“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” – John C. Maxwell
This article was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2019.
How good are your communication skills?
Do you communicate or do you connect?
Connecting and communicating may often be used synonymously. The truth is while we can all communicate, it doesn’t mean we are successfully connecting.
You can communicate with your voice, hands, eyes, and body language and get your message across. But while your words may be heard loud and clear, do people feel the emotions behind them?
Has your attempt to communicate fostered a deeper, more meaningful relationship? Did you connect?
Connecting goes beyond your words. In fact, often, our verbal and nonverbal messages are inconsistent, particularly when we say one thing but our heart feels something else.
To really connect with people, we need to think beyond our words and also communicate our feelings and attitudes. Here are 4 critical components to really connecting successfully:
1. Verbal Connection
Our words have a powerful impact—people respond to the words we use and the tone of our voice. People can recognize emotions from the way you speak – from your volume to your timing.
The way you deliver your message can either drive people away or draw them in. If you want to connect with people verbally, be mindful of your choice of words and the manner by which you deliver them.
Pro tip: often just slowing down and letting your words sink in will increase the impact of your message.
2. Visual Connection
Before you even open your mouth to speak, people have already formed a visual impression of you. How you look, dress, and behave are all factors to how they will accept what you have to say.
Give them a visual of someone uninterested, disconnected, or distracted, and you’ll quickly lose that connection. What people see us do can far outweigh any words we actually say.
Pro tip: clear your agenda before entering critical conversations. A few moments to breath, relax and image the results you want will make a big difference to what happens next.
3. Intellectual Connection
If you want a genuine intellectual connection, “faking it until you make it” doesn’t work. Before you can engage on an intellectual level, you’ll need to know your subject and yourself.
Don’t attempt to pretend you’ve lived a life you haven’t lived. Don’t insult the person you are trying to connect with by pretending that their personal experiences can be so easily mimicked.
Pro tip: big words don’t make you smarter. Often speaking in simple language and using more common words will build more trust and connection.
4. Emotional Connection
Your attitude speaks volumes and will show more than your words could ever be heard.
How you act has the power to draw people in or alienate them entirely. You could be reciting sonnets and poetry, but if your body language is abrasive, you’ll lose any hope of maintaining a meaningful connection.
Pro tip: if there is an elephant in the room – let it out. Speaking openly about any resistance or doubts can help build trust and openness.
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