As published in the Fall edition of the AZSAE Newsletter
In our increasingly fast-paced, technology-driven world, the opportunities and options of ways to communicate with each other are decreasing. Electronic communication seems to be the way in which we engage with others a majority of the time. It can be highly efficient and effective and therefore, abundantly necessary because we are moving at such a rapid pace. But what is lost in this automated system we have created to connect with others? Is it really necessary to have deeper connections with those we come in contact with throughout our business and social lives? If we do want to have significant, operative relationships in conjunction with savvy technology, it might be time to revisit The Basics. Here are just a few simple but effective ways to make associations with others and without a phone or computer.
Eye contact is a small piece of the whole concept of body language, which is a study in itself. It is important in improving our social skills to be adept at making eye contact. Determining how much eye contact to make can be tricky. Giving too much eye contact can be interpreted as staring and could likely be portrayed as creepy to the person to whom you are looking. If you don’t make eye contact while conversing, it seems like you are disinterested. To find that happy medium, a good tip is to follow the lead of the person with whom you are speaking. See how often the person looks away when he/she is talking. You don’t have to match that to a tee. But it will give you an idea with how much eye contact that person is comfortable, provided your converser is making some eye contact with you.
Be sure to smile. There are definitely health benefits to smiling. Having a happy expression on your face exudes confidence, helps to build delightful relationships with colleagues and business associates, and can assist one in being recognized in a positive light by employers. A true smile can be heard in your voice and seen in your eyes.
The handshake is another essential component when it comes to the basics. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Mama Bear’s bed was too soft. Have you ever had a too soft handshake? Find a friend and do a too soft handshake - fragile and maybe kind of yucky.
Moving on to Papa Bear’s bed – it’s too hard. The too hard handshake has two versions. There is the too hard of a squeeze handshake. Then there is the too hard of a shake handshake. Be careful when you practice this one. Don’t hurt your friend with your too hard handshake. If someone gives you this kind of handshake, instead of returning an equally hard handshake, just lose eye contact. This will end the handshake.
Now, remember what Baby Bear’s bed is? Yep, it’s just right. The just right handshake is firm and radiates conviction. When a handshake is just right, two other things happen – you smile and you make eye contact.
Another skill to master to show how much you care and to make others feel cared for is to learn and remember names. There are several techniques to use. Try these tips next time you make a new acquaintance.
- Use the person’s name throughout the conversation. When you learn the person’s name, attach it to your greeting, “Hi Jennifer, it’s nice to meet you,” for example. Be sure to repeat the name when it makes sense in the conversation and definitely when you say goodbye.
- Spelling out the name can be helpful to the visual learner. Gaining a business card and making some notes about what you talked about or a visual cue can be of assistance in remembering the person’s name.
- Association techniques may also work for you. Think of an image tied to a person’s name for a future reference. Something like Benjamin has a burly beard; or Mary likes margaritas. A variation on this is to make a connection with someone you already know with the same name. For example, Don is tall like my Uncle Don and of similar age to my Uncle Don.
The investments necessary to be successful at remembering names are focus, practice and time. The payoff is a step up to building strong relationships. The old show “Cheers” had the best theme song to illustrate the power of remembering names because “you want to go where everyone knows your name.”
While we need the efficiency of virtual communication, making that long-term, meaningful connection requires some face to face time. Take time to revisit and develop The Basics.