Connecting with others
Connecting with others

Your ability to work with people will make or break you. As President John F. Kennedy famously wrote in Profiles in Courage: “The way to get along,” I was told when I entered Congress, “is to go along.” The key to getting along is learning to ‘connect’ with people.

“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” – Dr. John Maxwell.  


WANTS…What’s motivating to them?

To ‘connect’ with someone, discover what they want. What do they desire?  What motivates them?

Psychologists say that deep down all people have certain desires in common.  For example, I believe that, universally, people want TRUTH not MYTH.  People want RIGHT not WRONG.  They want PLEASURE not PAIN, EASIER not HARDER, to be FIRST not LAST.  They desire ABUNDANCE not SCARCITY, SECURITY not ANXIETY, RESPECT not DISRESPECT, to be INCLUDED not EXCLUDED.  You get the picture!  As you discover what others around you really want, remember what Zig Ziglar said, “You can get anything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” 

OPINIONS…What’s true to them?

Four words leaders must learn to say are, “What do you think?”.  To ask another person their opinion is to build a bridge from your world to theirs.  As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

RELATIONSHIPS…Who’s important to them?

Pay attention to the people who surround the individual you’re connecting with.  Who are this person’s closest friends, family members, co-workers? These close relationships form this person’s relational home-base.  As Brian Zahnd says,“Your true self is calm, content, wise and unafraid.  But your true self may be buried under tons of rubble accumulated from the false self.”  By connecting, Leaders get behind the false self to the true self of others.

LABORS…What’s worth the effort to them?

When meeting someone for the first time, one of the first questions I usually ask or hear is, “So, what do you do for a living?”  I think what a person does for a living says something about them.  What type of job do they have? How long have they done it?  Do they like it?  What skills does it require from them?  To me, as a leader, these questions may appear on the surface mundane, but far from boring, they actually reveal a great deal about the inner-life of someone I’m seeking to connect with.  We learn about each other when we learn about one another’s work.

DREAMS…What’s ‘the promised land’ to them?

Just as in the Old Testament of the Hebrew scriptures, God gave the Israelites a destination worth heading toward called the Promised Land, I believe every person also needs ‘a promised land’ of their own; a desirable picture of a bright future toward which all of their aspirations and efforts are moving.  Leadership expert John Maxwell offers 6 ideas when connecting with the dreams of others:

  1. Ask them to share their dream with you.
  2. Affirm the person as well as the dream.
  3. Ask about the challenges they must overcome to reach their dream.
  4. Offer your assistance.
  5. Revisit their dream with them on a consistent basis.
  6. Determine daily to be a dream booster, not a dream buster.

These 5 areas can help you connect with the W.O.R.L.D others live in!


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