5 Best Practices of Connecting

connectionI’ve been telling you about Amy, her exciting new job and her desire to get a great start on building strong relationships with her new boss, peers and team members.

In Building Relationships When It Matters Most, I shared the impact of communication blind spots and the importance of understanding the different styles of communication.  In Part 2, we looked at the 5 Key Principles of Connecting that form a basis for building practices for effective communications with others.

Here are 5 Best Practices for Connecting that helped Amy establish better relationships with new colleagues right from the start:

  1. Finding Common Ground. When you are able to meet someone in a place that is known by and comfortable to her, you are off to a good start.  It creates a foundation from which to build.  This requires taking an interest in others, asking questions, listening and observing. (If you want some ideas on how to do this, download my Tip Sheet: 10 Questions to Find Common Ground
  2. Keeping it simple. As an effective communicator, your job is to bring clarity to your message, not complexity. After all, none other than Leonardo Da Vinci taught us that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Learn how to get to the point and that less is often more.
  3. Think of the experience you are creating. Are you energetic, engaging and interesting when you communicate? Or, are you serious, boring or unsure of yourself? Think of the impression people will walk away with after your conversation.
  4. Be inspiring. This starts with being inspired and motivated yourself. Remember that your passion is contagious – and so is the lack of it.  You need to decide how you want people to feel after your interaction and build that into your level of energy.
  5. Always be authentic. Your credibility depends on establishing consistency among the things you say, the things you do and the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behavior you convey as a role model.  This is not always easy, though when you make it your intention and your practice, it will become your habit.

As for Amy, she is off to a great start.  And, she realizes that, like all of us, she’s a work in progress.  Her commitment to improvement has conveyed to others that she is committed to building strong relationships.  It has also propelled her to do better and be better as a communicator and connector.

If you would like to learn more about building better relationships by communicating and connecting more effectively, join me for my upcoming webinar Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.

And, if you have particular challenges that you would like me to address, just comment below or send me an email.  I love to hear from my readers!

#relationships #connecting #communications #influence


5 Key Principles of Connecting

piecesofthepuzzleIn my last post, Building Relationships When It Matters Most, I introduced Amy, who was starting a new job and wanted to be more effective in building relationships with her boss, team and co-workers.

From our meetings, Amy learned how her communications style was working for her in some cases and against her at other times.  This new awareness enabled her to adapt and adjust her style to fit the situation and to create more effective interactions with each of the people who were important to her success.

Learning the Key Principles of Connecting also helped Amy build her leadership ability and credibility.  Let’s review them here:

  1. Connecting increases your influence in every situation. And, since influence is the currency of leadership, the ability to connect with others and to communicate effectively is a major determining factor in your success and in reaching your potential.
  2. Connecting is all about others and not about you. In order to make an initial connection, you need to focus on where they are coming from and how they prefer to interact, then adjust your approach to match it.
  3. Connecting goes beyond words. You need to understand and appreciate all the components of effective communications.  Did you realize, for instance, that more than 90% of the impression you convey has nothing to do with what you actually say?
  4. Connecting requires energy & effort. You have to be intentional and deliberate; it needs to be a priority.  You have to be committed, prepared, interesting and interested.
  5. Connecting is more skill than natural talent. Yes, there are people who seem to be born connectors.  And, it is a skill that can be taught and it can be learned.  And, it’s one that worth developing over time; you can always be better.

 For Amy, knowing these principles enabled her to develop some simple practices that made building her skill in this area a natural flow in her daily interactions with others.

In Part 3 of this series, I will share those practices.  If you’d like to learn more about the key principles and best practices of connecting, join my upcoming webinar, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.  This session is jam-packed with practical tips that will help you improve your communication – at work and everywhere else!

#relationships #connecting #communications #influence


Building Relationships When It Matters Most

womenshaking handsAmy had a new job and she was very excited about it.  She knew that it was a big opportunity for her and would propel her career forward in the direction she had always wanted.  She also knew that, in order to be successful in this new role, she would have to build solid relationships with her boss, her peers and her team.

So together, Amy and I created a game plan, which included learning:

  • how relationships begin with a connection
  • what it takes to make a solid connection
  • how to move from connection to rapport
  • what role trust plays in building relationships
  • how different communication styles affect success

Amy was serious about making the most of her time, energy and attention to build relationships, so beginning with the right thought process was essential.

When we explored her personal communication preferences and her typical behavioral style in the workplace, Amy had one of her many “Aha!” moments.  Realizing the unintentional impact of her style on others caused her to reflect on difficult relationships that had contributed to her lack of success in the past.

We all have blind spots like the ones Amy suddenly realized and those blind spots can really prevent success at work—and in life.  Learning about how your blind spots are being perceived by others is a critical component of building solid relationships.

Amy was anxious to improve on her ability to connect with others and to communicate more effectively at work.  I taught her about the different styles of communication and how she could most effectively interact with people whose styles were different from hers.  Understanding this is essential to building relationships when it matters most, as it did for Amy.

If you would like to learn more about the different styles of communication and how to more effectively interact with others at work—or anywhere, join me for my upcoming webinar, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, during which I will teach the practical tools that I taught Amy that enabled her to build healthy relationships right from the start.

And stay tuned for my next episode in which I will share the 5 Key Principles of Connecting that will help drive your success in building better relationships, just like they helped Amy.

#relationships #connecting #communications #blind spots




When it Comes to Asking Tough Questions, How Well Do You COPE?


Recently I was asked to provide some advice to inexperienced managers about asking “tough questions” to their boss.  Examples included asking for a raise or special consideration, seeking clarification on expectations, getting some feedback or direction about performance and future opportunities—or any other scenario where the stakes seem high and therefore, might cause some anxiety.

They key here is preparation, that is, taking some time to think through the conversation in advance and prepare your mind for the dialogue.  For many years, I was a “wing it” kind of person and I don’t recommend it if the matter is an important one.  As a lover of simple but powerful solutions, I developed a framework that would help people organize their thought process and approach.   I call it the COPE Strategy, where

C=Clarity.  Knowing what you want may seem elementary, but it is amazing how often people go into a situation without “crystal clarity” on what we are after.  More importantly, being clear on the reasons you want what you want will provide an anchor whenever the conversation starts to go sideways.  Understanding your true motivation in making the request will help you appreciate its importance and level of priority as well.  Spending time to gain clarity by thinking through, writing out, and even sharing and practicing it with a trusted advisor ahead of time will provide further preparation, making you more confident when the actual conversation takes place.

O=Outcome.  In framing your thought process, it’s critical to think in terms of the outcome or result or end game.  What are you ultimately after?  How does it fit in to your other priorities?  And what other impact would that result have on the organization, apart from you?  If possible, make that outcome something measurable, so you know when you’ve been successful in achieving it.

P=Perspective.  Be sure to consider how other participants / stakeholders in the conversation will view it; in other words, don’t get caught up in your singular view of the status quo.  When you are able to broaden the lens through which you view the situation, it is easier to position your request with a goal of creating a win/win, increasing your chance for success.  Be sure to think through how the other person is likely to react and “what’s in it for him or her.”  Be prepared with benefits to others and the organization as a whole in what you are proposing.

E=Energy.  Be aware of the energy in the room and deliberate about the quality of the energy you bring to the conversation or interaction.  What image are you projecting?  Are you confident, with a positive attitude or are you nervous and unsure of yourself? Is the other person distracted or engaged?  Be sure to be sensitive if you’re timing is off and reschedule if necessary.

The interesting thing about this simple model is that it can be applied from either side.  If you are the recipient of a request or question that is difficult or challenging, you can:

  • Ask clarifying questions to understand what the person wants and why it’s important;
  • Discuss possible outcomes and alternatives;
  • Offer a different perspective on the problem or issue at hand and
  • Maintain a positive and supportive attitude, even if you can’t resolve the issue to mutual satisfaction.

This methodology has been applied in a variety of situations involving two or more people and it seems to work.  It provides some structure to follow, and helps to keep the discussion on track.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your feedback about how you have used the model and what your experience has been.

#deliberateleader #communications #askingquestions