I remember reading an article in Forbes Magazine a few years ago that said that when 100 of the top CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies were asked to share the one skill to which they attribute most of their success, most of them said “the ability to communicate effectively with almost anyone.” Connecting with others is important.
But what do you do if you’re like me, or most of the men I meet, mentor, and coach, who are “socially-challenged?” If you’d rather go shopping with your wife than talk to a stranger or mingle with men you don’t know, connecting with others can be difficult. But it gets easier if you steal (I mean borrow) my simple 4-step strategy for turning strangers into friends and friends into brothers.
Step 1: Always start by asking, “What’s your story?”The truth is, everyone has a story. Most people just never ask about it.
The truth is, everyone has a story. Most people just never ask about it. I usually surprise men when I ask to hear their stories, but then I explain. I want to know how they ended up sitting next to me on a plane, where they started in life, what almost stopped them, what kept them going, and how life’s going right now. This question, which shows you care before you share, can kill at least 15 minutes, depending on how many follow-up questions you ask.
Step 2: Ask, “If you could succeed at anything, what would you attempt to do professionally?”
This question reveals a person’s secret desires. Not only does every man have a story, but every man also has a dream. He may be living it already or just starting to pursue it, but unfortunately, most men aren’t doing either. Most men have settled for safety over pursuing success. By asking this question, you give him permission to dream again, even if it’s only for a moment in your presence.
Step 3: Ask, “If you don’t mind my asking, what stops you from pursuing that dream?”
This is a touchy question because you’re tapping into his fears, doubts, and insecurities. What he sees as reasons for settling are more than likely excuses that have been preventing him from becoming the man he desires to be. Just listen as he tells you what’s been getting in his way and what he perceives as insurmountable obstacles. And if by chance he is living his dream, ask him to tell you what steps he took that led to his success.
Step 4: Ask, “What can I do to support you if you really want to do that?”
This is my favorite question. It lets him know I want to help him, as opposed to wanting something from him. I’m digging to find out what he needs that hopefully, I can provide. Why? Because unfortunately, we live in a society where most people have selfish motives, usually to further their own careers or agendas. Yes, I have an ulterior motive, too. But it’s to serve you by allowing God to use me to help you become the man you were called and created to be.
So regardless of how shy or introverted you think you are, trust me—you don’t have to be a great talker to build relationships. If you’re interested in connecting with others, you just have to be a good listener and a humble servant. Because like the late Zig Ziglar used to say, you can always get what you want if you help enough people get what they want.
Sound off: What questions help you socially connect with others?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your favorite questions to ask people?”