There are a million business books and every now and then I find one that resonates … this is one of those! It would be easy to be put off by Maxwell’s assertion that it is effective communication, really connecting with people, that is the secret to success. In my experience I would suggest that effective communication is ONE of the key factors to success. However I do agree this is a very important topic and Maxwell has some very effective messages.
One key message is that this is a skill like any other and so it can be learned, and also like any skill practice will bring improvement. It is also a skill that is as important with friends and family as it is in business.
Some ideas from the book:
- You need to know when you have “connected” with people … its not always evident. So some of the things to look for are:
- Extra effort. People go the extra mile for you.
- Unsolicited appreciation. They say nice stuff!
- Unguarded openness. They demonstrate trust.
- Increased communication. They open up.
- Enjoyable experiences. They clearly feel good.
- Emotionally bonded. A deeper connection is evident.
- Positive energy. You and they get energy together.
- Growing synergy. Together you are more effective than individually.
- Unconditional love. OK!
- Connecting is all about others! It should be all about them. You will want to answer, in some way the three questions they will have:
- Do you care for me?
- Can you help me/
- Can I trust you?
- Connecting goes beyond words. According to a UCLA study what we say only accounts for 7% of what is believed by our audience. The way we say it accounts for 38% and what others see accounts for 55%. So you need to connect on four different levels:
- What people see … connect visually. Are you dressed appropriately, are you what they expect?
- What people understand … connect intellectually. You need to be empathetic to their situation, understand their pain and be able to talk from that same place.
- What people feel … connecting emotionally. People will feel your attitude, your energy … positive or negative. “The exact words you use are less important that the energy, intensity and conviction with which you use tem”.
- What people hear … connecting verbally. The words are important, as is the tome, inflection pace etc. you want your audience to really hear your message … whether an audience of one or a larger group.
- Here are some suggestions from Maxwell about how you can improve your skills in this area. If you can get your head around these “life rules” you will be a long way to becoming a great communicator …
- I will choose to spend time wit others.
- I will LISTEN my way to common ground.
- I will be interested enough in others to ask questions.
- I will think of others and look for ways to thank them.
- I will let people into my life.
- I will care about people.
- I will think of myself less so I can think of others more.
- I will move from my world to theirs.
- Some ideas on keeping communication simple …
- Talk to people, not above them
- Get to the point.
- Repeat your point .. several times.
- Say it clearly.
- Say less.
- Some thoughts on creating a good communication experience … of particular interest if presenting to a group.
- Take responsibility for your listeners.
- Communicate in their world.
- Capture their attention from the start.
- Activate your audience.
- Say it so it sticks.
- Be visual.
- Tell stories.
For me the lessons of this book are applicable when trying to improve networking skills, when talking with clients and co-workers … and can easily be translated into home life too. Overall one of the better business books I have almost read … as I have mentioned many time before, I subscribe to Executive Book Summaries from Soundview. I find their 8 page book summaries to be an excellent way to learn from a lot of business book with a limited amount of reading time invested.
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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