how to make a connection with someone you care about

How to make a genuine connection with someone you care about

Communications, Leadership

How to make a genuine connection with someone you care about

A while back I wrote a post about, “how to make a genuine connection with someone you care about” on LinkedIn.  The original title was, “The Next Two Questions.”  However, after re-reading it and putting my own advice into practice even more I have decided to revisit it and call it what it really is, this is an article about connecting with the people we care about.

I have developed a program to teach a skillset called, “Inter-Cultural Skills and Leadership (ICSL).”  Primarily, the workshop is conducted in a 3-day format, but I have conducted it in several different session lengths that range from 2 to 24-hours.

The workshops always strive to attain four outcomes:

  • Strengthen continuity of character & personality
  • Improve inter-cultural confidence
  • Develop transformative leadership skills
  • Improve communication, facilitation, and presentation skills

I am constantly looking for a way to boil the material down to deliver as much as possible in the shortest amount of time to help people lead and build relationships.  So, if I only had a few minutes with a client or small group, how could I help them work toward the four outcomes listed above as quickly as possible?

I have boiled it down to two basic questions.

But first let me explain…

These two questions represent the simplified nexus of three different ICSL modules; “Elephants and Riders,” “The Point of Authenticity” and “Intersecting Moments.

  • Elephants and Riders refer to the two agents of our mind.  The rider represents the conscious, cognitive agent who is capable of complex thought and training the elephant.  The elephant is the stronger and less controllable agent.  Together, the team navigates us through our day and ultimately our life’s events.  Neither of them could do it alone and both are responsible for the preparation and safety of the other.  Throughout our workshops I will often remind students which agent we are communicating with.    
  • Point of Authenticity (POA) is the summation of our character and personality at its sharpest point.  Our POA is who we are when no one is looking.  In a moment of stress or panic when our unconscious mind takes over our POA is reflection of how well we have trained ourselves to make decisions.  It is our most authentic and true self. 
  • Intersecting moments can be descried as that moment in time when two people interact with each other.  For some relationships the intersection may look like a merger with a great deal of contact time (spouses, children, best friends, co-workers, and team mates).  Other intersections are passing once-in-a-lifetime encounters and account for just a few seconds or minutes of our lives.     

1. How are you?

Practice saying that question silently a few times.  Each time place the emphasis on a different word and notice how the inflection changes.  How would it sound if you were to say, “No.  Really, how are you?”  Many of us ask this question as a matter of course throughout our day as a fancy way of saying hi, never expecting to hear the full story.  Each person we come in contact with during our dozens or even hundreds of intersecting moments per day are in a different position in life.

Now let me ask you… How are you?  Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs consider where you are in this moment in time.  Are your physiological needs being met?  At this moment in time are you safe and secure?  How would you characterize your relationships, are they fulfilling and balanced?  How confident are you? Are you achieving your goals?  Is your conscious clear and able to make tough moral decisions?

Of course not everyone will share all of the intimate details of their lives with you when you ask.  But when you look a person in the eyes and speak directly to their elephant they know they’ve been seen and they feel valued.  As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

2. What do you want?

Seriously… what do you want?  What do you really want?  Even in our own minds we pay lip service to this simple question and for any number of reasons don’t pay due diligence to answering it.  But, when we stop and think about it, the question has real value.

We are the main character of our own story.  When discussing this in a workshop I draw a three-segmented line on a white board.  Each segment represents 30-years.  I then ask the audience where are they?  I then place a triangle (the POA) on the line to represent this moment in time.  It’s easy to recall for most of us the details of what happened to the left of this moment.  But what happens to the right?   Now, imagine a line intersecting with yours right here in this moment.  The line may represent your child’s, a co-worker, a friend, your elderly parent, a customer, or a stranger.  Each of you has an undetermined amount of line to the right of this moment.  If you are to make a difference in their life, take an extra second to ask, “what do you really want?”

I believe when we truly commit to understanding the answers to these two questions, when we have developed an environment where people can share their answers candidly without embarrassment or fear of reprisal then we have created a place where it is truly possible to figure out how to make a genuine connection with someone you care about.