Chapter 6 Synopsis

Connectors Connect on Common Ground

If I had to pick a first rule of communication—the one practice above all others that opens the door to connection with others—it would be to look for common ground. That rule applies whether you’re resolving conflict with your spouse, teaching a child, negotiating a deal, selling a product, writing a book, leading a meeting, or communicating to an audience.

I’ve already explained how in the first several years of my career as a leader and speaker, my focus was too much on myself. And only when I started to realize that connecting is all about others did I start to improve.

Most people believe that finding common ground with others is a matter of talent: some people are simply good connectors, while others aren’t. While I do agree that not everyone starts out with the same ability to connect, I also believe that anyone can learn to connect because connecting is a choice. It is a mind-set that can be learned. Avoiding certain barriers to connection and choosing to work at finding common ground will greatly increase your odds of connecting with others.

Here’s one strategy for getting started: When I want to really get to know someone, I ask three questions. People’s answers to these give me great insight into their hearts. The questions are:

  • What do you dream about?
  • What do you sing about?
  • What do you cry about?

If you know the answers to those questions, you will be able to find common ground with someone and connect with them.

If there is a more important key to communication than finding common ground, I certainly can’t think of it. Common ground is the place where people can discuss differences, share ideas, find solutions, and start creating something together. Too often people see communication as the process of transmitting massive amounts of information to other people. But that’s the wrong picture. As I already mentioned, communication is a journey. The more that people have in common, the better the chance that they can take that journey together.

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