How to Instantly Lose Connection with Someone


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This information is for all the concerned, well-meaning friends, coworkers, family members and educators out there. You are a good person and you want the best for those you care about.

Let me give you what may seem like an obvious warning, but is something we all forget from time to time. I’m an offender, too.

The best way to instantly lose connection with someone is to judge them.

I’m not saying you roll over and accept whatever anyone does. And I’m definitely not advocating you forgo your discernment - defined as “keenness of insight and judgment.”

What I’m saying is if you want the best for someone, if you want to influence them in positive way, you must be connected to them. And when you are connected and they trust you, you can help them and they will be open to the full benefits of your discernment.

However, all bets are off when you judge them morally, intellectually, or emotionally. It’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about whether you want to be effective in helping this person or not. And if it’s more important for you to be right than helpful, do you know why that is and might that be helpful to your own development to understand?

See what I tried to model there? I didn’t say, if you are more concerned about being right than helpful, you need to take a good look at yourself and see why you are so self-righteous.

So provide your feedback and be open and honest, but leave the judgment out of it if you want your excellent advice to have the best chance of finding a friendly home.

The Most Powerful Connection Secret

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I can teach you lots of principles of connection. In fact, I’m writing on a book that covers universal principles of connection (e.g., vulnerability), why they matter, and how to deploy them. I can also teach you tactics that can help you connect in specific situations. Tactics are more situation-specific than principles so they may work better in some situations and worse in others.

I think universal principles and tactics are helpful to understand. And I’m a big fan of learning and applying these to improve yourself. Did I mention I almost never met a self-help book I didn’t like? However, there is a problem that even a self-improvement junkie like myself has with the whole process. It’s hard work to learn and internalize these new concepts. And when the pressure is on, more likely to revert to the knee-jerk reactions that got me to the place I am instead of remembering Tactic 2.5a that will take me where I want to go.

I feel quality connections with others is one of the most important things in the world to a human being. Got lots of money and can travel the world, but have no one to share it with? Have great health care and the best doctors, but no one to visit you in the hospital? Totally financially independent, but no one comes to you for friendship, only for hand-outs? Have great news, but no one to tell it to who will truly be happy for you?

Recently I was thinking about connection as a skill versus connection as a human ability that we all have, but that becomes corrupted or limited over time. Do we really need to be retaught connection? Is it possible that there is some shortcut that cuts to the essence of what we were all born knowing what to do?

As it turns out, there is a super simple way to increase your connection with almost anybody immediately. You won’t need to take a class, memorize a formula, or give me any money. It’s hiding in plain sight and we can all do it, we just choose not to. Or maybe we’ve forgotten how to over the years of being told we are an individual, being trained to be value independence and self-sufficiency, and being raised on a steady diet of competition and exceptionalism.

The secret to connection is to eliminate the distinction between yourself and others.

That’s it.

Allow me to explain. I don’t mean to lose yourself and to become what others are or want you to be. That’s a recipe for disaster. We’re talking about connection and not dissolving into some primordial soup.

Think about any recent argument you had or difficulty you had connection with someone.

What were the things running through your head before, during and after the encounter?

Why is (s)he being so unreasonable?

Why can’t they see why this is important to me?

How dare they think that they can do this to me?

They must be pretty delusional if they think I will stand for this?

What do you notice about all of the these thoughts? They all accentuate how you and other other person are separate players with different, conflicting agendas. And it is difficult to connect when you are heading in different directions. What if we changed this perspective. What if we started to see ourselves and others more like linked pieces of a machine? Like two gears working together.

Notice how this changes the questions above.

What are the different things we need and how can we reasonably help each other get what we need?

How can I help him/her understand how important this is to us?

Why is this happening right now and what can we do to make it better?

They must have a good reason to be doing this even though they must realize it is hurtful to us.

So if you are committed to making better connections, all you have to do is remember to do one, simple thing. Start to look at yourself and others as pieces together instead of separate parts. Approach each interaction with this mindset and you will be amazed at how easily you will start to connect with others. No lists, no worksheets, no role plays. Just a simple, but powerful perspective shift to break the chains that have been holding you back from connection all your adult life. Good luck!

Why Diversity Doesn't Always Work

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These days it seems like you can't go a week without reading another article or being invited to another company meeting extolling the virtues of diversity. And can we just decide once and for all, whether it’s Diversity & Inclusion or Inclusion & Diversity? You have probably heard at least one of these statistics that are supposed to convince you that diversity is a magical elixir for all that ails corporate America.

Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue

Source: Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market

Source: Josh Bersin research

Racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%

Source: McKinsey

Well gosh golly, if there are statistics to point to, it must be a slam dunk, right?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a poster child for diversity. While still in my 20’s I was having some coverage problems, but refused to join the Hair Club for Men. Instead, I opted for the full Shaolin monk treatment. This was before shaved heads were relatively normal to see in the office. I still remember the look of distress on the face of the VP of Employment Law as he said, "There's something . . . different . . . about you today," just as he realized what it was. I let him off pretty gently. If this doctored photo of me is any indication, I think we can all agree that shaving my head was the right decision. Alas, my K-pop boy band destiny was never meant to be.

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Still, sometimes I can't shake the feeling that there is something missing in the diversity discussion. Maybe you feel it, too. It's okay to admit it. The bald guy feels it, too. Maybe you feel like you have only been told the shiny parts of the story. It's like getting engaged to a charming someone with a high-paying job only to find out after the wedding that you are now drowning in debt. Or maybe there is a disconnect between the sexy statistics being thrown around and your own, less than glamorous experiences.

Enter Chris Jean-Charles - veteran of the United States Marine Corps, KPMG alum and former pet project of mine. My mission, as I jokingly told him, was to take this fit, disciplined, highly trained soldier and turn him into a soft, corporate marshmallow. There were some bright moments along the way (free pizza always helps and truffle fries might as well be Kryptonite), but in the end I failed and for totally unrelated reasons (Chris has assured me!), he moved on to follow his entrepreneurial dreams. While we worked together, we talked a lot about how many of the leadership principles he learned in the Marines were applicable to corporate America.

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This got me wondering, how does diversity work in the military, where collaborating effectively can be a matter of life and death? Chris and I met over lunch at a local pizzeria (see what I did there?) to discuss. I wanted to get his perspective on what works and what doesn't. Below is a summary of what I learned.

"When does diversity have a negative impact?"

Having a diversity of ideas about how to do things is just the starting point. In order to take advantage you also need a mechanism to decide what ideas to keep and what ideas to discard. Otherwise, you have chaos as arguments about whose idea is best go round and round. So let's say you have that mechanism and a decision has been made. Guess what? We're still not done! You also need buy-in from everyone. Justin Bariso during the Why It Works podcast on EQ, discussed the concept of "Disagree and Commit," often attributed to Intel. You don’t have to agree, but once the decision is made, the entire team needs to execute fully in good faith. In other words, when people aggressively or passive-aggressively sabotage the implementation, you're going to have a problem. So there is a people management aspect that cannot be overlooked.

"What types of leaders leverage diversity positively?"

The strength of diversity is also its weakness. More viewpoints equal more points of friction. Some managers don't want to deal with challenges to their world view. In extreme cases, they just want yes-men/women or clones. This makes for less friction, but are they really getting the best results? We shouldn't overlook the way that diversity challenges your ego. The likely result, maybe even the point of diversity is to directly challenge what you, as a person, truly believe is the best way forward.

The best leaders realize they don't know everything. They realize that there is usually someone around who knows more than they do on a given issue. And guess what, this doesn’t intimidate them. They relish the access to this information. Even though the leader is responsible for making the final decision and is accountable for the results, that doesn't mean they must decide without input from others.

Another weakness of diversity is that more viewpoints can make decision-making less efficient because analyzing the additional options will require more time. It's important to recognize that not all decisions carry the same time-sensitivity. Good leaders know which decisions need to be made swiftly vs. which ones can benefit from further discussion, and they communicate this clearly to their teams.

"How can leaders effectively lead a diverse team?"

Three insights here. The first one surprised me, in a good way.

1. Make sure the team meets its goals. Excellence and success breed connection and collaboration. Mediocrity and failure invite blame and divisiveness.

2. Encourage healthy conflict and lead by example. Make sure people are not afraid to disagree with you or speak up. This will encourage them to disagree with their teammates as well. There is a great discussion of this in the business book, Radical Candor.

3. Set the rules of engagement for healthy conflict. While you want people to be passionate and to give voice to their disagreement, they should always be respectful. Fight over whether an idea is stupid, but don’t call others stupid for having an idea that is different.

I hope this has given you some additional, real-world perspective on diversity and if you are like me (the conflicted about diversity part, not the bald part), informed your thinking about how we can better navigate these complex waters.

Please share your own experiences with diversity (or lack thereof) in the comments below.

And if you'd like to discuss further how your diverse teams can best leverage the principles of the Connection Code to achieve the best results, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to discuss!

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Special thanks to Chris Jean-Charles for taking the time to chat with me on the very important topic of diversity. To find out more about Chris or to connect with him and learn more about his latest adventures, find him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisjean-charles/

Bonus: Listen to Chris’ appearance on the Why It Works podcast as we discuss the topic of Blind Leaps.

Views expressed are my own.