I’m reading the latest John C. Maxwell book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Early on in the book he admits that in his formative pastor years, he failed to connect with people due to his own self-interests of just waiting for people to finish their thoughts and wanting to immediately solve problems. I can certainly relate to this aspect, as I learned during my junior high and early high school times that being smart and being helpful are two distinct qualities.
We have such a short time on this earth, I spend more time going for connection. I agree with Zig Ziglar when he states in many of his seminars, “If you will first help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” I’m thankful for the fact that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a distinct reason- to spend twice as much time listening as we do talking.
How else do you really expect to get to know others? You certainly can’t get to know the other person’s likes, dislikes, interests, habits, hobbies, etc. by merely talking about yourself all the time. If you are in a long term relationship, give yourself a night where you spend all of your time getting to know your significant other better. Play an impromptu version of 20 questions- become the reporter and really take the time to engage in the art of listening and learning about your partner.
I don’t feel like I have to connect with people merely based on my own personal interests. I’ve learned so much about the world when I interview bands and find out about their personal background, their culture, their country, their upbringing, and their world views. I step outside of myself and attempt to plug into what I believe a current fan would want to know about, and hope in the process that they’ll gain new followers based on their interests and answers.
The people who’ve made the deepest connection with me took the time to develop a relationship. It didn’t happen overnight- you connect based on a series of consistent interactions: by phone, by text, by e-mail, by face to face experiences. What I feel very blessed about is I can go back to that relationship even if it’s a year or two later and still feel like we picked up as if very little time has passed.
Not everyone can connect quickly or easily. It does take practice and experience. But trust me, I’d rather have two or three close relationships than hundreds of acquaintances who I can barely remember their last names as soon as the conversation slips away.
Go for connection. Write that long lost thank you letter. Congratulate that family member for the special award they won. Recognize that co-worker in front of the group for the great job they did or the idea they contributed to make the project successful. Give that friend a pick up call and express appreciation and gratitude for all they bring to your life. Make a special trip to see that friend in person.
Ask your friends for tips and advice on how they make connecting so easy. Be willing to learn. Good luck on the journey and feel free to tell me about your experiences.