The Power of Connection
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
Are you someone who loves to talk to people you don’t know? Do you enjoy meeting people and learning about them and their lives? Are you a person who can see someone in an airport and just start talking? As leaders, we know the power of personal connection with our teams. We probably read the book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, but do we practice this with strangers? Are we going the extra mile with the people we don’t work with? Maybe if we did, the world would be a better place. Let me give you a recent example.
Last week, I needed to have a tooth extracted. I was nervous when I arrived at the oral surgeon’s office. I knew that the extraction would be done under local anesthesia, so that meant I would be fully aware of each bone-crushing, head-jerking moment. While I was waiting for the anesthetic to set in, I tried to distract myself from my (perceived) impending doom. My mind started to wander, which didn’t help me much, but then I remembered something about the oral surgeon and a possible connecting point. When he arrived in the room, I asked if he lived on a specific lake and had a wooden boat. He chuckled a bit and said no, but his brother did. We chatted for about 30 more seconds, and the “procedure” began.
The “procedure” was far worse than I expected, but the doctor was amazing. As he wrenched, ground, and probed into the depths of my jaw, fighting a cracked tooth that had roots I was certain were several inches long, he spoke to me about his brother’s boat and boats that he had grown up with that while, fiberglass, still had inboard engines. Interspersed in the discussion of boats, he encouraged me, telling me that I was doing great, and with just a few more twists, grinds, and jerks, he was finished.
So, was my oral surgeon’s ability to connect something he learned in medical school or was it something that began when I asked if he owned a wooden boat. Perhaps the answer is both. I say that because while I was in recovery, he came back and said, “Dave, there is someone who would like to meet you.” It was his brother, who is also an oral surgeon, and we had a brief, but wonderful, discussion about his boat and some of Its fascinating history.
I was filled with joy about the personal connection that I made surrounding my “procedure.” So joyful about it that when I called my wife to update her on my appointment, I spoke about the two doctors. When I got home, I couldn’t wait to tell my son. Later in the afternoon, I told my wife again, never realizing that I had already told her until she started laughing.
Maybe this is what we need more of in the world. More connections with strangers. More connections with the people we see in the grocery store or doctor’s office. If we make an effort to connect, we may find out that we have a lot in common. We will realize that we are all very much the same and that each person is a blessing to this world, and maybe we are the person to help them realize that they are a blessing to us. If we don’t make an effort to connect, we lose the blessing. After writing this, I think I need to write a thank-you note to the good doctor and his brother.
If you would like to hear more about connecting with others, listen in to Episode 162 of The Next Page podcast.