Today’s post is the featured article from the June 2012 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Being successful at communication ultimately has little to do with skills. It has everything to do with connection. Skills are simply a set of tools that, when put in the right hands (better yet, in the right mindset), can be useful. But they aren’t the end-all some would have you believe.
It is an over-used quote, but one which holds endless truth: They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. They also don’t care “how” you deliver what you know … unless they know you care!
Organizations expend extensive resources in time and money to better position their people to negotiate, communicate … and sometimes, unfortunately, to directly or indirectly manipulate. It seems, in both internal and external relationships, we would be far better off spending those same resources in helping people more genuinely connect and more deeply care.
Anyone can fend-off your slick skills.
In fact, your polished skills can often be a turn-off when they appear to have no real grounding. It is much harder to deny your care and desire to connect. It can’t be fake. It has to come from a place that is real.
This is much harder to teach than it is to model. People know it when they see it in a leader … and then it tends to go viral. Communication skills are much easier to teach, but they are far less potent unless they are planted in the fertile soil of care and a desire for connection.
Care and connection are not skills. They are an outgrowth.
Care and a desire for connection are the fruit of a keen awareness of our personal core values … especially when our values are coupled with a deep understanding of how they connect to organizational values. This systemic connection of values sets the stage for an incredible foundation from which solid communication skills can flourish.
Communication skills such as strong eye contact, good energy, strong and varied vocal animation, along with thoughtful pauses shouldn’t be the drivers to create a sense of connection. It is the other way around! Our genuine care and desire for connection will naturally bring each of these communication skills to life.
I am in solid support of teaching skills. Fertile soil cannot produce without the seeds being planted. Communication skills are these seeds. And they become exponentially more valuable when planted in the rich soil of care and desire for connection. Yet, we have to til the soil before we plant the skills.
Many would prefer the quick fix of just honing a mechanical skill in the hopes it might appear genuine. Those days are over. Customers, clients, employees and followers usually see directly through that sheer.
Care and connection come only from your core.
Think about the last time you were with a friend, a client, a work colleague, or a family member for whom you really care and with whom you have a natural connection. Regardless of the level of your communication skills, my bet would be, you had little trouble communicating!
Ultimately, we should eliminate “communication skills” workshops … merging the content into a different kind of experience. We would be better served by discovering how much we care and from there developing our “connection skills.”
My hunch is that we wouldn’t only be better served … but we would serve better.
We may be surprised in just how some incredible communication skills would naturally follow! Life is more than a series of transactions … and communication is certainly more than a set of skills.
Ironically, our desire to connect will eventually be overshadowed by our ongoing natural ability to do so. It will have less to do with whom you’re with and more to do with who you have become. It is there you will have moved from “c” to shining “c” … from communication to a shining connection!