Before I get to the point of this post — tips on how to connect with anyone — I want to share a story with you.
Back when I was in university, a friend told me a mutual acquaintance had asked about me. But not in a good way.
“What’s with Keith?” she asked him. “He seems so unfriendly. Even though we went to the same high school, he doesn’t say ‘hi’ or smile when we cross paths. He must think he’s better than anyone else.”
She thought I was arrogant. In fact, I was a shy introvert who didn’t know how to connect with people.
I’m still an introvert. Connecting with new people can be exhausting for me. What’s different is that I’ve learned skills that help me connect with anyone. While my quiet introversion used to come off as arrogance, now I can sometimes fool people into thinking I’m an extrovert.
Here are two tips to help you learn how to connect with anyone.
1. Flash a genuine smile
In the book How To Talk To Anyone, author Leil Lowndes spends the first nine chapters focusing on body language, what she calls “how to look like a somebody.”
And her first and foremost body language tip is about smiling.
Smiling is also one of the six techniques Dale Carnegie prescribes in his 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.
When you smile at someone, the “threat” part of the recipient’s brain slows down and the”connection” part of the brain speeds up. When I didn’t smile at that young woman in university, I came across as threatening.
But it can’t be just any smile. If someone is faking a smile we can detect it and our “threat” synapses keep firing.
Lowndes prescribes what she calls a “flooding smile.” Here’s how it works. Don’t instantly smile when you see someone. Instead, take a moment to connect with that person by looking them in the face. If you do, a warm, responsive smile will “flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.”
2. Talk about the other person
We all know someone who only wants to talk about himself or herself. Tell him a story about something that happened to you, he’ll counter with something that happened to him. Had a bad day? Hers was worse. Accomplished something amazing? You can be sure that person has done it before, only ten times better.
Is this someone we’re attracted to spend time with? Not at all.
The people we want to spend time with are people who seem interested in spending time with us.
If you look at Carnegie’s six ways to make people like you almost all of them are about paying attention to the other person. Here’s the full list:
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely
What’s not on this list? Bragging, boasting, criticizing and complaining. You know why? Because people don’t actually care how great you are; what really matters to them is how great you think they are. So if you want to drive people away, talk about your accomplishments. If you want to connect with them, ask them about theirs.
What about you? What’s worked best for you in connecting with others?