We are more connected than we have ever been through technology advancements and social media, but are we truly connecting?
If there has been one significant change to the way in which people interact over the past decade, it’s social media. The impact of social media has been massive and has brought about such disruptive change, that you might well have missed the full scope of it.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest one on the planet today, smaller only than China and India in terms of population . . . and not smaller by much. It carries more traffic than Google in the United States and almost 50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is Facebook. And, did you know more than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day!
Technology is not a replacement for investing time in developing rich, quality relationships. In fact, the reverse is true. The investment is required more than ever!
The challenge is the skills to really connect with people are becoming a scarce resource.
Here’s 5 ways to guarantee you are not just connected but are truly connecting…
#1 Be present
The best gift you can give someone is the gift of your presence.
I don’t just mean physically been stood or sat in front of them, I mean being truly present physically and mentally – your full self, tuned in.
Think about it for a moment, how many times have you been mid flow in a conversation but your mind has already left and is thinking about the call you need to make or the next meeting you need to attend?
How many times have you sat in a meeting and been asked a question but your mind had gone AWOL and you have no idea where the conversation was at or how to answer?
Or you’ve been at home talking with your family and you’re busy checking your emails whilst you half heartily pitch in to the playful banter.
In these moments, you are there in body but not in mind.
Now I am sure this is never your deliberate intent.
The challenge for all of us is that we are all so busy and have so much to do!
However, we miss the opportunity to give that individual, meeting, group or family member the greatest gift we can give them which is the gift of our 100% presence, right there in the moment with all our senses tuned in.
It’s the old adage in order to gain respect you have to give respect first. And respecting others time by being fully present in the moment is the greatest respect you can give.
#2 Ask yourself, Are you listening?
What I mean is are you REALLY listening?
You may have heard the expression “A winner listens, a loser just waits until it’s his turn to talk’
It is so often true that listening is the most violated of communication skills. Many people hear the words, but don’t get the message, simply because they are just waiting for their turn to talk.
Listening takes concentration and a genuine interest in what the other person is saying…
…The difference between being interesting and interested!
Listening is perhaps one of the singular most important skills to master and perhaps the starting point is understanding the three different kinds of listening.
Where the person listening isn’t really interested in what the other person is saying, or does not have time to listen.
It is complete disengagement by the listener, they’re busy doing other things while supposedly listening: typing an email, playing on their mobile, shuffling papers on their desk…the list goes on!
Whilst the person is not distracted with doing other things, the person is absorbed in their own thoughts and thinking, as opposed to tuning into what the speaker is saying. Their own internal voice is competing with the external voice of the speaker.
They are 100% focused on forming what they are going to say next…completely oblivious to how the speaker’s message might impact their response or communication.
They are more interested in their own line of thinking, might interrupt, or even do that really annoying habit which competitive listeners do…finish off your sentence, so that they can get you out of the way and make their point.
And the final kind of listening…
The key to success as a listener!
When someone is truly listening to what you are saying, completely tuned into the moment and into you. Their eyes are with you, their body language is with you and they appear to be fully immersed and absorbed in what you are saying. They make you feel like you’re the only person in the room.
Their listening is supportive, and as a result, you are confident that you will not be interrupted, you’re confident in delivering your message and you’re confident in getting your key points across in a natural, persuasive style with maximum impact.
#3 Pay attention to the detail
Yes, this is intrinsically linked to #2 but it’s much, much more.
Great Leaders, Communicators, Influencers all have a unique skill and habit of paying attention to the detail, they always remember the small things.
And in a world where the big things make little difference…it’s the LITTLE things which make a BIG difference!
Remembering names, partner and children names, birthdays, anniversaries, hobbies, favourite sports teams – details, details, details. However, it’s the details, the little things which demonstrate you are genuinely interested.
Genuinely interested in getting really connected, genuinely interested in building and developing deep relationships.
#4 Have a REAL conversation
Or more specifically, pick up the telephone!
Yes, this is one of my bugbears so I am going to get on my soap box and have a 30 second rant!
I wish I had a pound for every time I’ve said to a colleague “just pick up the phone and give them a call” only to check back in later and their response was “I’ve sent them an email”.
Seriously. Too many people hide behind technology and specifically email. Why?
In a world which has become really impersonal (and technology plays a big part in this challenge) the personal touch is more important than ever. Picking up the telephone and actually having a conversation is such a simple but powerful way of ensuring you are connecting.
#5 In your conversations be empathetic not sympathetic
What’s the difference?
Empathy is understanding how others feel, and comes from a core of understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling and really experiencing.
Sympathy is feeling sorry for them and can actually be very disempowering for the individual as this perspective tends to place you above the other. On the other hand, coming from an empathetic perspective, you understand what the other is feeling but don’t necessarily go there with them.
To be empathetic is a great skill because it masters the art of understanding whilst still firmly placing the responsibility for getting the help needed in the hands of the person who needs it. You avoid ‘Adult-Child’ type conversations and keep the balance of conversation firmly in ‘Adult-Adult’ mode.
Put yourself in the other’s shoes, but don’t do their walking!
So, a few questions for you…
Are you present in the presence of people?
Are you REALLY listening?
Are you genuinely interested?
Are you engaging in real conversations?
How empathetic are you?
Please share your experiences in the comments box below, I’d love to know.