I’m writing this blog in Washington Dulles airport while I’m waiting for my flight home and I’m watching people (including myself!) ‘connecting’ to their world via electronic devices and it makes me wonder if we’re failing to connect with real people as much as we could and should.
Even in an office environment it’s tempting to communicate with others through technology more than we connect with them in person. Of course, technology increases our efficiency, saves time, reduces the potential for error in giving instructions and ensures that several people can be kept ‘in the loop’ – so it’s by no means a bad thing. However, when it comes down to interpersonal communication there’s nothing like connecting with people in a more human way.
Do you know someone who always makes you feel that what you have to say is important and that they really want to listen to it? It’s probably someone you would approach if something goes wrong and you need some advice or encouragement. It doesn’t have to be your manager, but it does have to be someone you feel ‘connected’ to.
Connecting with people is an important skill to develop, so where do we start if we realise that we’re so caught up with what we’re doing that we’re forgetting that we should be working on our relationships with colleagues, customers or contacts?
- Be genuinely interested in people – remembering details from previous conversations with them and following up whenever you can.
- Communicate your interest by giving people your full attention when you’re talking to them – maintaining good eye contact, asking relevant questions and listening actively is a great start.
- Be vulnerable – willing to share something of yourself with others and admitting your mistakes.
- Keep in touch – making a phone call, sending an e-mail or taking time to talk to your colleagues will build the rapport you have with them.
These are just a few of the many ways of connecting with people that will improve the atmosphere in our workplaces, encourage people to do business with us and feel able to refer us to their own connections.