Is meeting new people your idea of hell?
Would you rather get poked in the eye with a sharp stick than introduce yourself to a stranger?
And what about that person you already know but just can’t relate to no matter how hard you try?
You blurt out something dumb and their face scrunches up.
Everything goes to slo-mo.
You swear silently, chirp something inane, and then realize your tongue has become a thousand pounds of dusty cement.
You’re certain the other person must feel like a cornered animal looking to escape.
So instead of dreading your next encounter, use the following tips to quickly connect with anyone.
First prepare yourself.
Right at the beginning, it’s all about you.
Since getting flustered usually means you’re self-conscious, how is focusing more on yourself supposed to help?
Here’s how. Quickly take the following steps to get yourself calm, open, and ready for rapport:
- Feel your feet on the ground.
- Do a quick internal scan of your body. Note any tense spots, and inwardly smile into them.
- Check your shoulders. If they’re up around your ears, melt them down your back.
- Relax your arms at your side, hands open.
- Make eye contact and smile.
- Don’t let it throw you off if they don’t smile back, especially if you have a history of being disconnected with them.
- Take a soft slow deep breath. Briefly pause. Softly exhale.
With practice, you’ll get so skilled at this self-check that you’ll do it instantly.
You can also do this whenever tensions are running high to get yourself right back to calm, curious mode.
Then be like a camera; focus on them.
Forget about yourself. Bring your full attention to them.
Read their body language.
Check their expression, posture, and shoulders. Take note of the top three areas that give you solid clues about how they’re feeling:
- Is their face pinched or soft?
- Are they standing with arms down and open, or crossed over their chest?
- Are their shoulders hunched forward, or down and relaxed?
If you’d like help learning how to read other people, no problem!
You’ve got an opportunity to learn about another person and enrich your life.
Simply enjoy how they see the world.
You don’t have to agree or change your dearly held beliefs. But consider that you just might:
- Learn the answer to something that’s been puzzling you.
- Discover the perfect accountability buddy.
- Find a fantastic teammate.
Listen to find common ground.
Note the language they use.
What does their vocabulary say about their viewpoints?
Do you use similar language? If so, you might have more in common than you realized.
But if they say something that provokes a reaction in you, simply note it. No need to go all gangsta on them. This isn’t about you, remember?
Say, “Tell me more.”
It’s a phrase that draws people out faster than free hot fudge at an ice cream sundae convention.
Tell me more is especially useful if you’re talking with someone who’s been barking short answers despite your best efforts to put them at ease.
Corral your wandering attention.
You know what happens.
The other person’s talking, but you’re thinking about that weird phone call you got earlier. Can you believe what that guy said?
You realize you’ve completely missed the last few bits of conversation.
Just quickly bring your focus back to the other person. Don’t beat up on yourself. It happens to everyone.
You could say, “Sorry. My attention wandered for a minute. Mind saying that again?”
Far from offending anyone, you’ll actually reassure them that you’re so present that you know when you’re not, and you aren’t just pretending to listen.
Watch how the other person responds.
For example, if at first their entire being screams, “I’m tense and uncomfortable!” – awesome! Rise to the challenge. See if you can get them to open up and relax.
Do they drop their shoulders?
Are they smiling at least a little more?
Do they lean toward or move closer to you and make more consistent eye contact?
Are they answering your questions with enthusiasm and interest?
Are you ready to connect?
You’ve learned how to develop a calm, open presence that will direct the tone of your encounters. Just as physicists tell us how a plucked A string on an instrument will cause the A string of nearby instruments to vibrate, so too will others vibrate with your energy.
You’ll be centered and self-aware, which means you won’t be at the mercy of the emotional state of the other person.
Your ability to build rapport with a wide range of people will set you apart from the crowd.
But fair warning!
People will seek you out.
Your influence will grow.
You’ll get asked to help mediate, resolve conflict, and show how you inspire others.
Just be sure you’re ready for all that attention.
Lynn Hauka teaches leaders to stop working their fingers to the bone yet still get great results, then she celebrates with them as they reclaim their personal life. If you’re ready to get your work and life back in balance, start by getting your free copy of 5 Calendar Hacks To Be More Productive Yet Leave Work On Time.