Are you connecting with others? Are you sure?

You have likely heard the expression you have two ears and one month for a reason, and that you should use them proportionately. In other words, you should be listening more than you should be talking. However, this doesn’t seem to be a well understood concept for everyone.

At the heart of connecting with others is being able to listen, and to do this well. Yes, this seems overly simplistic, but in reality, it’s not. Truly listening and hearing what someone is saying takes focus and practice. Consider the last time you spoke with someone. Do you think they were intently paying attention to everything you were saying? Or, were they like most people, and only semi involved in the conversation and doing a lot of head nodding and saying “ungh-hungh”?

When it comes to connecting with other people, the ones who have mastered this are similar to a Swiss Army Knife. You know, the kind of knife that has lots of different tools on it which can be used in many different circumstances. The act of connecting with a person is not a single dimension activity. Although listening well is one of the components required to connect with someone, it’s only one of the actions involved with the process.

If you were to break down the visual process of being able to connect with other people, it likely wouldn’t be a straight-line diagram. In fact, it would probably look like a scatter gram plotted across a sheet of paper. It would contain many starts and stops, and multiple directions in the visual engagement plotted on paper prior to landing at an end point. The end point also might in fact be the actual starting point of the connection being made, or taken to a different level of connection.

Why does it look easy for people who are good at making connections with others? It’s because like a Swiss Army knife I referenced earlier, the person establishing the connection is skilled at leveraging all of the tools required to develop a human connection.

Can this be a skill that is taught? Yes, I believe it can be taught, but don’t expect it to be like a drive through window experience with instant gratification. The analogy I would use in terms of the time it takes to learn how to master connecting with others would be similar to taking on an apprenticeship in a trade skill such as electricity or plumbing. It’s going to take time to become a pro.

So, what are the things you or someone you know who wasn’t born with the innate skills of being able to establish meaningful connections with others can do to improve your skills in this area? Here are some ideas I have for you.

  • The next time you are talking to someone, pay attention to whether you are really, and I mean really listening to them. Actively listening is a skill which needs to be fostered and practiced.
  • While you are listening to the person you are speaking with, make sure you are asking them thoughtful questions which are on point, and not disruptive to the conversation.
  • Don’t try to change the subject you are talking about. Let the person speaking control where the conversation is headed and captain it. Remember to play the role of a co-captain during the conversation and to be supportive of what they are saying.
  • Connecting well with others also involves determining points of common interest you share. By asking the right questions, you can establish at least one item you have in common. Use this as a thread in your conversation to build upon to help further develop the connection.
  • Test your connection strength. If the person you are engaging with is only providing short, one-word answers and not conversing with you, the connection you have is weak. To strengthen the connection during your conversation, start asking the person questions about themselves. I have shared this tip before, and it’s almost foolproof to help you elongate the conversation. This will give you an opportunity to keep an otherwise dead-end conversation going.
  • Your body language can work against you when you are trying to connect with them. One of the best ways to increase a positive connection is to mirror the body language of the person you are speaking with. However, if they have their arms folded across their body while speaking with you, make sure your arms are down by your sides. Crossed arms are a sign the person is not open to establishing a conversation or connection with you.
  • Think of someone you know who is a “pro” connector. Listen and watch them in action. There is a great deal to learn from them.

As I mentioned earlier, developing your connection skills will take time. The sooner you start to work on either developing or improving them, the sooner you will start to experience the benefits of being a strong connector. Remember, most amazing “connectors” are natural at this, but everyone can become better at this skill. Be patient with yourself as you are developing your “connector” muscles. They will emerge at some point after you have invested time in developing them.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too.  She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whisperer  and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019)and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

If you want better and different results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

“NEW!” Guide for Teams:

Every team is dysfunctional at some point.  Click on the link below to obtain a “free guide” with (5) Proven Strategies To Turn Your Dysfunctional Team Into An Epic One

 

 

Feeling anxious? Now what?

While on a virtual meeting the other day, I was talking to a someone who is in the healthcare industry. He is also an expert in mental health, and works with many people between the ages of 18-23. During our conversation, he revealed how people in this age range are struggling with their anxiety levels right now. He also acknowledged it wasn’t simply this age range that is struggling. Unfortunately, I was not surprised by this news.

I asked what was the single reason, or most referenced concern people said was causing their anxiety. His response surprised me slightly, but it does make sense. He noted that it is the increased lack of knowing what is going to happen in their respective lives that is spiking their anxiety levels.

Right now, all of us are living at a time when the word combo of “precarious situation” could be used to describe also how we feel. In plain English, uncertainty is what is currently ruling our days.

However, like many other feelings, uncertainty can be corralled. We can also apply more control than you realize, to help us reduce our anxiety levels. For starters, doing this takes looking at our respective scenarios from a different perspective from what you are facing. The questions I want you to honestly answer are: Are you willing to do this? What is the worst thing that would happen if you don’t? Perhaps you will continue to feel more anxious? I’m certain no one wants to feel a higher level than they presently do.

As an external optimist, I believe my skill set in this area are needed more than ever right now. I also feel fortunate to be My ability to contribute helping others feel less anxious is intended to purely help others feel a reduced sense of lack of control. If I am able to simply help one person, then I am grateful for being able to do so.

When I choose the name of my first book called “Wisdom Whisperer”, I intentionally did this. Why? Because the information I am sharing with others I consider to be wisdom others can benefit from…should they decide to listen. Hence the reference to “whispering” versus overtly shouting out what I am conveying.

The good news I was referencing about being able to control or reduce our anxiety levels, is with the intent of doing so without medication.  The reality is that I am not a healthcare professional, so I cannot prescribe medication. From a science and medical perspective, there are levels of anxiety that require medication, but most people can control theirs without it. However, if you require anxiety medication and it helps you, even temporarily, consider yourself fortunate to have found a solution. Especially in the time period we are in.

For those of you who believe you do not need to seek medication as a solution, here are some ideas for you to consider exploring and trying to see if they can help you to take back control of your anxiety level. Many of these will be ones you have heard of before. Perhaps even using currently, but for those who have not had to deal with anxiety before, this list is for you. Thank you to my professional mental health connection for suggesting these solutions.

  • Think about anything other than what is contributing to your anxiety. For many of you, watching, listening or reading about Covid 19 for any length of time, every day, and for excessive periods of time is not helping you. Reduce your intake of the news reports.
  • If you live alone, please make time to talk to your friends on the phone or via a video conference. Texting is Ok, but seeing the other person or multiple people you can talk to will make you feel much better. I had my second virtual “party” on Saturday night. For a number of my friends, it was the first time they had experienced the beneficial positive feeling and power of getting together and talking this way. A number of them said it simulated better than they expected what a real party would be like.
  • Any type counts. More importantly, try to do some type that you enjoy, and that could even feel like it is fun! Dancing around counts, so crank up your favorite music and start dancing.
  • Distract yourself with learning how to do something you have always said…I have always wanted to learn how to (fill-in-the-blank).
  • Change your diet. This is a great time to manipulate how you feel by feeling better by actually making an attempt to eat more healthy food. We all know that sugar is not our friend…although I know it tastes really good. Start by trying to cut down on the amount of sugar you eat every day. It will be easier than you think. One thing I did was to eat a piece of fruit, instead of having some ice cream.
  • Do something nice for someone else. You know the expression “It is always better to give than to receive”. My neighbor just texted me and said she has an open bottle of wine she used a small amount of in a recipe. She doesn’t like red wine, so she asked if I wanted to have the rest of the bottle. This has to be the best morning offer I have received in years! Although, I won’t be enjoying the wine until dinner tonight.
  • Loan your time and teach somebody how to do a skill you have mastered. Perhaps ask someone you know to teach you what they are a pro at doing, and then ask them if you can reciprocate. Or, introduce them to someone you know who can teach them a new skill.
  • Keep in mind that your anxiety level will decrease, and that now you have some basic techniques to help you to bring it down.

Please think of this list a catalyst. One intended to serve as a reminder about how to decrease our anxiety levels. My one request? If you made it to the end of this article, please share with me or others at least one of your own techniques to reduce anxiety. Thank you in advance for doing so, and stay healthy my friends, both physically and mentally.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too.  She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whisperer  and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019)and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

If you want better and different results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

“NEW!” Guide for Teams:

Every team is dysfunctional at some point.  Click on the link below to obtain a “free guide” with (5) Proven Strategies To Turn Your Dysfunctional Team Into An Epic One