I want to share a recent email conversation with you. The connection started per a business meeting where I was invited to speak about Connectivity for a tight group of focused HR pros.
As I always do, the door is open for questions that follow our time together for all clients and audiences. One person had a question for me:
“How do you connect with people even when you don’t agree with their decisions/strategies, etc.”
Here’s my connectivity-lens reply:
It’s a big question! Let’s see if I can help.
In a connecting mindset, it all starts with suspending judgment. Suspending judgment and connecting with people – creating and developing relationships one at a time, in real-time, in-person – will open up opportunities and ways of thinking that a judgmental perspective will obstruct. Find the common ground by starting conversations with open-ended, positive questions – one I love is “tell me one thing that’s been great about your week so far?”; how about “what kind of music do you enjoy?”; “what’s the last book/movie/podcast you listened to?”
It’s not about agreeing – it’s about respecting. Yes, there needs to be an alignment of vision – you need to share a purpose when the intention is to work together. Yet everyone has their own way of looking at and executing the vision. I recall reading an article on Lucy Danziger years ago; she shared that she hires the strongest people she can find, who can all get behind the vision of the company.
“ ‘Hire the most opinionated, strong, willful woman you can, and try to find some common ground,’ she said.”
THAT’S incredible – and possible. And there’s so much else we can let fall away in the interest of finding the connections when we know we’re all building toward the same horizon.
Does it take skills and patience and education?
Active listening, crucial conversations (excellent book!), practice, guidance, mentorship, coaching… all of that.
In fact, those people who invite and accept the above self/education tools are going to be the best people you can find. Proactive in their own growth, as it also serves the bigger team & purpose.
As a common saying extols, we’re more similar than different. When we focus on finding similarities, on purpose, we find them. When we focus on points of disagreement, we find them. Unless they are fundamentally critical to the endeavor together, many times they simply don’t matter. And the relationship to be made – the match for find – is based on how do we work well together, knowing we’re different people.
Connectors seek and build common ground; ground we can come together on, not letting the perceived differences impede progress.