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Reader's Review

John Baker

The Art of Connecting: How to Overcome Differences, Build Rapport and Communicate Effectively with Anyone
By Claire Raines and Lara Ewing
230pp. New York: AMACOM, 2006
Hardcover Edition (US) $24.95

Claire Raines is a consultant, co-author of five books on business, inventor of the board game entitled Connecting Generations™ and a well-known participant on a variety of media programs.  Lara Ewing is also a consultant to senior leaders and multi-cultural/multi-national executive teams in major corporations throughout the world.

The Art of Connecting is one of those works that is filled with good ideas and insights, uses interesting illustrations and individuals to make its points and offers some self-testing and other exercises to its readers.  Most importantly, however, it is a book that anyone dealing with other people should benefit from reading.  For the negotiator, its topic is essential.

“People connect via similarities,” the authors assert (p.34).  The job of the would-be connector is to discover and employ those similarities. 

Central to that discovery and connection building process, is what the authors term the “Titanium rule” in contrast to the famed “Golden Rule.”  Rather than using the Golden Rule’s prescription to treat others as you would like to be treated, Raines and Ewing focus on treating others as they would prefer not as you might necessarily wish to be treated.  That is the “Titanium Rule.”  It is a critical, but vital distinction.

Beyond the “Titanium Rule’s” concentration on the preferences of others, top connectors use a set of five key principles to guide the process, the authors tell us.  The most central premise is the recognition and acceptance of the certainty that “there’s always a bridge” (p.39).  Given this assumption, the mind-sets, strategies and techniques for effective connection create the rest of the book.

This should be familiar territory for negotiators who are often reminded that understanding the other party’s perspective is essential to their future success in negotiation.  The effective negotiator, trainers and coaches insist, must attempt to step into the other person’s shoes.  It is part of the field’s mantra in article after article.  The more perplexing question, of course, is how to do it.  This is a book that provides the answers.

Let us focus on just one portion of this work for some of that answer, an entire chapter on perspective.  In this section, you will find explanations of differing perspectives and their resulting points of view, an exploration of the importance of learning to change perspectives, how to do it, its benefits and its dangers.  It is good solid help.

 

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June 2006