Why Connection means more now than ever

A big part of my business is facilitating workshops with sales teams and their leaders….these days, all of these are on Zoom. 

 

One of the things that initially worried me was how well I’d be able to connect with the participants as I’m not able to physically gauge their energy levels and many of the non verbal cues from chest down to truly get a sense of what I need to do to adjust.

And it’s true that I can’t see from the chest down, but it’s not true that I am unable to connect.  In fact, I’ve learnt quickly that being able to connect on Zoom and on the phone have never been more important.  Not just for me as a facilitator but for ANYONE who works with people in these times: leaders, consultants, sales people, customer service people, accountants, doctors….you get the idea.  But here’s the skinny: if you struggled to connect in person, it’s actually okay.  While some of the fundamentals apply, connecting in a COVID world demands an additional set of skills.

With remote teams, teams returning to the office in shifts, customers working from home, we need a set of basics to enable us to be effective in the way that we connect because frankly, these conditions may be here permanently (albeit in varying degrees)…

Instead of skills, let’s call the following qualities to cultivate and develop to help you to connect more effectively:

 

Be curious

I can’t emphasise the value of curiosity enough. Ask yourself: “what can I discover about this person / these people that might surprise me?”  “what is it about their background that could have led them to this perspective?”  “what can I learn from them?”  By its very nature, curiosity suggests that we ask more questions, that there’s more to learn and understand.  On its own it develops a growth mindset, but as a practice it lays down new neural pathways and releases dopamine which makes it something we begin to enjoy.

 

Tune in

Seeing the world through the eyes of the other facilitates empathy and connection.  The ability to do that though can take some practice – especially when we’re talking about people who communicate very differently to us or whose world views are very different.  Having empathy and seeing through the eyes of others doesn’t mean we agree with their perspective.  It simply means we tune in to the way they communicate, and through that connection we’re better able to operate through their lens.  When that happens, we significantly improve our impact because we meet them where they’re at, and bring them along with us.  It’s not about convincing or persuading someone.   And this is why we must have emotional agility because when we get stuck in our own strong feelings, we simply lose sight of the other perspective; we’re totally absorbed in our own view.  Having emotional agility means practicing being the observer of our emotional responses so that we have the space to choose the most impactful response to connect.  Still us; just deliberate rather than reflexive.  Greater power in that.

 

Listen more than talk

Holding the space for someone as they tell you something is an act of service.  Not many people do this.  Conversations are often two or more people waiting for a gap to talk – to get their point across which does little to foster connection.  It’s like watching people talk side by side but along parallel lines.

If you can imagine that when you’re listening, that your heart is open and that your metaphoric arms are outstretched to receive every bit of what’s being said, then you’ll get what this is all about.  Making someone feel seen, heard and understood fast tracks trust if it’s done genuinely.  If you add to this, the ability use clean language (using the same words that person has spoken back to them), you may have a connection for life.  Very different to active listening.  When we use words, we each have meaning attached to them.   Our own meaning.  Which is why the exact words matter.  Not parroting.  Just a few key words.  And to do that, we have to pay attention.  Be totally present.

 

So can we do these things on the phone?  Yep. Can we do this on a video platform?  Yep.  Can we do this in person?  Of course.

Remote working isn’t going anywhere for a while  (I’ll wager never for some), so wouldn’t now be a great time to foster better connections with those you already work with and those you’d like to work with?  If this is how we’ll communicate going forward, in lieu of being able to sit down in person over a coffee or in the office, our ability to connect well using phone and video becomes more important than ever. 

 

Now is the time.

 

 

View our other posts

Entitlement vs gratitude

I heard a story the other day that I found troublesome but not uncommon.    And it’s something that will absolutely separate those who will be ready willing and able to make the most of 2021 and those who won’t be. The first story was that of an employee who was...

Making the shift from Knowing, Doing to Being

I’m not interested in what you know, how long you’ve known it for or even how much you know.  I am happy that you know it.    Experience shows me though that it’s not knowledge that changes things, it’s the application of that knowledge.  We can know a lot of...

Choose Enthusiasm

Joy!….What is it good for….absolutely everything!  Say it again!   Customer service people, sales people, leaders of people….those of us who work with others to achieve an outcome understands the power of enthusiasm.  Of bringing joy to a situation.  It’s...

Are you successful in spite of yourself?

Success.  Achievement.  Getting results.   In sales and in sales leadership, there’s a measure of success: improvement in sales, improvement in margin, increase in average transaction value, reduction in sales cycles…So when targets across these measures are...

2021 Starts Now

Victorian sales teams: if you’re waiting for the end of lockdown until you can get back out there in person to see your prospects and customers, stop waiting!  The time was 2 months ago.  Act now.   I say this because it’s like we’ve been wading through treacle...

Unexpected lessons from COVID

One of the things I drive and encourage in my client work is a practice of review and reflection.    It encourages and promotes a greater level of self awareness, learnings to take forward into future situations and link new concepts to existing knowledge.  It...

Why Connection means more now than ever

A big part of my business is facilitating workshops with sales teams and their leaders….these days, all of these are on Zoom.    One of the things that initially worried me was how well I’d be able to connect with the participants as I’m not able to physically...

Hibernation

I’m a Victorian.   Just as we faced the end of stage 4 of lockdown there’s no real end in sight…we’re all just hoping we can have a “normal” Christmas.   Now I know it can seem that the weeks are kind of flying by on one hand, but I think it’s because one...

Output over Optics

Remote workforces are here to stay.    While in many ways we’ve never been so “unseen” the essence of the value we bring to others has never been more exposed than it is right now.  Poor sales approaches, poor leaders, poor company values, poor work practices….ta...

From What if to Even if – A practice of positive action

Things are tough right now.   Regardless of where you live, the impact of the decision for Victoria to effectively close up shop will be felt by us all.  It’s just a matter of degrees.  Victorians will of course feel it more acutely. It is human to be despondent...