“A first impression is a lasting impression. When we are out talking to a prospect about their business, it helps us to know what exactly it is that they do and how that affects their industry.” –Andrew Kaplan
If you were given the opportunity to turn back the cogs of time and meet a particular person for the first time once more, would you? In life, we are often told that first impressions rarely last, but if we are all making an honest assessment here, we do know that they are a pivotal aspect if a certain relationship
Humans are given the unique ability of communication where our thoughts and feelings are largely translated into words for communication. This gift of gab can either be a boon or bane to a particular individual, depending on how he or she manages to utilize it. How we communicate would have a great impact on how we experience our lives. It determines the course of our relationships and how far we will get in our careers. This is not only true if an individual is specializing in sales, but also rings true for the individuals who are looking to have a raise or is requesting a specific pecuniary consideration for the extra project he or she may be working in. There will be times wherein our inability to convey our thoughts and express ourselves would cause us to compromise existing relationships and aggravate conflicts instead of resolving them.
However, when it comes to making connections upon meeting persons of interest for the first time, there is an on and off chance that you would be successful in this endeavor. In the course of our life and through our habits, we may have picked up a multitude of various communication tactics we were misled to believe were good communication techniques. These very same techniques can be very detrimental in making potential connections as are they in ruining conversations. So, how do we rectify an established habit that has been cultivated for years? How do we reconcile a form of miscommunication formed by misguided precepts and notions we have falsely believed to be effective? And more importantly, how do we coach ourselves to be better communicators to those we have only met? Read down below to find out how.
1.) Your brain picks up on subtle cues
When you are talking, your subconscious is highly aware if whether or not people are interested in what you have to say. This is an effective defense mechanism against embarrassment and our brain will observe every little thing from facial gestures, body language and to words uttered. If you are listening to someone, your eyes should not stray for longer than a few seconds as this conveys genuine interest. Should your eyes be focused and fixated somewhere else, you are effectively telling the person talking to you that you are disinterested in the conversation. Have a good look of you listen to others by asking friends and family to observe you as you listen to them talk and have them give you a realistic assessment of how you are as a listener.
2.) Do not relate everything to you
The world clearly does not revolve and center around you so if you are engaged in a conversation with someone and they happen to be the one talking, let them talk without having you talking over them. In essence, this would mean that while they are talking, in no case should you interrupt and relate it to your own life. You may feel like you are enhancing a connection and in some cases, it is but only when done sparingly. But when it is overdone, you are giving off the impression that you want to dominate the conversation and you will be effectively conveying your rudeness to them. Should you want to establish a trusting relationship with someone, let them have the floor when it is their turn to talk and refrain from jumping in. This does not only interrupt their train of thought in the conversation but it will make them hesitant in talking at all.
3.) Watch for filler comments
These are those comments that make it seem like one is engaged in the conversation but is in fact, not. Some of you may have already experienced this when you are talking someone on the phone and have that someone reply in phrases that do not necessarily align with what you are saying. Token phrases such as “oh cool”, “hmmm”, “interesting”, “yeah”, etc. are subtle hints your listener is not as invested as you are in the story you are saying. Sure, they can make you seem like you are listening but it is very obvious as it is distracting. In a perpetually busy world, multi-tasking seems to be a second instinct to most of us however; this does not diminish the fact that what you are doing is disrespectful to others. As a golden rule, always remind yourself that you should listen to others the way you expect to be listened to.
4.) Do not pretend to know everything
No matter how knowledgeable and educated we claim to be, we should keep ourselves in check when we are talking to others. For many people—leaders most especially, it can be rather hard to take advice as they feel they should be doing the counseling and should be the one dishing out some guidance. For some, it is an incessant need to prove themselves so they shy away from exposing any of their weaknesses. Consider that if you truly want to connect with someone or influence them, title or experience is of little value but you should make these people feel like they are appreciated and respected. Make them feel important and do it genuinely and sincerely.
5.) Plan ahead
Obviously, the ease of gab is not a gift bestowed to everyone and there are still some of us who freeze up and clam up at the prospect of talking to someone new or we may find ourselves stuttering midway through conversations. If you happen to have this kind of trepidation when it comes to talking to people for the first time, it would be best if you planned your questions in advance. This is so you can put your mind at ease and get it out of your head, be confident and enjoy a natural free-flowing conversation. Ask the right questions by having three open-ended and thought-provoking questions for any situation you may be in. Remember to craft your questions in such a way that encourages your participant to talk but not invasive enough to make them stop and contemplate about their response.