The importance of the instant connection is enormous – it’s that pesky little thing called the first impression.
It’s important because it forever influences the way people see you and interpret your actions. Everything is through the lens of that first impression. If you make a bad impression, people will be surprised and shocked that you helped an old lady across the road or donated to charity. If you make a good impression, people assume the world of you and you will receive the benefit of the doubt every time.
People will have their assumptions about you, and each action will prove to further confirm it. So, what can we do to make our first impressions flawless, and make sure we can connect instantly with strangers, dogs, babies, kangaroos, and even old friends?
Social cues are what we really want to say to people, but don’t want to. They are physical manifestations of how we truly feel inside – they are subtle and they can be sneaky, but the better you can see them, the better you can understand the read people.
This section could be an entire book, so let’s focus on one type of social cue you should be on the lookout for. Whatever someone is saying, disregard it. Look at their body.
Despite what people’s words are, or how interested they appear to be, what direction is their body pointing or moving in? If someone’s toes and shoulders are square to you, that’s a good indication they are actually interested and not seeking another option to interact with. However, if they are actively moving away and increasing the distance from you, there aren’t many other ways to interpret that – they want to get away from you, politely.
If they are opening a door, closing a window, turning their body to another direction, inching away, picking something up, trying to engage in someone or something else… You might be out of luck. They are less interested in continuing the interaction, and are signaling that subtly.
These cues aren’t easy to catch because they occur simultaneous to what appears to be a normal conversation. This means you actually have two tasks: processing the conversation and responding appropriately, and being on the lookout for social cues.
There are only so many reasons we partake in social conversations. One prevailing reason is to feel good about oneself and gain social approval and social validation. People are selfish, self-important, and self-absorbed. We have to be, because no one else is affected by our actions. Once we know what people are after, it’s relatively easy to formulate a strategy to create that outcome for them.
One of the best ways to make people feel validated is to ask for their advice and opinions in a calculated way.
In other words, you can make an expert out of someone. All this requires is a passing knowledge about someone’s interests or areas of expertise. For instance, if you know someone skies twice a year, or has gone skiing in the past month, you can consider that an area of expertise for your purposes here.
Then ask questions only they can answer. You’re treating them as someone with specialized knowledge and allowing them to educate you. You are giving them the spotlight and making them feel important and intelligent. This doesn’t work when you speak about the weather because it’s an inherently boring topic, and it’s a topic anyone on the street could talk about.
I wonder what they are like?
This completely sidesteps the notion of connecting just for connecting’s sake, which can feel forced and manipulative. When you start to wonder about the other person, it changes your perspective on them completely.
You start to actually care and grow curiosity about them. Not only their shallow traits, such as their occupation or how their day is going, but what motivates them and what makes them act in the way they do.
Having a sense of wonder and curiosity about someone is one of the most powerful mindsets because it makes you want to scratch your itch. Scratching the itch of curiosity will become secondary to everything else because you simply want to know about the other person.
You are going to skip the small talk interview questions and get right down to the details because it’s what you care and wonder about. Keeping the mindset of wonderment and curiosity will completely change the way you interact with people because you will suddenly care, and much of the time, we don’t notice that we don’t care about the person we are talking to.
For more on electric connections, check out Connect Instantly: 60 Seconds to Likability and More Friends