These days with the rampant use of social media, we seem to have forgotten how to make good impressions on each other when meeting in person. In the real world, there is no instant friend-ing, no shortcuts in conversation and no automatic “likes”. There is no keyboard, screen or photoshopped Instagram picture to hide behind. People don’t always speak their mind or express exactly what they think and how they feel.
But believe it or not, it is possible to make a good first impression, without pretending to be someone you aren’t, or something you’re not. To help you get it right the first time and help you make some real friends – not virtual ones – here’s 5 tips to make a lasting connection, the first time you meet.
Number 1: Don’t play with your phone
Seriously. I feel sad that I have to write this. It’s simply common courtesy and was very obviously common sense until smart phones took over the world. The digital age has increased our technological connectivity but has decreased our social connectivity (and I mean real-time social connectedness, not how many groups you belong to on WhatsApp). Don’t look at your pocket-device-of-choice while speaking with someone. That phone call can wait and the world won’t collapse if you don’t instantly message someone back. It makes your conversation partner feel like you’re not interested in them or what they’re saying. Resist the urge to “like” your sister’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s post on Facebook and look your companion in the eye. That is of course, unless they’re also in the middle of a social media text-fest. If so, chances are that they aren’t so interested in talking with you either…
Number 2: Repeat their name, at least twice during the conversation
Sound familiar? After introductions, it’s vital to try and work a new acquaintance’s name back into a couple of sentences. Firstly, it helps to cement their name in your memory. The next time you meet, you’re much more likely to make the connection. Thirdly, it helps keep you in focus by forcing you to use your brain while talking… a simple feat that most politicians have yet to achieve…
Number 3: Pay attention to body language – yours, not theirs
I cannot stress this one enough. Try to latch on to the details and see what you can pick up. We humans are actually very in tune with one another, and non-verbal cues can make or break a successful connection. The trick is to make sure that you are exhibiting positive body language in their direction. Are your feet turned towards them? Yes, and you’re interested in talking; no, and you’re subconsciously directing brain waves elsewhere. Are your arms folded across your torso or waist? Unless you’re freezing cold, you’re most likely not opening up or feeling free to be yourself in this discussion. Try to change the position of your arms, turn your torso to their direction and keep your eyes on their face. Channel interest and enthusiasm and that’s what you’ll receive in return.
Number 4: Listen to what they’re saying – no, really listen
And be smart about it. Don’t just nod your head and be submissive. Tune in to the topic on hand. Listen and then think before you respond. Many a good connection, or potential relationship, has been broken by bad advice, bad timing, or inappropriate responses. Avoid daydreaming or zoning out by changing your position, or stance, while the other is talking – a little physical activity will help keep you focused.
Number 5: Talk about them, not always about yourself
Put them first! By talking about how they feel or what they think, rather than talking about yourself, or saying what you think you should say the entire time, you’ll have a really interesting and thought-provoking conversation…something that will make you remember them, and make you memorable. For example, when comforting a mourner, don’t try to reassure them by saying, “It’s going to be okay.” Even if they logically know it, they’re grieving at the moment and saying something along those lines may make them feel like you’re over-simplifying the current depth of their feelings. Ask, “How does his/her passing make you feel?”
By following these tips, you will be well on your way to making a great first impression every time…and a lasting one at that.