When you can really connect with other people everything about your business relationships improve – your influence, your productivity, your teamwork. If you struggle to find a way to communicate effectively with people to form strong connections, you will not be able to reach your fullest potential. If you want to succeed at every level, you must learn effective leadership communication skills to enable you to connect with others. What the author John C. Maxwell in his book Everyone communicates Few Connect means by connecting is to be able to relate to people in a way that increases your influence with them. The most successful leaders are always excellent at connecting. When you consider that most things we accomplish are the result of interacting with others, it becomes apparent how important connecting skills become. The following are five leadership communication skills I took away from John Maxwell’s book that anyone can learn to do to improve their ability in the power of connecting:

1) Find a common ground with people – We must start by changing our focus from inward to outward. You will start to improve your skills at finding common ground when you realize connecting is always about the other person. Every individual has a different system for processing information and perceiving the world. When you realize this and strive to understand how the other person experiences the world, you will be surprised at how quickly you will connect. Consider the following strategies to connect by finding common ground:

  • To connect we need to learn more about the other person; to learn we need to listen. Only when we are willing to listen will we be able to uncover common ground.
  • To search for common ground we must start by asking questions. A good place to start is with questions centered around the other person’s needs.
  • To establish our commonness with another person we must also open up our communication about ourselves. To connect always requires both parties to openly share information about one another.
  • To find a common ground means really caring about others; we must care enough to focus on their purpose and accomplishments, raising them up for success and praise. People will not listen to you until they know you care.
  • Finding common ground requires becoming aware of where the other person is and moving yourself into their world. We must adjust to see things from their point of view and then search for an experience in our lives that will help to move them forward. To help you gain a better comprehension to the reason behind ones thinking, ask “why” questions to probe for a deeper understanding.
  • To find common ground we must be able to feel what they feel, see what they see, and  know what they want.

2) Make your communication simple and easy to understand – You connect with people not by what you say but by what they understand. To communicate effectively stick to one main point, express yourself with as few words as possible, and select words that people understand. Your goal is not to convey your knowledge or the complexity of a subject but rather to simplify and communicate with understanding.

3) Be interesting – Remember, what is important to people is what they think, not what you think.  Find a way to connect what you want to say to their needs in their world; talk about them. When you talk, add interest with positive body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and pauses in conversation. Encourage people to interact by asking lots of interesting questions. Strive for telling stories, being funny, friendly, exciting, knowledgeable, confident, inspiring, open, authentic, and informal.

4) Be an inspiration to people – To connect with people at their core being is to inspire them to improve – to do things they never thought they could do. In order to inspire people they first need to know that you care about them, you understand them, and you have high expectations for them. They also must feel your passion for what you are saying, feel your confidence in their ability, and feel your appreciation and gratitude for them as a person. The ultimate inspirational lift is to give people your ideas for an action plan.

5) Be authentic – To successfully connect for the long term we must build trust and confidence. Credibility is built by being authentic. To be authentic you have to first be accepting of yourself; you must hold yourself accountable, speak of what you know and how it makes you feel. You must be truthful, be willing to expose your weaknesses and failures, do what you say, and treat all people the way you would like to be treated.

Improving your leadership communications skills is the key to harnessing the power of connecting.  As you practice and improve at the 5 communication skills outlined here, your ability to relate to people and build meaningful connections will blossom. Your relationships and influence will become stronger.

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