How to connect with others

Strong connections with others form friendships and friendships require four basic building blocks.

  1. Proximity = distance between you and the individual.
  2. Frequency = the number of interactions you have.
  3. Duration = length of time with the individual.
  4. Intensity = degree of satisfying their psychological and/or physical needs.

The golden rule of friendships is to make people feel good about themselves. To do that use empathetic statements to express that you see the world through their eyes. Other useful tools include using compliments, ideally trying to get the person to compliment themselves. Also seeking commonalities help people feel they are “normal” and you are similar to them, so have a similar worldview.

For verbal behaviour, remember LOVE

  • Listen = eye contact, don’t interrupt, parrot back what they say.
  • Observe = interpret their body language and look for meaning behind their words.
  • Vocalise = Don’t call people out, elevate their status by using compliments, ask about them.
  • Empathise = use empathetic statements to appear that you see the world through their eyes.

To develop short-term relationships to long term caring think CARE.

  • Compassion = show that you care about their life and challenges.
  • Active listening = use verbal and non-verbal nudges to keep them talking, focus on what they are saying, compliment them on good points and suggestions.
  • Reinforcement = reinforce positive attention on them.
  • Empathy = show that you see the world through their eyes.

Lastly, remember Dale Carnegie’s advice on getting people to like you.

  1. Become genuinely interested in them.
  2. Smile.
  3. Use their name.
  4. Listen, encourage them to talk.
  5. Talk in terms of their interests.
  6. Make them feel important.

 

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SuperConnect: How the best connections in business and life are the ones you least expect by Richard Koch & Greg Lockwood

Weak links

The book offers a differing perspective to networking and connecting. The conventional idea is that strong links (friends/family) are the most important, but the authors suggest that individuals or organisations that rely on a multitude of weak links will prosper the most.

Typically those who are the most successful have an unusually large and varied assortment of friendly acquaintances who they maintain frequent but irregular contact with.

The main way we can build and maintain a large repertoire of excellent weak links is to keep a broad circle of friendly acquaintances and to be open to new people or worlds while continually thinking – at a patient, submerged level – how they might be relevant to our aspirations.

Meeting weak links

Beside just being open and serendipitous to new acquaintances we can use other tactics to meet new people. There are three ways we can do this.

  1. Deliberate immersions – getting a new job, new hobby, joining a new club, volunteering.
  2. Strategic positioning – going to places where there is plenty of opportunities for random contact with new people – walking your dog, sitting on a park bench, becoming a regular at a bar or coffee shop.
  3. Existing contacts – ask your existing contacts if they know people who might be interesting, revive old friendships and acquaintances.

Hubs

One of the most powerful ways to forge weak links is through being part of a hub. A hub is a collection of people who work together to strengthen the hub. The most frequent hub you probably inhabit is your work one. Through your work you meet new people and form collections with them. However, particularly if your work hub is small, your work hub obviously restricts your ability to create lots of weak inks. Therefore, once you have learnt the key skills from your job and created as many weak links as possible, you should then join another hub. Through the process of “hub hopping” you can create an endless supply of weak links, which may prove invaluable. Hub hopping doesn’t just have to be for work, you can also hub hop across hobbies, across bars and restaurants you frequent, and across clubs you are part of.

Spreading ideas

Lastly, if you ever get into a position where you want to spread a new idea, operate on both sides of the equation – the benefits of the new idea, and the effort to understand it. Increase the benefits and make them obvious. Cut the energy required to grasp the new idea. Simplify it. Compress it into a soundbite.

Connections and systems

One of the main abilities we must develop is being able to connect things together. We must be able to do that to form systems. A system is a set of interacting or independent component parts forming a complex or intricate whole. Everything in existence is made up of parts joining together to form a whole, that whole is then just another part of an even bigger whole. Therefore, in all areas of our life we should make links to interconnect separate parts to form systems.

A causal system is when A→B. If you manipulate A you change B.

Causal systems aren’t good ways of thinking because they are massive simplifications and don’t account for inter-connectedness and feedback loops. Causal systems are created by reductionism which break systems down and simplify then by artificially restricting components to make observable repeatable experiences.

Holistic thinking is the opposite of causal thinking because it concerns itself with concentrating on the wholes rather than just the parts. The problem with holistic thinking is how do you determine the whole. Holistic thinking starts by looking at the behaviour and nature of the whole, and if it doesn’t yield results, starts to look at the bigger whole. This is the opposite of causal thinking. The problem with holistic thinking is that our brains simplify wholes so that we can understand them. The way our brain simplifies these wholes are determined by our perspectives and worldview.

  1. Therefore, we must be clear and explicit about our own point of view.
  2. We must make a serious effort to see systems through other people’s eyes.
  3. We can also look for unintended consequences of systems by looking at everything the system produces and assume an unintended consequence is its purpose.

Our perspective refers to how things look from our current position and our worldview refers to how we see the world, regardless of our current position. Therefore, it is possible to gain additional perspectives, but harder to change our worldview. To simplify a system without reducing the connectedness involves regarding it in a more abstract fashion. We must then bring the system back to reality again, potentially using reductionism. We must first identify the boundary which separates the system from its environment and then seek to understand how individual components look from within the system.