Soundview’s Editors recently interviewed John C. Maxwell, best-selling author of Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Here is an excerpt of the interview that relates to the challenge of connecting with people:
Soundview: You make a point in the book that connecting is really all about others. Why is this such a difficult point for people to understand?
Maxwell: First of all, we’re selfish. I’m selfish! I think the natural tendency is for all of us to say, ‘What’s in it for me?‘ … We’re just inclined to be selfish. That’s who we are. I’m not saying that’s bad or anything like that. That’s just who we are as people. Now, that’s why I think connecting has to be intentional, because connecting is not about me. It’s about others. As a young communicator in my middle twenties, it dawned on me that for a period of time as a young leader, I was trying to get people to connect with me and catch my vision. One day I realized, I’ve got to turn this around. I’ve got to get in their world. I’ve got to think about them and what they’re thinking about and what they need and how to help them.
… In fact the practice I’ve had for 25 years is that every morning I ask myself two questions: Who can I add value to today and how can I do it? And every evening I ask myself: Did I add value to someone today and how did I do it? I think it has to be intentional, and I think the reason most people do not connect is they do not understand the focus and the intentionality that is required to connect with others. I’ve watched other people that connect well, regardless of profession, and I can tell you that this is 100 percent fact. It’s not a principle that usually works. It does work. Everybody I know that connects with people, they do so because they’re thinking of others first and they place that as a very high value.