I am always fascinated by how people like to present themselves. From the casual conversation on an airplane to a more robust conversation in the office, people will often go out of their way to try and impress others. If you are trying to impress, you are most likely NOT connecting. It’s easy to communicate; it is something much different to connect.
Over the years, I have learned that people generally care about three things: themselves, their victories, and their struggles. This includes you. If you are trying to impress by talking about yourself, your victories, and your struggles, then you are not talking about things the other person cares about.
Paying Value to Others
Author and speaker Denis Waitley once said, “The greatest communication skill is paying value to others.” People want to be valued in their work and for who they are. One obstacle to doing this on a regular basis is when we pay too much attention to our value, not theirs.
If you would like to increase engagement with the team you lead or the with the people in your circle of influence (work, family, and community) I recommend the following:
One of the people I coach commented that he had a great conversation with the CEO of his company. “He just walked up and started a conversation! I’ve never worked for a senior leader who did that!” he told me. Don’t wait for others to engage you. Be friendly, smile, start a conversation. If you have a title (Vice President of this or Director of that), realize that your title often enters the room before you do. Develop the habit of not leaning on your title and instead focus on others and the value they bring.
Ask great questions
The easiest way to stay away from talking about yourself is to ask great questions. Develop your curiosity about others and what makes them tick. If you are a senior leader in your organization, many people will engage you by asking questions about you. When they do, answer politely and then quickly move the focus from you to them by asking questions about them. Once, at a company event, a person on my team told my wife that I was a fantastic communicator. When she asked me later what I did, I told her I merely asked questions, and the other person did all the talking. You appear to be a great communicator when the other person feels valued and seen.
Take a genuine interest in others
When you talk with people, picture yourself getting the opportunity to introduce them to a large audience. Base your questions on uncovering who they are and what value they bring to the group. This is a great way to practice the leader skill of curiosity. I genuinely want to know what motivates and energizes others. If I can learn what you value and what drives you, I have a much better chance to fully engage you in the work we are doing together.
Be a good listener
The fastest way to show value to another human being is to listen to them. Whether it is a child, a spouse, or a teammate, truly listening is the key to winning them as a friend and communicating how much you value them. Good listeners can ignore distractions or the temptation to interrupt. They ask great questions to show that they are listening and trying to understand fully.
Listen more than you talk
In general, the more you are talking, the less value you are showing to the other person. If you are genuinely interested in them, this will not be difficult to do.
Employee engagement is a leadership issue. If you can connect with others and show that you value them, you will be amazed at how people will buy-in to you and the work you are doing together.
As a leader in your organization, invest in intentionally building a leadership culture that includes a focus on increasing employee engagement. The 5 Levels of Leadership Private Workshop lays the groundwork with straightforward, fundamental principles to foster authentic communication and a common language. Speak with one of our Sr. Director of Leadership Development about bringing the 5 Levels of Leadership to your leadership team in a virtual or onsite environment.
About Perry Holley
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.