If you want friends, show yourself friendly. If you want to connect with others, become the kind of person others want to connect with. Be the kind of communicator that you would like to hear. “Connectors,” says John Maxwell, “create an experience everyone enjoys.”
A big part of being an interesting person, is being interested in other people; making them feel interesting. You’ll be amazed how interesting you become to them.
In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Maxwell recommends seven things to make yourself more interesting. They were presented in the context of speaking to audiences, but as you will see, they have application to one-on-one communication as well.
- Take Responsibility for Your Listeners. It is our responsibility to make our communication enjoyable. It is our job to add value to others. Ask “What can I do to involve others and draw them into the conversation?” He reminds us, “Creating positive, memorable experiences does more to connect families than just about anything else.”
- Communicate In Their World. “If you want to get your message across, you have to learn how to communicate in someone else’s world…. Too often speakers are unwilling or unable to get out of their own world and say things from the perspective of their listeners.” You have to learn to connect what you want to say to what others’ needs are. “People don’t remember what we think is important; they remember what they think is important.”
- Capture People’s Attention from the Start. People make quick judgments about us all the time. As Sonya Hamlin suggests in How to Talk So People Listen, “from the moment when others first meet us, they are consciously or unconsciously evaluating us and deciding whether to keep listening or simply dismiss us. She says, If we’re not captured by something in those first moments, it’s ‘Excuse me, I see a friend,’ and off they go.” If it’s all about us and our opinion, it’s more likely that they’ll look for the friend.
- Activate Your Audience. Communicate energy and passion.
- Say It So It Sticks. “If you want people to remember what you say, you need to say the right thing at the right moment in the right way.” Timing is important. Find common ground and say things in an interesting way. Pause. “Connecting with people is a two-way street. It is a dialogue, not a monologue.”
- Be Visual. Paint vivid pictures in people’s minds. “Anything that can help people visually helps them to connect.”
- Tell Stories. “Perhaps the most effective way to capture people’s interest and make the experience enjoyable when you talk, is to include stories….We use stories to make sense of our experience. And when we share them, we help people understand us, themselves, and their world.”
“There’s different ways that you can measure people’s greatness. And the way I like to measure greatness is: How many people do you affect? In your time on earth, how many people can you affect? How many people can you make want to be better? Or how many people can you inspire to want to do what you do?”
—Will Smith, Vanity Fair, July 1999
John Maxwell asks, “In the end, what good is our communication if its impact ends the moment we stop speaking?”