Apr 16, 2010

Book Review - "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect"

I recently received a copy of John Maxwell's new book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect for my blog. This is the second book of his that I have had the privilege of reviewing. I have been blessed to have been connected to Dr. Maxwell's teaching since 1994 when I first started receiving InJoy Life Club lessons on cassette. I feel as though I have been personally mentored over the years by him. I know it has grown me and made me a better leader and people person.

When I first heard the title of the book, I thought that this would be a book primarily about public speaking. As a pastor who preaches for a living, I know the valuable art of connecting with people through public speaking. It is a craft that I have gotten better at, but still have a long way to go. This book, however, is not primarily focused on public speaking. Rather, it is more relational in its theme. This book is extremely practical. It needs to be read by about 90% of the people I know. I think Maxwell's theme is very appropriate. While everyone is usually trying to communicate, there are rare few who actually connect with people in such a way to get them to buy into his/her agenda. There are precious few people in our world today who are pouring into people's lives and adding value to them. Maxwell is one of these rare people. If you have ever had the opportunity to hear him speak, you feel as if you have known him for years.

The book is divided into two sections: Connecting Principles and Connecting Practices. The chapters are listed below:
  1. Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation
  2. Connecting Is All About Others
  3. Connecting Goes Beyond Words
  4. Connecting Always Requrires Energy
  5. Connecting Is More Skill Than Natural Talent
  6. Connectors Connect on Common Ground
  7. Connectors Do the Difficult Work of Keeping It Simple
  8. Connectors Create an Experience Everyone Enjoys
  9. Connectors Inspire People
  10. Connectors Live What They Communicate
As I read these chapters, I found myself saying, "I wish I had this book in my early years of ministry." I found too often that my problem was not my communication abilities, but my ability to connect with people, to add value to them, to have them believe that I wanted their best interest that caused me the most problems in ministry. I believe this is true for probably about 75% of ministers that I know. Our problem is usually not doctrine, its connecting. You can be the most biblically accurate expositor around and still lose your message if people don't believe you. Recently, I have seen some around me who are godly people but have shut people out because of the way they communicate with others. As I read the following quote, it opened my eyes to the reality of their situation:
Whatever is inside of you, whether positive or negative, will eventually come out when you are communicating to others. The proverb "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" really is true. That comes across and impacts the way others react to you. People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. That will either enable you to connect with people and win them over, or it will alienate them and cause you to lose them.
Overall, this is a strong book by Maxwell. It's probably one of the best I have read. Like most of his books, it is filled with stories and illustrations. For a communicator like me, it provides a vast amount of illustrations to file. The only weakness of the book is that sometimes the chapters seem a little repetitive. I found myself several times reading a sentence that sounded almost the same as something the author said a few chapters before. I imagine that part of this is due to the simplicity of the subject. How many unique ways can you say, "The key is connecting to people and adding value to them?"

I have already thought of at least two or three ways to use this book to help train others to be better connectors. I have also identified about 3-4 principles that I need to implement in my own life, family, and ministry. If you have to work with people in any capacity, you need to get Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.