Connect before you redirect. - Daniel Siegel

Most of us want to be heard by the people we spend our days with, personally and professionally.

We hold a meeting to forward a project we are working on and want the people we have invited to be in our corner, marching in the direction we request. We have a milestone to hit and need their support.

We sit down to a conversation with our partner, voicing something important to us and we want them to be receptive.

We identify a teaching moment with our kid and want our advice and experience to matter.

All of us have an agenda for our interactions. Sometimes it is conscious and other times it is less so, but it exists. And more often than not, our agenda is different from that of the person whose attention and focus we desire.

The people in the meeting have a different set of priorities.

Our partner has their own set of needs and limitations.

Our kids are on their own path.

How do we navigate interactions where agendas conflict with one another?

We must connect with the other person - their agenda, their ideas, their emotions - before we can redirect the dialog. Doing so unlocks our ability to influence others. We hold the power to build the connective tissue.

This age-old wisdom is the underpinning of several bestselling books.

The 5th principle in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states “seek first to understand, then be understood.” You must understand the other person before they are able to understand you.

Similarly, Dale Carnegie weaves this principle throughout his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. “To be interesting, be interested.” People listen to those people that interest them. Most people are interested in people interested in them. Show interest and they will reciprocate.

Any of us can easily identify numerous people who do not connect first. They are the majority. That is exactly why identifying and practicing ways to connect before you redirect a conversation will set you apart as a leader and put you in a position of power.

How do you do this?

State the agenda for your meeting and ask what others want to get out of the meeting before delivering your message. Tie your ideas to their desires.

Identify the thing you want to discuss with your partner, verbalize it in one sentence, and ask an open-ended question of them before speaking further.

Approach your kid with curiosity. What is leading them to act a specific way? Only then can you show them other ways to get the same endpoint.

In the most simple form, let the other person lead. They too, want to be heard.