Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently: Book Review; V5 Issue 1

Title: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently
Author: John C. Maxwell
Publication details: Jaico Publishing House, 2010
Number of pages: 247 pages

Have you come across people who inspire, create positive energy, and develop better relationships just through their communication? Here is a book which will tell you how they do it. “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John C. Maxwell an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author illustrates the importance of connecting with people and not just talking to them. He also explores the principles and practices that can make one’s communication more effective in any context be it communicating to your team member or presenting to an audience.

The book opens with a chapter on the necessity of connecting. There is a lot of noise and chatter in the world and it is difficult to filter through and be heard clearly, accurately and with intention. But we must find a way to connect to people if we want to have any influence with them. Then Maxwell reveals the five principles of “Connecting” viz., connecting increases your influence, is all about others, goes beyond words, requires energy and is more skill than natural talent. Maxwell reinforces each principle with anecdotes, data and quotes including those from people who have commented on his blog. So to illustrate that connecting requires patience he uses Henry David Thoreau’s quote “The man who goes alone can start the day, but he who travels with another must wait until the other is ready.”

Maxwell then goes on to detail out the following five practices that can help us connect:-

  1. Connect on common ground (connecting based on common interests and values)
  2. Keep it simple (ensuring one’s communication is not complex to understand)
  3. Create an enjoyable experience (making your communication interesting for the listeners)
  4. Inspire people (communicating such that you motivate your listeners)
  5. Live what you communicate (importance of establishing credibility and supporting your words with actions)

Each practice is broken into sub practices. So for creating an enjoyable experience the sub practices include take responsibility for your listeners, communicate in their world, capture people’s attention from the start, activate your audience, say it so it sticks, be visual and tell stories. And again they are supported with numerous examples. I like the story Maxwell tells to illustrate “Talk to people not above them”. A preschooler on asking his dad about why his apple was turning brown was given a response of “Because after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came in contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure and turning it into a different colour.” There was a long silence and then the boy asked “Daddy are you talking to me?” Funny, but drives home the point right?

After each principle and practice has been defined and demonstrated, Maxwell explains how to apply it to one-on-one situations, group situations and larger audiences. For instance while talking about connecting going beyond words he suggests that in one-on-one situations connect emotionally through touch, in group situations through honoring the group’s efforts and rewarding their work and in larger audiences through facial expressions, laughter and tears. The book also offers a lot of practical tips. For example he suggests using a connection checklist comprising of Integrity (did I do my best?), Expectation (did I please my sponsor?), Relevance (did I understand and relate to the audience?), Value (did I add value to the people?), Application (did I give people a game plan?) and Change (did I make a difference?).

The story telling style makes it easy to read and make the lessons more memorable. The format of the book is such that you can open any chapter and gain some valuable insight. Regardless of what role or position or function you are in this is one book that can help you be more effective at what you do.