In an increasingly diverse workplace, it’s more important and challenging than ever to communicate well. We must build bridges that cross our differences to connect our similarities. The Art of Connecting reveals five core principles and presents corresponding, specific strategies for overcoming communications barriers and connecting effectively with anyone, regardless of professional, generational, ethnic, cultural, or other differences. The authors also explain how the most skillful connectors are able to shift perspectives—to see a situation from three points of view: “me,” “you,” and “them.” All of the principles and strategies are brought to life through absorbing examples and scenarios, plus engaging descriptions of “masters of connection. There is always a bridge. The book shows how to find it”.
After studying people who have a great ability to connect with others, authors Claire Raines and Lara Ewing analysed what you need to do to become a “people person.” They present easy-to-follow guidelines. The most crucial tip is that you can find a point of similarity with anyone, no matter how different he or she seems from you, if you believe you can make a connection. First, learn to listen carefully and, then, once you uncover that similarity, you can build on it to communicate. Raines and Ewing fill their book with anecdotes from actual experience, and lots of ideas for fostering communication and overcoming differences.
The authors talked to groups in three cities about connecting through differences. Their goal was to meet with the broadest possible mix of people with regard to age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and country of origin. Although their interviews and focus groups were held in the United States, they spoke with people who hail from more than fifty countries. The 230-page book comprises eight chapters. Chapter one profiles our masters of connection and introduces you to the Titanium Rule-Do unto others according to their druthers. It’s essential to all successful connections. The next chapter takes you through the beliefs that masterful connectors hold dear. You will be able to reflect on your own values and see how your beliefs and expectations affect your ability to connect. Chapter three highlights the process of connecting. Here you will find actionable ideas about how to clarify your intention, respond to subtle cues, detect biases, sharpen your perceptions, and gather useful information. Chapter four underlines how to shift among three distinct perspectives. Great connections start with the mental flexibility to see and hear your situation from different points of view.
The next chapter is replete with important information for leaders who work with diverse groups and facilitate meetings in other cultures. Chapter six asks questions about connecting across difference and gives practical answers to challenges you may be facing. The penultimate chapter provides you three convincing scenarios to analyse. Each gives you opportunities to apply the principles and pathways and to design methods for connecting with people from other cultures. The last chapter gives directions for facilitating seven workshop or team-building activities that help people close the diversity gap.
By Ashok Kumar