As the holidays approach we all think about the conversations we are going to have. Those we look forward to having and those thrust upon us. How do we talk about the year in review? Hot button political questions? Hurricanes? Fires?
The Art of Connection, by Michael Gelb is a guide to creating, and maintaining, genuine rapport with others. Connection is the research validated secret of happiness, health and longevity, and it’s also especially relevant on a personal basis as we approach the Holiday season. Gelb leads seminars for corporate teams to help them communicate more effectively, but, as he emphasizes, these same skills may be even more important in dealing with family and friends.
Gelb outlines seven skills distilled from decades of practical experience.
- Embrace Humility — Why humility is the source of genuine strength and confidence, and how to cultivate it. (Be open to seeing your chatty Aunt Edith in a new light. Ask her some questions. What’s her earliest Thanksgiving memory? What is she most grateful for? How did she develop her recipe for stuffing?)
- Be a Glowworm — How emotions are contagious and how to spread the energy to bring out the best in yourself and others. (Thanks to mirror neurons others will reflect and magnify the attitudes you manifest. If you choose an uplifting, grateful attitude and look for the best in everyone, even your estranged ex, you may be surprised to discover that the atmosphere becomes more positive.)
- Achieve the Three Liberations — Profound ways to shift out of patterns that interfere with your ability to connect with yourself and others. (Most important here is to let go of taking anything personally, refrain from the temptation to complain or commiserate and suspend your automatic judgments of everyone and everything. This liberates way more energy to enjoy the turkey, the football game and all your relatives.)
- Transcend Fixations — Move beyond the habits that limit your freedom to connect and respond intelligently and effectively, to different types of people. (When we realize that most of people’s behaviors are hard-wired expressions of their personality typology it’s much easier to be compassionate and not take things personally.)
- Balance Energy Exchange — Methods to monitor the balance of energy in relationships and adjust when necessary. (As Wharton Professor Adam Grant advises focus on being “otherish”…little acts of kindness make a big positive difference)
- Be a RARE Listener — How to improve your real listening skills right now. (The Holidays are a wonderful time to practice ‘empathic listening.’
- Turn Friction into Momentum — What you need to transform your approach to conflict (Unlike the football game you may be watching, a conflict isn’t a contest. It’s an opportunity to find creative solutions to meet your needs and the needs of others. Think creatively about new ways to relate to the people who get on your nerves.)
These skills are all timeless, but they are also especially timely. Each chapter includes illustrative stories, relevant scientific research, and practical exercises to help readers apply the skills in their life today.
Michael J. Gelb has pioneered the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, and YPO. He also teaches at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and the London Business School. He is also the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and several other bestsellers. His website is www.MichaelGelb.com.