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Hauser: Communicating and connecting will take you further

You will never go any further in life or leadership than your ability to connect and communicate with others. For all of us this includes one-on-one communication. For many it includes communicating to a small group. For some this also means the dreaded, frightening public speaking. Effective communication is key to the effective outcomes of almost every initiative: marriage, parenting, customer service, relationships, construction projects, growing organizations and winning teams.

Connecting is essential to effective communication. John Maxwell says, "Everyone communicates, few connect." Communicating and connecting are similar, with overlap, but are also uniquely different.

Communicating is more about listening than it is about talking. Connecting is more about understanding than it is about talking or listening. My step-dad, Larry, once was pulling a trailer. He turned left but the trailer kept going straight. In his rear-view mirror he saw his trailer hop a curb, coming to a stop just before hitting a garage. What happened? The trailer disconnected from the truck hitch. In life, we are in dangerous territory when we become disconnected from our creator, from ourselves, and from others.

James wrote in the Bible, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." When we become angry we are now disconnected. Proverbs 18:2 says, "Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." Perhaps this is one of the great dangers of social media...acting like a fool.

Communication is about the message. Connecting is about the relationship. The relationship may have a very broad range; from intimate to distant, peaceful to hostile, trusting to suspicious; but connecting takes the status of the relationship into mind before communicating and when evaluating progress.

A speaker says, "Here is my subject and my message. You sit down and listen whether you want to or not." A connector says, "Before I speak on my subject, I will do my best to find out who you are and where you are at."

Communication is always a means not an end. The end to communication is a healthier marriage, more effective team member, your child making healthier choices, a friend saying "Yes!" to Christ. Connecting is also a means not an end, but genuine connection always results in positive organizational characteristics: people going the extra mile, an increase in appreciation, trust, joy, positivity, synergy, love and acceptance.

Could it be that some of the challenges in our families, churches, schools and work settings are the result of a connection problem; we are communicating but not connecting? What is possible if we, as leaders, were committed to making authentic, healthy connections a greater priority in the organizations and relationships that are most important to us?

Next Sunday I am excited to share with you the four questions every person following you is asking you. These questions hold the key to connecting with others.

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