“To be interesting, you have to be interested” – Dale Carnegie
During the first few minutes during the interaction, if you initiated the conversation you need to do most of the talking. You can’t put pressure on the other person too soon after just meeting them. They have to see that you are going to provide value to them. Value can be humor, knowledge, comfort etc. As time goes by through the interaction then you can start putting some of the interaction on them.
I have found a great way to achieve the first few moments of an interaction is to make statements and/or assumptions/guesses about the other person. A little like cold reading. People love to hear others opinion on them and are curious in some way, as well as talk about themselves. When you make a statement and educated guess about them, they may leave you clues. Whenever a person speaks to you, they leave clues about themselves. Its important to pay attention to the clues, then you won’t have to ask any questions to try and build rapport, but use statements. Questions can be leveraged to really connect with the other person and find out specific details on them.
As time goes by on the interaction is to connect on something you are both passionate about, or how you are alike. When I was in America I would see this a lot. People from the same country would hang out with each other, yet even if they lived close to each other back in there home town they would not spend time with each other. This shows that people like those that are like them and that you can relate to. The best way to relate to them is to see things from there point of view. Realise why they would do that, how they may feel about what they did and what type of person would do that. Figure out motivations and emotions for why they do what they do and the person they are and you will begin to understand them better and be able to connect more meaningful.
I try to keep a rule that after the opening question to begin the conversation, I like to stick to a 90/10 method. 90% are statements and cold reads, 10% questions. Although I may not hit that all the time, it helps me focus on not having to resort to questions to build rapport.
With any conversation with people you are close to, the conversation just flows, and questions are used sparingly. The key is when you use the questions, you make them count. The quality of the question can determine the conversation. Asking quality questions, that are different from the regular questions they may hear like “how are you” or “what do you do for work”. Avoid the generic questions, and don’t do what everyone else does. Its okay to keep a few good questions as scripts like your opening lines. Use questions sparingly and focus on the information you get from the person to use cold reading and/or statements back to them.
Here are some great questions I use to connect with others and to find more about them and what they are passionate about:
1. “what do you do when your not at work or at these events/doing this” (great for social gatherings, repetitive activities or events)
2. “what achievements recently have you been most proud of” (event based or professional setting)
The last part and what I see the most important is emotion. Connecting comes from emotions. People will most of the time forget what you spoke about but they will never forget about how they felt when speaking to you. When speaking its important to bring out emotions or feelings in the other person. They could be of confidence, achievements, romance, strength etc. If you create these emotions in the other person when you are around them, they will attach those feelings with you. The best way to bring these out is to find times in the past when they had these feelings or create a new experience with the person.
Everyone has something interesting/insightful about them. Be the sherlock Holmes to find out more about them, and do it by having a conversation and limiting the questions you ask. People want to share information about themselves, the key is to get them to be comfortable around you first and then they will open up.