It’s almost humorous how attached we are to our smart phones. In fact, psychologists have coined the term nomophobic (no-mobile phone phobia) for those who have a fear of being without their phones. Oddly, with all this attachment, it’s easy to feel detached when it comes to connecting with those who matter most to us. Whether we are engaging with customers, clients, friends or family, there is always room for improvement in relating well with others. How do we increase engagement and understanding? What are the tools to help us introduce real and meaningful conversations between us? Here are seven positive keys to strengthen the connectedness within your business, your community and your personal life.
1. Perception – Body language and tone of voice can say more than you may think. Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication and found that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words. 38% is communicated through vocal elements like voice tone and inflection, and 55% are communicated through nonverbal elements such as body language. That means that 93% is non-verbal! In a culture that connects through texts and emails, a vast majority of our message is being missed. There are two takeaways that I think are elementary here. First we must recognize the power of our non-verbal cues when we are talking with someone whether over the phone or face to face. Secondly, if we want to understand others or be understood, the most effective communication is done in person.
2. Presence – Focus on the person you are in conversation with at the time. Be there. Be present through eye contact, body language and interaction. There are times when we must say to ourselves, “I’m not going to look at texts right now or think about all the other things I need to do. I’m going to listen and concentrate on the person who is talking with me right now. I’m going to see them and hear them.”
3. Power – Recognize the power of your words. Words have the ability to build up, or to destroy. They have the power to open up conversation or shut it down. Let’s use the power of our words for good; to inspire and encourage rather than to complain or argue. Our words have the ability to build bridges, yet in the heat of emotions often they become destructive. Let’s determine to use the power of our words for positive and proactive purposes, and never to tear down another person.
4. Perspective – Get to know the other person’s story. Often when we look beyond the façade, we find that there is a reason someone is acting in a particular way. What is their story? What have they been through in life? What have they experienced that is much different than our own experience? Each of us have different backgrounds and personality types, and so we view our circumstances in different ways. When we take the time to consider the other person’s viewpoint, we often build a connectedness and understanding, rather than condemnation and judgement.
5. Potential – No matter who we encounter, we must first see that person as a creation of God, and therefore as a person with value and worth. More than that, we must recognize that he or she has certain unique gifts, talents and abilities. I like to say that everyone is a treasure, and it is our job to do a treasure hunt to bring out the gems hidden within his or her heart. We can choose to see each person through the eyes of hope, recognizing their potential and seeing them as a gift to this world.
6. Practice – Connectedness doesn’t just happen. We must be willing to intentionally engage with others. We encounter people all the time, but how often do we stop to really see them, hear them and understand their story? When my husband was in the hospital, we came to know the nurses by asking about their lives and their families. We encouraged them and cared about them and listened to their story. They commented that coming into our room was like a breath of fresh air, because most patients were demanding and didn’t really see them as people. Practice connecting as you go through your day with the variety of people in your path.
7. Personal – The more balanced you are in life, the more positive your relationships tend to be. We have all been in those conversations with people who simply talk about themselves the entire time. It makes it tough to build a connection when the conversation is simply one-sided. Or what about someone who is consumed with anger or hatred or criticism? If we are to connect well with others, we must first consider our own emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Happy people are more likely to have healthy communication. Examine your life and consider if there are some changes or growth that needs to take place in yourself. Find your source of strength and comfort from God.
There is a deep need within each of us to be heard and understood. My hope is that these seven keys will spur you on to develop and deepen the relationships in your life, whether with family, friends or business associates. For the next several weeks I will expound on each key with stories, illustrations and practical applications. I hope you will join me. Let’s build bridges of connection together.
Click Here for more info on Karol’s new book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women.