Updated: May 4, 2020
The pandemic has affected every one of us in some way. At a time of great fear and uncertainty, we've also had to isolate ourselves, which means the need for true human connection has never been greater.
Creating connection is a lot easier said than done, especially during a quarantine, but when you break it down to its smallest parts, connection comes down to the words you use.
You might recall a blog post I wrote last year on the four attributes of a Super Connector. I think there is even more value in using those strategies now.
Here are four tips for connecting with your customers, clients, and team members amid the pandemic. The need for Super Connectors has truly never been greater.
1) Build trust
Empathy and compassion build trust. Validation – making people feel heard – is how we build empathy.
When we find someone who connects with our struggles (or triumphs), we feel cared for and supported. A level of trust begins to form.
On the flip side, when we don’t feel heard, we have a hard time moving on in a conversation or being emotionally receptive to a solution.
As your customers, clients, and team members voice their fears and concerns during this time, it’s important to assure them they have been heard.
Some examples of validating phrases are:
I can understand this is a frustrating time.
That sounds really challenging.
I appreciate you sharing that with me.
Another way to think about validation is putting yourself in that person's shoes. You're considering the situation from another point of view, whether or not you can relate.
All of us have been touched by the pandemic in some way, which means many of us are the experiencing the same fears and frustrations.
Even if you can't relate directly to what someone is going through, it's important to show that person you're considering his or her experience. Empathy is important, especially in a crisis.
Remember: Validation builds empathy.
2) Be a good listener
Give the people you're communicating with a chance to be heard.
Don’t interrupt, and stay out of advice mode long enough to let the person you're communicating with a chance to share his or her thoughts.
Right now, people might be reluctant to voice their feelings or concerns. Part of being a good listener is reassuring them that it's safe to share their experiences and ask questions.
Sometimes, the best way to spur conversation and build connection is to ask questions.
Some examples of questions you can ask are:
How are you feeling about x,y,z over the next few weeks?
3) Talk in terms of solutions
Say what you CAN do rather than what you can’t do.
How do you feel when you reach out to people for help or advice and all they do is point out why they can’t help you? It feels like a punch in the gut, right?
Saying what you can’t do is the number one mistake I hear people make. Even if the solution is not the exact one the person is looking for, there’s always something you can do, and demonstrating your willingness to find an alternative solution can help you create a positive connection with that person.
Saying what you can do builds respect and loyalty; it makes the other person feel important and valued.
Right now, talking in terms of solutions is one of the most important things you can do to show people you have their best interests in mind.
Another way to think about it is focusing on moving things forward rather than backwards.
What's more, taking a proactive approach and providing solutions for anticipated problems before they come up will build even more respect and loyalty and make your customers and team members feel valued.
Some examples for how to move the conversation forward are:
"What I can do for you is..."
"I assure you we are going to find a solution."
4) Share next steps
Always let the people you're communicating with know what is going to happen next so they aren’t left wondering and can move on.
Because of the pandemic, people are entering your conversations in a heightened state of fear and worry.
Give them one less thing to worry about, and be very clear about the next steps.
Now, I want to hear from you. How are you connecting with your customers, clients, and teams amid the pandemic? Are there any other tips you would add to this list?