Living in London I benefit from one of the most polite cultures anywhere but one of the drawbacks is that many people will not initiate a conversation.
This is fine when you’re stuck on the tube, tired and sweaty and want to be left alone but it is often not helpful – especially in business, sales and in networking environments. Too many people don’t know how to start a conversation or worse end one! Lots of awkward moments, long pauses and content that make your listen wonder if you have had a brain injury. Salespeople who start into a pitch out of the blue are my particular annoyance.
I like to talk but actually I am quite an introvert. I like my time alone and never get lonely. I can spend the entire day not speaking to a single soul (although that rarely happens) and be quite content. I do, however, like to be social and have learned what works, what really works!
I can truthfully say that I have learned to comfortably speak to anybody, anywhere from well-dressed women in Kensington to the homeless person asking for money on the street. The same holds true whether speaking to one person or one thousand people – I am always relaxed and comfortable. I really like people!
This was not always the case and before I understood these three little secrets meeting new people, networking events and public speaking was often a real challenge. Not anymore!
I promise you that these three tips will improve your results with everyone and with a little practice you will find people are drawn to you everywhere.
Even though I have spent my entire working life selling I have often struggled with awkward approaches and a fear of all of the things that could go wrong. Until I learned these three secrets my success was hit and miss and I struggled with uninteresting people and situations. I faked it successfully – which really means I failed at connecting to most people.
Sound like you? Try these three steps!
Secret One: Stop thinking about yourself!
There are many reasons we think about ourselves when we are with other people and they all have to do with insecurity. You’re great! You really are! I am being trite you really are great. You have done many great things, care about other people, hope the best for yourself and for those close to you, and probably pay most of your taxes – what’s not to love?
It is our silly insecurities that keep us focused on ourselves, and guess what? That is really boring. The human brain is incredible and it is the most complicated structure on the planet but we can only consciously think of one thing at a time. When we spend our time with others but thinking about ourselves we become shy, nervous, self-conscious and really boring!
If we turn our attention completely (yes, completely) to the person in front of us guess what happens? The nerves disappear, our energy increases, and we become interested and interesting!
Secret Two: Remove All Judgment
This actually become pretty easy once we stop thinking about ourselves. In fact, if our entire attention is on another person we do not have the mental capacity to judge – again we can only have one thought. We are all made up of bits of carbon and were all part of star at one point. In other words, we are all made from the same stuff and none of us is better than anyone else – not really. So, let go of the judgment, the prejudices, and the thoughts of superiority or insecurity. Think of the person next to you as a cousin – maybe richer or poorer but very much like you.
Once we remove judgment then we will find that we are not thinking that they are worse or better – just two human beings with a smile and a few thoughts to share. Relax – it’s just your cousin!
Secret Three: Make it all about them
People are great and everyone has a story. When you approach someone start with a warm sincere smile and ask how they are doing – mean it and pay close attention to the answer. Most conversations will take off from a sincere start just fine and will move on quite naturally. If you make it all about them they will open up comfortably and start to share. You see, not many people are really interested in other people and when it happens it makes us feel great. We are drawn to people that like us and find us interesting.
Don’t ask what their job is rather pay attention to how they present themselves and see if you can figure out what’s important to them. Are they wearing a pin, a ring, an interesting tie, or do they have a tattoo? Ask opened ended questions that are only directed to understanding them better. Forget any agenda you have (that is about you not them) and make it about them and in time the conversation will come back around to you and what is important to you – we get what we give.
Ever wonder what happened to your marriage?
When you met your spouse you were blinded by attraction (hormones) and only saw them – the real them. All of their silly jokes seemed charming and you didn’t notice their bad habits. If we are very lucky this lasts a lifetime but usually it lasts between three and twelve months and then wears off and we start to focus on ourselves. Once we focus on ourselves we begin to judge them and once this happens everything changes.
The same thing happens with the new job, the new car and the new house. When we focus on ourselves everything else become much less interesting and we become less interesting people.
Use these three techniques and you will become richer, more liked, your calls will be put through, doors will open, and you will be seen as a special, charismatic person. You see we always end up with more of what we give away!