Do you feel like you struggle with growing your relationships? Do you feel like people value who you are? Is it hard for you to truly connect with others? In society today, it is easy to be focused on ourselves. When we develop this trait of being self-centered, we begin to deteriorate our relationships with those we care about. This can have harmful impacts on our workplace, our families, our social lives, and the communities we value and appreciate. I know that I have had multiple instances where I recognized that I had been too focused on developing myself and failed at not working on the development of my relationships with others. It’s very easy to get sucked into our busy schedules and forget about those that matter to us. What I found is that when we shift our thinking from ourselves to others, great things can happen. I want to share with you the 5 essential practices that I have used to go past merely communicating with others, but truly connecting with those I surround myself with. Practice these 5 essentials to connect and you will see your relationships grow deeper, become more authentic, and your leadership will dramatically increase:
1. Build Common Ground
Looking at your current relationships, what are some of the reasons you have built a firm foundation? It was most likely due to common interests, experiences, or beliefs that you had with that person. Maybe you have the same hobbies, work in the same company, or live in the same area. Or perhaps you have the same religion, politics, or outlook on life. Whatever it may be, we naturally gravitate towards those who share common ground with us. We want to feel understood. We want to know that people truly “get” us. When communicating with others, are you actively seeking to establish common ground? In what ways can you develop that common connection? Build common ground….you fill find that we aren’t so different after all.
2. Serve Others
In our culture, we often believe that the world revolves around us. We think, “how is this going to benefit me?” What if we shifted our thinking to, “how will this benefit others?” When our words and actions exemplify a giving spirit, we show that we value others. Once people feel valued, they will then begin to realize that you care. In the words of John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
3. Take in Multiple Perspectives
We are all different people and live different lives. Since we are all different, we all have different ways of looking at the world. It is easy to shame others because they do not think like us, but what if we respect others by listening and fully understanding their point of view? I found that this gives us the opportunity to learn, grow, and provides an alternative path to solving problems. There will always be a group of people that have more collective knowledge than one person will ever know. There is an incredible opportunity to learn from those you surround yourself with. What is one way you can start learning from others?
4. Keep it Simple
Communication can easily get confusing when we all come from different walks of life. There may be a particular field of knowledge that you are well versed in that others have no familiarity with. When we communicate complex ideas, we can easily get lost in what the communicator is trying to help us understand. When we communicate in a way that is simple and easy to understand, we reduce barriers to understanding. If you want to connect, make sure to keep it simple.
5. Be Present
Do you get frustrated when you see someone answer a text or phone call when you are sharing your vulnerabilities with them? It does not feel good, does it? When we give our full attention to others in body, mind, and spirit, then we begin to show that they matter to us. When communicating with others, be fully present. Show them that you value them, and they will begin to value you.
This is your time to start taking action and develop the meaningful relationships you want, you desire, and what we all most desperately need. Give yourself to others, and others will give themselves to you. We are not all that different; it just takes a little effort to meet others where they are to show them that they are valued. What level of leadership do you want to rise to? Build common ground, serve others, take in multiple perspectives, keep it simple, and be present! You are valued and you are going to do great things!
Carl currently resides in Wichita, KS where he coaches and consults businesses, community groups, and individuals with Exemplify.