Relationships rule the world. In business, it does not matter what your role or for which organization you work, you have to connect with people. These connections don’t care if you are introverted or extroverted, assertive or submissive; we all have to find a way to communicate well with those with whom we work or interact. We can all learn how to do this.
One way to connect is to ask questions. I was reminded of this recently, while we were vacationing in Florida. A boat lost its way in the fog, shot out of the water, flew across the beach, and slammed into a restaurant. Luckily no one was hurt, and the damage could be repaired. Curious, we went to take a look, and immediately started talking to other vacationers about what had happened. We were genuinely interested in each other’s responses. That is how easy it is to connect – just ask questions and listen.
The key is learning to ask open-ended questions, ones that elicit information rather than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Show interest in people and what they have to say. Listen to their answers and respond accordingly. Have empathy and attempt to understand their needs. Be willing to share. Be genuine.
In any organization that values a culture of connectivity, whether internal or external, senior leaders need to become champions. I am often amazed to see senior people squirrelling themselves away in their executive offices, failing to interact with those who actually implement the organization’s strategy. They might visit a department’s manager, but in transit they keep their eyes straight ahead, ignoring workers who have the biggest interaction with and influence on the company’s clients.
Feed your staff, in return they will feed the clients who feed your bottom-line. First and foremost follow the “Platinum Rule” and treat others as they would like to be treated. Spend a little time getting to know people; become a very good question-asker, listener and observer of body language; and be genuine. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but the return on investment can be big.
Connecting well in business is a choice. Choose to connect and it will show up on the bottom line.