Updated: Jan 6, 2019
Right now, off the top of your head. Think about 5 people you genuinely like. Maybe they are a close friend, family member, colleague, mentor, lover, whatever. What is it that you like about them?
When you sit and try and list all of the reasons why you like them, do any of these thoughts come up?
- they make me laugh
- they make me feel good about myself
- they remember things about me
- they give me good advice
- they have my best interest at heart
- they are compassionate
- they show interest in my life
- they listen
Any of these statements sound familiar when describing these people?
In today's world, we are so "connected" yet so "disconnected" at the same time. We have become so lazy as a species since the inception of the "smart phone" that we don't even need to remember an important phone number, birthday or fact about someone as there is always the "back up" memory drive in our smart phone devices and social media apps to do the remembering and reminding for us. It actually takes a lot of time and effort to remember the people we meet, the meaningful moments, and important data as we just don't HAVE to remember anymore since our devices do this for us. Sure, we have gained a lot in the last ten years, but what have we lost in return?
Whenever I meet someone in a social setting, I instantly envy anyone who makes small talk look so easy, and better yet, I am blown away when someone recognizes or remembers me. They are confident, smart, and know everyone in the room. People genuinely want to be around them. This is a trait that I aspire to continually work on as I have seen this through the way in which my Poppa used to meet or interact with strangers or acquaintances in a public setting.
What made him memorable, likeable and genuine? He took the time to get to know these people, remember them, acknowledge them and listen. Listening and paying attention is key. Do you ever notice when you meet someone and they introduce themselves that as soon as their name leaves their mouth, you forget it? When you meet them again, you panic and either a) pretend like you never met b) pretend like you remember them, when you actually don't c) feel embarrassed that they remember so much about you, but you have nothing to offer. How much more likeable, memorable and relatable do you think you would be if you actually took the time to study and remember the people you meet?
About 4 years ago I took a course called Effective Communications and Human Relations/Skills for Success. This course followed the thought and teachings behind Dale Carnegie's work in human relationship and communication. Dale Carnegie came up with Six Ways to Make People Like You, and it is easier and more natural than you think. It just comes down to giving a damn and doing the work.
I have taken the time in the last few weeks to brush up on my communications skills as I have been more involved in networking and business events, and I have become quite insecure with myself, and meeting others. I have lost the beauty of practicing these skills, and I have lost my ability to feel confident and approachable in these situations. I have taken the time to reflect below on each point to better help you as well to use these skills to help you too in social and business situations.
1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
The next time you are in conversation with someone, try as hard as you can not to give an opinion, share your experience or turn the conversation towards you. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Listen to their stories about their new business venture, vacation plans, wedding ideas, kid drama, work problem, etc. Ask questions, provide feedback, relate and remember it. The next time you meet that person in a social situation, imagine how much they would feel appreciated if you remembered that small tidbit of a conversation you had a few months prior. They would instantly feel like you cared, listened and that they mattered to you.
Next time you are at a networking event, on the street, in the hallway in your office, smile at someone and see what happens. Most people usually look to the floor or to their phones and hide in fear of making eye contact, or having a forced conversation. But for the second time, stop thinking about yourself. When you smile, you are more approachable, seem friendly and seem like you are open for conversation. As we know, smiling is contagious, so rather than frowning or hiding away in your phones, smile, open up yourself to be approached and engage in conversation. Human connection is so important.
3. Remember that a persons name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
How do you feel when someone remembers your name? You instantly feel important, remembered and worthy. When meeting someone, make a mental note to repeat yourself, associate them with someone else you know with the same name, a celebrity, a friend, a family member. This is a great way to remember their name as soon as you see them. The association you made will come to mind. Another great tip is to rhyme it with something else. Do not be afraid to ask someone for the right pronunciation, as there is nothing worse than someones name being mispronounced.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
When meeting someone for the first time, we all fear the awkward moment when after the "what is your name, what do you do" questions are finished, where do you go from there? The best thing to do is ask more questions about the other person. Don't wait for the other person to talk, take the lead and listen. We all know that everyone loves to talk about themselves, so just continue to ask them more about their hobbies, interests, vacation plans, family life, etc and you will see how much further the conversation goes.
5. Talk in terms of the other persons interests.
This is a great way to make someone feel comfortable around you. Even if you don't particularly like their interests, it is a great way to make them feel like their interests and hobbies are important and worthy. This also is a great way for you to learn more about a hobby or interest you don't particularly like or understand. Being open to caring about someone else's likes, is a great way for you to be seen as open minded and considerate.
6. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
A great way to do this is when introducing them to someone else, highlight their accolades, promotion, job, hobbies, interests etc. This is a great way to make them feel accomplished and appreciated without them having to say these things to other people. It also shows that you value and acknowledge their successes and that you see them as important as well.
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