10 ways to connect with anyone you meet

20 April 2020

Although we are meeting less people because of social distancing, Julie Colonna, BA English Language and Literature student shares some skills that are applicable online too.

Two people sharing coffee over a table

1. Trust yourself

If you are easily anxious or an over-thinker, it’s easy to get in your head. Since we are all social distancing at this time, this skill can be worked on from home: meditation is a great way to steer away from self-criticism.

2. Listen

Actually listen. Have your phone face down or away from you. Encourage people to talk about themselves by asking questions.

3. Eye-contact

If you really can’t, look at the base of their forehead: it’s difficult to tell the difference.

4. Remember — and use — their name

If you aren’t great at remembering, keep using their name throughout the conversation so that it’s embedded in your mind. If their name is difficult to pronounce, don’t be embarrassed to ask them to teach you how to say it correctly rather than resorting to a nickname.

5. Talk about their interests

This does not mean obsessively scour their social media — this means find one thing they are passionate about and read up on it prior to your conversation.

6. Body language

Mirroring someone’s body language is a great hack. You can also try nodding along to them, this will encourage them to do the same and it’s a great way to show them that you are sincerely interested and paying attention to them. I struggle with shaking when I’m especially uneasy — wriggling my toes is the best remedy (just avoid wearing shoes where you can see your toes, as a result).

7. Open-up, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

This gives them permission to do the same with you.

8. Smile

We often say yawning is contagious, but so is smiling.  ‘The effect of a smile is powerful — even when it is unseen. Telephone companies throughout the United States have a program called “phone power” which is offered to employees who use the telephone for selling their services of products. In this program they suggest that you smile when talking on the phone. Your “smile” comes through in your voice’ - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People; Pocket Books, p.68.

9. Use more assertive language

Instead of saying ‘Could I call you to discuss?’ say ‘We should have a phone-call to discuss this’. Instead of ‘I’m sorry I was late to this Skype meeting’, say ‘Thank you for waiting’. (I’m personally not great at this — practice makes perfect!)

10. Pay them a genuine, unique compliment

There’s a reason you want to ‘connect’ with this person, think about what you admire about them and tell them. Why is ‘unique’ important in a compliment? If someone is exceptionally talented at playing the guitar, they’ve probably been complimented about that repeatedly, so your compliment gets drowned. Try complimenting the skill that allowed them to be such a skilled guitar player: maybe they are really patient or rigorous.

Julie Colonna, BA English Language and Literature