That awkward moment after you say ‘hello’
Its all about connections.
So is the operations of your brain, in what is called the connectome.
In my years as owner and manager of my family gym for seven years, many things contributed to having a ‘family’ culture within it. A big factor came down to not just the connections but the quality of connections. Between the members and most importantly me and the members and the various sub-groups within the membership.
It was akin to being the Prime Minister and leader of a party, with many factions within that party and also the existence of an powerful opposition leader and his party. An interesting, fulfilling and wonderful learning experience.
Whenever a new person walks in to the gym, I train my staff to greet them politely and to simply say “how can I help you?” What I find is the important moments following that initial interaction is that awkward moment after you say ‘hello’.
Three minutes too late
We’ve all been there.
With the potential friend or the new boss. Your brother’s new girlfriend or just an attractive stranger at a party. I guess from my perspective there are two scenarios with social situations –
- Make a good first impression
- Just want to be liked
Three minutes too late or so following that awkward interaction that we reflect on and feel and think of what we should have said, instead of what we had said.
Would you take a magic pill if it would get your through that awkward phase after saying hello? Would you take it?
Have you drifted off after meeting someone for the first time?
What do you do? I think we all have found ourselves in situations, supposedly in deep conversation but we’re no longer listening to the other person and generally start talking to ourselves.
We basically, start drifting off.
Thinking thoughts like –
“What on earth was he thinking combing his hair into that hairstyle?”
“Am I making a positive first impression?”
“what am I going to take for lunch tomorrow?”
“geez, what’s that song’s name you hear on the radio this morning?”
“who the person you came with is talking to”
The power of Focus
In my experience with owning and managing a gym for seven years and managing the relationships I had with the members in that time, there were many variables but I believe the key was focus.
The power of focus, in particular.
I interacted with members and listened to and talked to members from 5:30am when the gym opened all day until the gym closed at 9:00pm. When I was there, I was there. I was present. In every interaction I had with each and every member, I gave them my full attention (even when I was talking to multiple people).
The most important key to building rapport and trust in any relationship with someone … with anyone is focus.
That is the Power of focus.
This really helps in “connecting” with people – giving them the respect they wish for and giving them our full attention, however difficult that may be.
The power of focus allows you to achieve results that you strongly desire. My power of focus allowed me to reach and place in the Top 5 of the World in Natural Bodybuilding in two consecutive years. Here’s a little formula for you: –
** Focus (mind-set/attitude) + Effort (hard yaka/work) + heart (feel) + visualisation (imagination) + sumulation (deliberate practice) =====> put in to a quality plan + quality implementation ====>> Results/Success **
Here are 4.5 key things I use when I want to focus on the person I am with –
1). Don’t judge
I just don’t have a habit of judging people. Period. I leave that to God, that is not one of my roles. However, I don’t mind a good debate and agreeing to disagree after hearing what the other person has to say first.
Putting aside any preconceptions and biases in thinking and having an “open mind-set/growth mind-set”, I allow the person I’m with to experience total focus.
2)Find the excitement in someone even when they appear to be ‘boring’
Yes, this can be very difficult. Very difficult indeed. Especially, when you find yourself thinking about what you’re going to be having for your next meal or the episodes you still have left to watch on Netflix Game of Thrones.
All you can do is – try. Just try.
Give them your full attention and listen, really ‘listen’. What I mean is listen not only with your ears but your body (facing the person), your hand gestures not crossed, your head and eyes looking in to the person. And your heart, your heart should be listening too.
Then, find out something about the person that you find exciting and ask them, and hope that they would love to talk about that thing too.
Try. For God’s sake, just try.
3) Be part of the action and conversation
Especially in a group situation – ask questions about what happened and who was involved and what fears were felt and so forth.
Don’t stay silent, even if you have to nod your head, say a few ‘ahums’ and basically put forward a body-language that is agreeable.
It pays off in the long run.
Try to mirror or match the other person you’re talking with.
What is it, well, in effect, matching or mirroring is doing the same as the other person. This could be the same body language – she raises her glass and so does everyone else or same nod of the head.
Mirroring doesn’t only include body language, we also make similar sounds – sort speak in harmony with the other person, like “aha … aha, yeah” when we hear them say it.
So, in this world that has multiple communication platforms and social media that allows for increased connections, … is increasingly built on connections, it is not the number of connections that matter or continuously creating more connections in your network. No, I believe it is the quality of connections that matter most.
It is about getting back to the basics and doing the basics properly. Reminds me of building and keeping quality lean muscle mass and training with the basics in the gym. Nothing fancy and not trying to include every new ‘fad’ exercise in your repertoire’.
Whether consciously or not, and it is usually “not”, when we are connecting with someone or keen to get on with them, we adopt similar postures and movements. And when this happens the other person is more likely to assume that our thoughts and emotions are similar so they tend to feel warmer towards us, almost regardless of what we are actually saying.
I experienced this every single day in the gym for the seven years that I owned and managed my own. It didn’t matter who it was, how old the person was, level of education or what level of society they came from, matching and mirroring body language helped me ‘connect’ with them better.
Don’t force it, just ‘go with the flow’ so-to-speak. And relax, don’t over do things.
You’ll be just fine.
Practice does not make perfect
No, Perfect practice makes perfect, was what one of my early coaches would tell me.
In other words, there is always an optimal way or right way of doing something very well. Understand what it is, learn it and then deliberately practice it – that way – ALL the time.
Not some of the time.
So, practice some of these key communication points in the mirror. Do it every day. Simulate some of the conversations you may have with people in social situations. Imagination is key … if you can ‘see’/imagine yourself doing something and acting in a certain way and you have practiced the right form/technique/way, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will make a great first impression and make a lot of connections.
Simply because people will be drawn to you and your mannerism.
First impressions, matter. Remember: You never get another chance to make a first impression.
All the very best,
Cheers & Ahoy!
The Old Captain Viking Pirate … & why first impression is important in making you connect better.