The other day I sat down and calculated how many hours I have spent communicating in front of people. After scratching some figures down, counting using both fingers and toes, I came to estimate that I have spoken over 2,500 times for over 2,000 hours. When I put these numbers together I realize that I have talked and presented while others have invested 600,000 hours listening to me, or 68 ½ years! That is an accumulated lifetime.
I wondered to myself, “I spoke and they listened. Did I add value to their life during this time? Did I invest in them? Did I connect with them?”
I am 43 years old, so I hope to have another 25-30 good years left to engage, inspire, and connect with the people I speak with. I began to think, meditate, research, and inquire about the best way to connect—not just talk—but how to communicate in a way that invests in and adds value to others.
1. Communication that Connects is Passionate
For some, Passion = Emotion. Many times this is the case. Certainly Martin Luther King, Jr. passionately connected with thousands while using extreme amounts of emotion. But this is not always the case. I have heard people speak with great volume, emotion, and energy—yet they failed to connect. They came across as insincere and unbelievable. Passion is more than emotion. It is commitment. When a person is passionate about something, they fully immerse themselves in it. They live and breathe it. When they speak about their passion, they connect, because they love it so much they communicate their joy and enthusiasm to others.
2. Communication that Connects is Positive
Simply put, there is was too much negativity and despair is most communication these days. The 24-hour new cycle throws a continual barrage of mass shootings, celebrity scandals, and political fights at us until we are left psychologically drained and emotionally spent. While the news is the news and must be reported, it usually lacks a message of hope. This is what it means to be positive. Being a positive communicator is not withholding the truth or embellishing the facts to “put a positive spin on things.” Not at all. Being positive is telling the truth—no matter how ugly it is—but then providing a real solution and a message of hope about how to make things better.
3. Communication that Connects is Prosperous
In your communication, do you speak with others for your benefit or theirs? Are you investing in their life, their goals, and their best interest? Or are you concern primarily about what’s in it for yourself? If we are not careful, our motivation to speak and communicate with others can become about ourselves. When this happens, we miss a perfect opportunity to help others. Whether we are speaking to 100 people in a public setting or one person in a private conversation, our goal ought to be to help them. Sometimes we can reach a “win-win” and sometimes we reach an impasse. But our goal is always to add value to their life. We can accomplish this by asking ourselves:
A vast majority of communication in our culture is built around what is best for the communicator. The person who will stand out, influence, and connect with others is that person who is primarily concerned about the needs of others. Learn to communicate passionately, positively, and prosperously and you will connect with others on a level that will help them live better lives.
© Charles D. T. Miller, 2019