on my own.
For example, no matter how full the pantry is they are convinced there is not enough to eat, and the fact that they’ve been told that it’s not time to eat yet only confirms the fear to them that they will not eat. No matter how consistent you’ve been at providing three meals a day in your home, there is still one thousand questions a day regarding meal time and what will be served and if there will be seconds.
Learning how the orphan thinks has given me a radically new understanding of how humanity responds to God and why the gospel has been so misunderstood. An alienated mind only has a certain way of seeing things and therefor is left with few options as to response.
She goes on to say this:
In my home, I’ve realized that it can never be up to the child to change their responses but it must be up to the parent to prove their faithfulness. A neglected child only knows neglect, until they know something different. It’s up to the new parent to show them love and consistency so they can learn trust and therefore learn new responses.
You Are The One With Something To Prove
It’s powerful and moving to me to think that even as adults, we want to know that someone cares about us. I want to know you are not going to simply use me. In fact, I want to know your concern about my well being extends beyond my pocketbook.
Is this resonating with you?
You don’t change someone’s mind with facts, figures, spreadsheets, and presentations. Trying to overwhelm their doubts, their concerns, with stats doesn’t work.
Demonstrate first that you hear them. That you understand their questions. Any person who has been in their position would absolutely be wondering the same thing. Then you go about demonstrating your track record of faithfulness in this area that demonstrates I care about you. Effectively, you are saying “You are worth caring about.”
Even if you don’t buy my product or service or even simply don’t buy what I’m saying to you right now, I’m not changing. I’ll be expressing this same care to you, this same concern and compassion for where you’ve been, and this desire for you to get where you want to go. With or without me.
I’m going to be faithful to my sincere care for you and my desire to serve you. Faithful to serve my team. Faithful to serve my customer. You will find me to be authentic and committed to my vision, mission, and values. I will serve you with solutions that reduce and eliminate your pain. Isn’t that a noble purpose? Isn’t making life better a grand goal? It’s attainable.
It starts with authentic connection.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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