“Okay Tim,” you say.
“I get it. It’s important to prioritize human connection in my life. BUT…”
How Do I Get OTHERS to Prioritize Human Connection in THEIR Lives?
Good question. I’m glad I asked it for you.
Here’s a common problem I hear about all the time…
- Your employees prefer to email clients instead of picking up the phone and creating a more “real” connection.
- Or they text you instead of dropping by your office.
- Maybe emails filled with workplace gossip are circulating (and escalating) when a simple face-to-face conversation would clear things up in a second.
- Or maybe your kids have been known to text you from all the way across the couch.
It drives you crazy.
YOU make a solid effort to connect with those around you. YOU understand the benefits of doing so. What is WRONG with these people?
Okay, maybe a more effective question would be, how can we help these people see the light? How can we not only change their minds about human connection, but also their behavior?
Maybe you’ve tried before and quickly realized that the obvious ideas DON’T WORK.
You CAN’T simply talk about the virtues of human connection and expect them to change their deeply ingrained habits. Preaching at people is rarely a good idea.
You CAN’T provide them with a step-by-step framework for creating more connection with others and honestly believe that they’re going to comply long-term. Information does not lead to lasting transformation.
You CAN’T just quietly lead by example and hope they pick it up through osmosis.
You CAN’T lay down the law and ram a new set of protocols, scripts, policies, and procedures down their throats. You’ll come off like a nit-picking jerk. Besides, real connection can’t be planned or scripted – you must allow them some autonomy.
To me, this is what true influence and leadership are all about. Helping people to become better at what they do without damaging your relationship along the way. Being liked, being respected, AND getting the job done – it’s the influence trifecta.
So, What CAN You Do?
You can convey a message that has the best chance of creating the behavior change that you want. Yeah, I know…easier said than done.
But it’s only hard because you haven’t been taught the recipe.
The recipe for a message that will inspire has a few essential ingredients. You can add more elements if you wish, but do so cautiously – like you would with a spice. Spices can make a meal taste great in the right quantities, but too much will fill your mouth with the purest Hellfire.
NOTE: You can use this recipe to start any kind of movement you want, but I’m giving them to you here within the context of helping others to prioritize human connection.
The main ingredients of an inspiring message are: a Belief, a Blank, a Because, and a Bad Guy.
Beliefs are far more inspiring than facts. What gets people more charged up? Discussions about religion or discussions about mathematics? One is based in belief and the other in observable fact. Even those who have heated debates about mathematics are doing so because of differing beliefs or opinions. Facts just don’t move people like beliefs do.
What do YOU believe? What exactly is your message? What do you want them to do?
One thing to consider…state your belief in the positive. “Can you stop staring at your phone for two minutes, for crying out loud?!?” is crystal-clear on what you DON’T want them to do, but vague and fuzzy about what you DO want them to do. An inspiring message encourages people towards human connection rather than away from something else.
Know what you believe and communicate it clearly and powerfully. A good belief is polarizing. It’s a line in the sand. All or nothing. In or out. That way, when people share your belief, they’ll fight for it.
I BELIEVE: Human connection is worth prioritizing at work and in life.
Too much specificity will only confuse your message. Laying out a “12-point plan for human connection” or describing the “27 key elements for creating connection” is just too much to get people on board.
While you want the “what to do” part of your message to be crystal clear (see “Belief”), you want the “how to do it” part to be left blank.
This works great for instances when common sense is not so common. Those times when deep-down, people know what to do, but for some reason, they just aren’t doing it.
Human connection fits the bill.
When you leave blanks, it gives people the freedom to come up with their own ideas and strategies. In the moment, if they can remind themselves to prioritize human connection, they’ll find a way to do it. You don’t have to spell it out for them.
In fact, if you tried to, it would seem like you’re micromanaging them. They’d only resist.
How to Prioritize Human Connection: You’ll figure it out. I trust you.
A great message answers the deep abiding questions that continually plague our minds…
“What’s the big deal?”
“What’s in it for me?”
Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk told us that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When it comes to your ideas, if you want people to buy, you’ve got to give them a why.
An inspiring message communicates a strong because. It articulates the reasons why. It’s optimistic about the possible outcomes and hopeful for the future.
BECAUSE: Human connection brings TRUE success happiness, fulfillment, and joy.
A Bad Guy
Influential communication boils down to great storytelling.
Every good story has conflict, and every good conflict has stakes. The tougher and meaner the villain, and the higher the stakes, the better the story.
What is preventing us from connecting? What obstacles do we need to overcome? What happens if we don’t connect with one another? What if our entire species forgets how? What will happen to our own success, happiness, fulfillment, and joy?
Nothing binds people together like a common enemy.
THE BAD GUYS: Social Media? Greed? Selfishness? Fear? Complacency? All of the above?
Your homework: Develop your own call to connection. Share it with those around you. Repeat it until they’re sick of it. More importantly, live it out yourself. Even the biggest movements start out small.
Brainstorm yours in the comments below.