Connecting with people brings infinite rewards. When we make connections with people we are stimulating our brains gray matter; the brain grows and flourishes when it’s making new connections. This doesn’t mean hanging out with the same old crowd week after week; it means getting out and making new friends.
We also benefit from people emotionally; we are not closed, self-regulated systems, but rather open loops regulated, encouraged, supported, and validated by the emotional feedback we receive from others. We use the emotional input of other humans as much as we do the air we breathe and the food we eat; deprive us of emotional and physical contact and we will wither and die. We need each other; we need love.
To be successful connecting with new people, likability works because when people like you, they feel natural and comfortable around you; when people are at ease with you, they will give you their attention and open up to you. Likability has something to do with how you look but a lot more to do with how you make people feel. Likable people give loud and clear signals of their willingness to be sociable. Nicholas Boothman’s book, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds, concisely explains the life skills you can use to be likable and make natural connections with other people.
Nothing says more than the amount of energy you give off in the first few seconds of meeting someone. Be the first to smile, the first to extend your hand, the first to make eye contact, and the first to identify yourself if you are meeting for the first time. Check to make sure your body language is open, your heart is aimed at the other person, and your attitude is positive. The final action is to lean in toward the other person to indicate your warmth and interest.
Rapport is the establishment of common ground, of a comfort zone where two people can mentally join together. People with common interests experience a natural rapport; that is why you get along so well with your close friends. The way to establish rapport with strangers is to reduce the distance and differences by finding common ground; you must become the adapter to become like the other person.
It all starts with your attitude. Your attitude controls your mind, and your mind delivers your spoken words, voice tone, and facial as well as body language. The quality of your attitude determines the quality of the signals you transmit. Your body language, which includes your posture, gestures, and facial expressions, accounts for half of what other people respond to and make assumptions about; in other words, most people form opinions visually. Sound, or the tone of your voice, makes up most of the balance of how people form opinions about you. Consider only 7 percent of what we respond to are the words that are actually spoken.
People like people like themselves; we like, trust, and feel comfortable with people who are just like us. So to build rapport with others, we must synchronize ourselves with the conduct of others; we must adjust to their emotional feedback. The quickest way to accomplish this is to adopt the same attitude, overall body language, and voice tone – mirror body movements, gestures, tilts and nods of the head; return smiles and wide-eyed surprises; synchronize the tone and volume of your voice as well as the speed of your speech. Synchronizing is a way to make the other person become open, relaxed, and happy to be with you.
Conversation is how we open people up to see what’s inside; and questions are the spark plugs of conversation. Be aware, however, to use open ended questions that require the other person to talk. Open questions begin with one of six words: Who? When? What? Why? Where? How? You can boost these conversations further by adding sensory –specific verbs: see, tell, and feel – “tell me why…” “How do you feel about….” “Where do you see yourself….” Your goal is to search for common interests and other stepping stones to building rapport. Many times gathering information can be successfully accomplished by first offering information about yourself; you can use information about yourself to broaden and deepen rapport.
Listening is the other side of the conversation coin. Active listening is an active attempt to grasp and understand the facts and the underlying feelings of what is being said. You can show how much you understand by giving the appropriate feedback. Listen with your eyes; listen with your body; nod your head; look at the person; keep your stance open and leaning forward; encourage the other person verbally; ask clarifying questions.
One of our priorities in life should be to connect with people. Don’t ignore this important part of your life! Set time aside to get out and practice these exercises.
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