Social networks can be a gigantic waste of time, or they can enhance the quality of our lives. It’s not the tool itself but how we use it that matters.
For most of us, trying to understand others is unnatural. For me to truly understand you, I’d need to become you. Even when I try to see things from your point of view, I still can’t understand who you really are.
On the other hand, I can connect with you. I can empathize, listen, support, and become genuinely interested in what it’s like to be you. This shifts me from a purely mind-to-mind relationship toward a mind-to-heart relationship.
Ask the right questions of the right person in the right way, then listen carefully to what you hear.
Harvard professor John Kotter said it best, “In my world [of academia], we hit the brain 95 percent of the time and the heart 5 percent of the time, and evidence shows that isn’t the best way to change behaviour.”
Have the courage to connect heart to heart. One often-overlooked opportunity is right in front of us: the people in our organization. For example, our manager is a gatekeeper to our advancement—or not.
Connecting with this all-important person is a necessity. It is critical to imagine what it’s like to be them. What do they truly value? What is important to them? What values are they expressing? What is their business focus? Don’t guess—ask.
Ask Vital Questions
Here are some possible questions: What initiatives are we driving? How do we make money? What is our business model?
If you feel you already know the answer, then rephrase the questions to, “Here’s what I see we are driving here. … Am I on the right track?”
Of the many senior executives we’ve asked, more than 90 percent say that very few people in their organization (even other executives) actually know their business model and how they make money.
None of these owners, CEOs, or CFOs, felt enough people asked about this all-important facet of the business. Ask the right questions of the right person in the right way, then listen carefully to what you hear.
Now it’s time to connect what you do to the organization’s overall strategic thrust.
Ask, “How does my job support the current and/or future business model?”
In my world [of academia], we hit the brain 95 percent of the time and the heart 5 percent of the time, and evidence shows that isn’t the best way to change behaviour.
—Harvard professor John Kotter
To some, this seems self-evident. We’ve even received feedback from those afraid of being fired for asking these questions.
Their hesitation is misguided. When people sincerely ask these questions, most managers, executives, or business owners respond with genuine enthusiasm. In one case, the person was promoted on the spot. What began as a brief 5-to-10-minute conversation turned into an engaging, valuable dialogue.
The goal of these questions is to stay connected to your manager and to be aware of their connection to the organization’s purpose, values, and strategic framework.
Visualize Words, Entrench Habits
Sincere, committed people strive to get acceptable feedback from their managers, but both parties often struggle to see the other’s point of view.
To connect at the deepest level, turn what you hear into pictures you can see in your mind’s eye. Stay focused. Challenge your assumptions, and keep picturing what others say. Questions will pop into your head as you bring your picture into focus.
Repeat out loud the essence of what you pictured, rather than parroting the other person’s last few words, and you’ll connect with them at the deepest possible level.
To connect at the deepest level, turn what you hear into pictures you can see in your mind’s eye.
To develop high-performance skills, true professionals gather the information they need to visualize themselves using their desired competencies.
For example, Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner featured a fascinating video of an NHL player practicing by visualizing and making shots in his mind. Then he put the skill into a practice routine. Cherry then showed a video of the player scoring a goal in the manner he visualized and practiced.
I interviewed a professional football player who described a one-handed catch he saw another player perform. He practiced that technique for hours. I have a video of him performing a spectacular one-handed catch.
Professionals focus and stay focused on their desired outcome. This requires both mental and physical practice and application.
We can do this for ourselves, but part-time application does not entrench new habits. Avoid rationalizing by saying, “Just this one time won’t matter.” Each deviation matters. Every time you deviate from your goal, you begin the process over again.
Focus on one habit at a time. Don’t talk about doing it— begin taking action now! Your preferred future is only a habit away.
Dave Mather is a Performance Improvement Specialist at Dale Carnegie Business Group in Toronto. His columns can be read at ept.ms/dave-mather
Find Dave on LinkedIn.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.