Seek the Unique

#6  Seek the Unique   When meeting someone for the first time, ask questions to identify something that is both unique and positive about them.  Doing this will make you more likely to remember them and what differentiates them from others.

While teaching a leadership seminar in Boston, a participant from the American Red Cross told me that Elizabeth Dole, the former president of the Red Cross, practiced this and Ms. Dole frequently brought up in conversation what was unique about a person the next time she saw him/her. (This practice reflects the Connection Culture element of Value.)

This is the sixth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

 

Say “Hi” and “Bye”

#5 Say Hi and Bye

When you enter a room and it’s appropriate given the context and number of people present, greet people by name.  When you leave their presence, say goodbye.  Not saying hi and/or bye, runs the risk of giving someone the impression that you are indifferent to them.  (This practice reflects the Connection Culture element of Value.)

This is the fifth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Update: Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks North America and Starbucks International, and I co-authored an article entitled “Leadership Myopia” that appears in the August edition of Leadership Excellence alongside articles by well known leadership experts Gary Hamel, Marshall Goldsmith and Patrick Lencioni.    On October 10, I will give a keynote speech at the Retailing Summit held in Dallas, Texas.  The Retailing Summit is a premiere event for senior leaders in retail.  This year’s conference includes Karen Katz, President and CEO of Nieman Marcus, Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop, Duncan Mac Naughtan, EVP, Chief Merchandising & Marketing Officer for Wal-Mart U.S. and Graham Atkinson, CMO & Chief Experience Officer of Walgreens.

Neuro-Wifi: Power of Mutual Empathy

Happy Girl
#4 Feel Others’ Emotions

Mutual empathy is a powerful connector that is made possible by the mirror-neurons in our brains.  These neurons act like an emotional wifi system.  When we feel the emotions others feel it makes them feel connected to us.   When we feel their positive emotions, it enhances the positive emotions they feel.  When we feel their pain, it diminishes the pain they feel.  If someone expresses emotion, it’s okay, and natural, for you to feel it.

Here are some examples.  A colleague at work does a fantastic job on a project. Be happy for them and take that emotion with you when you go tell them what a great job they did.  When they feel you are happy about their success, it will enhance the joy they feel and create a bond between the two of you.

Here are a couple examples that apply at home.  Your daughter tells you she worked hard, persevered and  received an A in a really hard class.  Feel her joy. Give her a high five, a fist bump, a hug, pick her up and spin her around.  Tell her how awesome she is and how proud you are of her.  It will elevate her joy and  she will feel your love for her.  She will also feel more connected to you, and this, research has shown, will help make her more resilient, more creative, a better problem solver, less likely to drink alcohol or engage in sex during her adolescence.  How’s that for an incentive?   Also, when she pokes her head in your home office or wants to talk while you are reading the newspaper or checking your email, stop what you’re doing, focus on her and listen attentively.  If she is feeling down, try to feel her emotion.  If she senses that you feel what she does, it will make her feel better and connect the two of you even more. How great is that!

This is the fourth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Note: Photo from Flickr

Attention is Oxygen for Relationships

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#2 Be Present in Conversations

It’s been said that attention is oxygen for relationships. When interacting with people, be present in conversations. Get in the habit of staying focused on them and giving them your full attention. Be engaged and curious by asking questions and then asking follow-up questions to clarify. Listen carefully to words and observe facial expressions and body cues. Don’t check your smart phone, don’t look at your watch, don’t look around the room or let your mind wander.

French Hero of the American Revolution

LafayetteVersallis

Since today is Bastille Day, I’m posting the chapter from Fired Up or Burned Out entitled “French Hero of the American Revolution.”  The subject of the chapter, Lafayette, was a key figure in both the American and French revolutions, and by his action he helped create and sustain Connection Cultures where cultures of dominance or indifference formerly existed.

French Hero of the American Revolution

Visiting historical sites in the state of Virginia, you might be surprised to see recurring tributes to a Frenchman whose name and story remain unknown to most Americans today. At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s hilltop home near Charlottesville, you’ll find a portrait and sculpted bust of the Frenchman. At Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home on the Potomac River, you’ll learn that Washington thought of him as a son, and you will find the key to the Bastille on display, sent by the Frenchman to Washington after he ordered the notorious Paris prison torn down during the French Revolution. Perhaps most surprising of all, in the Hall of Presidents beneath the rotunda of the Virginia capitol where a statue of George Washington and busts of the other seven Virginia-born presidents reside, you’ll find a bust of the Frenchman who was neither a president nor born in Virginia.

100 Ways to Connect: Develop the Courage to Connect

This post begins our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

#1 Develop the Courage to Connect – It requires courage to make the effort to connect because not everyone will reciprocate.  You may hold out your fist to invite a “fist bump” only find you are left hanging or you may say “hi” to a passerby and receive no response.  When our efforts to connect are spurned it triggers “social pain” in our brains (the part of the brain that feels physical pain becomes active when we are left out of a group or our efforts to connect with someone are turned down).  That’s why it’s necessary to be prepared by knowing that not all people will connect with us.  In such cases, we need to recognize that we made the effort and had the courage to do so.  Of the three core elements of a connection culture, this practice reflects “Value,” which is also known as “human value.”

Update: It’s been a busy beginning to the summer.  I just returned from speaking at conferences and teaching workshops in Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans.  People in attendance at the workshops represented a wide variety of organizations including Allstate, AAA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, FINRA, the U.S. Government Services Administration, Leo Burnett, Liberty Mutual, Northern Trust, and United Airlines. Recently, I also spoke with Jim Blasingame on his radio program entitled The Small Business Advocate.  You can hear recordings of topics we covered during the conversation at the links below:

Who feels the most stress in the workplace?

Is there such a thing as good stress?

Practice the three V’s to reduce stress in the workplace?

Connection Necessary to Alleviate Poverty

More astute observers who work with the poor see that “poverty is broken relationships” and a connection culture is required to restore human dignity, productivity and prosperity.  Check out this insightful piece entitled “Restoring Broken Relationships” by Sean Dimond of Agros International.  You can also hear echoes of what Sean described in Acumen’s Manifesto.

Many thanks to Riley Kiltz of Cephas Partners and Paul Michalski of the New Canaan Society for bringing these examples to my attention.

From Boston, to West, TX to the NCAA Final

Connection is the bond among individuals in a group that moves them to care for and help the group and its members.  The power of human connection to unite, inspire and heal has been on full display of late in West, Texas; Boston; and at the NCAA men’s basketball final.  To learn more, check out the articles below.

West, Texas’s Small Town Values — and People — are Anything But Small (USA Today)

Boston Bombing Followed by Stories of Kindness and Heroism (Washington Post)

Brothers, Champions: The Secret Sauce Behind Louisville’s Third Title (Sports Illustrated)

To the people of Boston and West, Texas and to Kevin Ware, Louisville’s reserve guard who suffered a devastating injury, our thoughts and prayers are with you.