1. Hark! Who goes there?
Here he comes, it’s Mr. Friendly! As he tries to start a conversation you feel awkward, possibly even uncomfortable. This is because you don’t know when or if the conversation will end.
The first step in the process to hitting it off with anyone is to ease their “how-long-do-I-have-to-talk-to-this-stranger” fear. This is because we are wired to assess strangeness as a threat (friend or foe?). So first off, lower the perceived risk to a stranger.
This is a pretty simple one. You want to look non-threatening. The number one nonverbal technique to look friendly is to smile. Adding a slight head tilt shows the other person that you have comfort with them and trust them (you’ve seen your dog do this). Another nonverbal to try and maintain is a slightly lower chin angle. High chin angles make someone feel like you’re looking down at them.
Avoid standing toe to toe with someone. An accommodating handshake is one that matches the strength of the other, and also takes more of a palm up angle.
3. Slow it down.
Speaking fast may mean you’re excited (expressives you know who you are). It may even mean that you know what you’re talking about. However speaking slowly gives you more credibility.
4. Can you help me?
Think about the last time you asked for help or been asked to provide it. As human beings, we are biologically conditioned to accommodate requests for assistance. The compulsion is based upon the fact that our ancient ancestors knew that if they did not provide assistance when asked, the assistance would not be granted to them if requested at a later date. Starting a conversation or weaving into your conversation a simple request may help you hit it off.
5. A servants heart.
Put the other persons’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own and reap the rewards. The client might really want and believe they can afford that waterfront home. Regardless of what you think, a good conversationalist would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her dream, neglecting their own need to share what they think about it. Maybe ultimately landing the two of you in escrow on a house just up the hill with a great view and dock access.
6. “Be” with the other person.
“Being” (which means not doing) frees you to connect.
True listening coupled with a servants heart means that you have no story to offer and no agenda; that you are there simply to hear theirs. Also when the focus is on the other person and we’re not anxious to tell our own story, we remember the details. It’s easy to remember names, hobby’s and all kinds of information about acquaintances when we listen.
“… few people naturally use this to its fullest potential, and, most of the time, we don’t realize when it is being used; all we know is we really like the person who gives it.”
Demonstrate thoughtfulness, but you can only be thoughtful if you listened in the first place.
Validate Thoughts and Opinions
The best way to get someone to do what you want them to do is to have them come up with the idea. The best way to have them come up with your idea is, no surprise, to honestly understand the other person’s point of view and then build upon that base with your ideas. Taking this back to our client who wants to live on the water you could ask, what do you like most about the idea of living on the water? They might say the sunset, at which point after running scenarios might come up with the idea that they can get the same sunset for 100k less, just up the hill.
7. Begin your questions with … How? When? Why?
These are called open-ended questions because it’s hard to answer these questions with a simple yes or no. Then continue to ask open ended questions about the same content. The entire time, the individual being targeted is the one supplying the content of the conversation. You’re not thinking about what you’re going to say next. You’re not thinking about how the person is wrong. If you’re really listening then asking open ended questions based on the content of what they are saying should be pretty easy.
8. You may have to show your cards.
Sometimes when you attempt to converse with someone who is very guarded or when the person you are conversing with suddenly becomes very aware about how much they have been speaking, and they suddenly feel awkward. In both instances, giving a little information about you will help move the conversation forward.
9. Complimentary conversation.
Great shoes! Where did you get them? This shop on main street. Oh you’re from around here? and so it goes..
10. Manage Expectations
Regardless of the situation, whether it is an altruistic intention or not, there is an agenda. Shift the agenda to something altruistic (like helping people, after all that’s why we are good at our jobs, we give people what they want!) and you will have great success at building rapport.