As an addition to the article I wrote for MMC and ‘The Vine’, here’s 10 things you can practice to help you develop flexibility and social skill… For the original article see here.
In your head-
- Assume every person you meet is important, and treat him or her as such.
- Remember that angry and unhelpful people are that way for a reason. They’re not bad people. How would you feel if your partner had left you, or your mother had just been diagnosed with a terrible disease?
- Remember that all people have strengths and skills that you don’t have, and notice and acknowledge other people’s strengths and accomplishments.
In your physical presence-
- Take the lead, and shake hands, when you meet people. This simple act takes all of their tension about ‘do I or don’t I’ away.
- Say something sincere while doing so. ‘Lovely to meet you’ is so much warmer than ‘hello’.
- Keep an open body posture, and don’t get too close to the other person, or stand too far away- a handshake’s distance is perfect.
- Stand taller and a little more ‘planted’ than your natural ‘slouch’ because it makes you look and feel more confident.
In your conversation-
- Be genuinely interested in those around you. Find out who they are, what they do, where they live, what they like. It’s amazing how much a ‘stranger’ will tell a good listener, and it will always help you make a positive impression.
- Pick up on the other person’s ‘conversational cues’. If they mention family, ask a little more; if they mention hobbies, ask about them. Be ‘led’ by your new friend and offer conversational ‘strokes’ to encourage them– ‘sounds fascinating, tell me more’.
- Listen and interrupt only to give them a ‘stroke’, or ask a deeper question.
- Take the time to remember people’s names, and use them when you say goodbye. But don’t overdo its use in the general conversation, as it sometimes sounds fake.
- Make respectful eye-contact as you chat, try noticing the colour of people’s eyes as you speak to them, it gives them the sense that you’re really listening.
- Notice what people are wearing, how they wear their hair, their bags, watches, jewellery, and shoes. People make careful choices about what to wear, and like gentle ‘strokes’ now and then on the choices they made.
- Be thoughtful in what you wear. Be just a little smarter or more casual than the other people in the room. Remember that it’s generally poor etiquette to be much better or much worse dressed than your hosts. If in doubt ask for advice before the event.
After meeting them-
- Look for opportunities to keep in touch. A ‘thank you’ note or email, a clipping from the press or web that might interest them.
- Keep on keeping in touch occasionally- every couple of months, dropping down to a couple of times a year if you get no response.
- If people don’t reply, it means they’re busy, it’s not a comment on whether they like you or not.
When we do these simple things, we notice our increasing social confidence and the better responses from the people that we meet. That in turn leads us to more confidence in every walk of life.
If you’ve a brilliant mind, personal impact helps you share it with empathy for others. If you’re a salesperson, you’ll sell more, and better for longer, to clients that won’t want to see you go. And if you’re a lawyer, it will help you build relationships with colleagues, clients and adversaries, and make you all the more influential, directly because you have impact on a human level when you walk into a room, however challenging the task.