I always enjoy John Maxwell’s books. I’ve especially enjoyed reading and rereading The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and 25 Ways to Win with People.
John teaches both life and leadership lessons that he’s learned from his decades of church ministry and from his work with Fortune 500 companies. I find his books to be brimming over with pithy advice, real-life examples, and encouragement.
So I was happy to come up on his latest book: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently.
It’s hardback, 262 pages, with a table of contents and endnotes (but no index). Chapters are 20 to 30 pages long, and they always conclude with specific suggestions for applying the lessons of the chapter in three different ways: 1) connecting one-on-one, 2) connecting in a group, and 3) connecting with an audience. Something is new in the book — at least I don’t remember seeing in his other books — Maxwell includes stories and insights from people who read parts of the book on his blog. Their comments keep the book well grounded in the day-to-day world of work. There are, as always, lots of questions for self-reflection and lots of great quotes.
Maxwell defines connecting as “the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”
The book is divided into two sections:
- Connecting Principles
Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation
Connecting Is All About Others
Connecting Goes Beyond Words
Connecting Always Requires Energy
Connecting Is More Skill Than Natural Talent, and
- Connecting Practices
Connectors Connect on Common Ground
Connectors Do the Difficult Work of Keeping It Simple
Connectors Create an Experience Everyone Enjoys
Connectors Inspire People
Connectors Live What They Communicate
There’s so much to ponder in this book. I couldn’t possibly list all of the things I like about it. So, instead, let me just comment on part of one chapter, “Connectors Connect on Common Ground,” that I found so insightful. After listing four barriers to finding common ground (making assumptions, arrogance, indifference, and control), Maxwell then reflects on ways to cultivate what he calls a “common ground mind-set.”
He describes eight of those mind-sets: making yourself available, listening, asking questions, being thoughtful, being open, being liable, being humble, and being adaptable. (It’s like Maxwell to list twice as many positives — eight connecting mind-sets — as negatives — four barriers.)
The three pages he devotes to humility are, themselves, worth the price of the book. He disputes the common assumption that humility means thinking poorly of yourself. He quotes Alan Ross’s definition in its place: “Humility means knowing and using your strength for the benefit of others, on behalf of a higher purpose.” He then tells of a time when he was speaking at a conference where other speakers bombarded the audiences with their own success stories. (Professional speakers are all too apt to do that, unfortunately.) He decided, instead, to share his failures and blunders as a leader. And by doing so he forged common ground with his audience and, I’m sure, gave them much more to think about than all the other speakers did. He concludes the brief section with four pieces of advice for putting his ideas about humility into action.
That section is representative of the rest of the book: clear and specific advice, real-life examples, and practical applications.
I highly recommend Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Check it out and let me know what you think.