“Talk is cheap. Everybody does it. The question is, how can you make your words matter and influence any outcome? How can you really connect with others?” In a world where communication is lightning fast and every moment of every day is seemingly saturated with messages, how can you make sure your message connects with its target? Do you even understand what connecting really means? John C. Maxwell explores the ins and outs of connecting and effectively communicating with those around us and offers his proven method – Five Principles and Five Practices – to help you do just that.
I was eager to get this book and improve my communication skills by actually connecting with people. However, I just couldn't get into it. Communication is a two-way street, so either Maxwell's writing just didn't do it for me or I possibly have some subconscious aversion to improving my communicating skills. I intend to give this book another go when I get the chance, but for now all I can say about it is that it didn't connect with me, although the following excerpt, perhaps, gives me insight into why:
The final reason people often place too much focus on themselves and not on others is insecurity. I admit, this was not one of my problems as I started my career. I grew up in a very positive and affirming environment, and I did not lack confidence. However, that isn't the case for many people.
Chew Keng Sheng, a lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia's School of Medical Sciences, believes that the underlying reason for immaturity and ego-centeredness, especially among public speakers, is insecurity. “I can remember the first few times when I was asked to speak,” wrote Keng Sheng. “I was literally shaking. When the speaker is insecure, he will seek approval from his audience. And the more he wants to seek approval from them, the more engrossed he becomes in himself and how he can impress others. As a result, he is more likely to fail to meet the needs of the moment.” What a negative cycle that can create, especially if a person doesn't receive or recognize the desired approval.
Insecurity is something I am familiar with, and has been an undermining factor in many personal endeavors over the years. Perhaps overcoming insecurity is the first step for me to begin honing my communication and connecting skills. I am thankful that, as Maxwell puts it, “it's a skill anyone can learn.”
- increases your influence in every situation
- is all about others
- goes beyond words
- always requires energy
- is more skill than natural talent
- connect on common ground
- do the difficult work of keeping it simple
- create an experience everyone enjoys
- inspire people
- live what they communicate
These are all principles and practices that anyone can learn to develop and perfect, but the first step in doing so would need to be identifying roadblocks to learning the skills needed to put them into practice. While I did not “connect” well with this book, I would still recommend it to others as I think it was more of a problem on my end than with Maxwell's.