I have so much to share about this and can honestly say we undervalue ourselves by refusing to just treat people for what they are…people! We are human beings, not human doings. As you reflect on the person you are being, consider if you are connecting as a human by being in sync with others, or do you connect mechanically in a more transactional way by going through the motion of a task, just doing it mechanically and without emotion.
In the programs I facilitate and in coaching conversations, the answers I often get is “it depends”. It depends on my mood, it depends on my energy level, it depends if I know them or not…yadah yadah yadah! Sounds like an excuse is made for the reason we are not being kind or caring in that moment. I am often quoted as saying we are 100% in control of what people think of us by how we choose to engage. Be intentional about making a great impression and leaving others feeling a bit better because you crossed their paths.
We do this by taking a genuine interest in who people are and what they do. What happens as a result of doing this is we are forcing ourselves to take the time to find out more about them. If we look, we will always find common ground. It could be as simple as both have kids that are the same age, or we enjoy similar interest like foodie groups and sports, or both are new to the city. This increases the likability factor from both sides AND since we initiated the interaction, we are developing our influence and leadership skills.
A simple example recently at our local grocery store. I asked Shantell for assistance. Where are the marshmallows please? She kindly referred me to aisle 6…and then said come, I will show you! Typically, we would walk to the isle and get the product and then I’d say thanks and be done with it. Not this time, you see Shantell took a genuine interest in me by asking: What are you needing these for? I said my girls want to make s’mores. She replied…great I love s’mores do you have crackers? I said I need those too. Her reply was you must get these graham crackers, the cinnamon and honey flavored ones are the best for s’mores. I did exactly what she suggested, and she left a great impression. About 3weeks later she recognized me, asked are you the gentleman who bought crackers for s’mores some time back? I replied yes, I am – she proceeded to ask how they tasted and we had a short conversation about that s’mores experience. This is what taking a genuine interest does. When we take an interest in others, they become more memorable, and we can build on the foundation of good relations and good will. Shantell is also more memorable to me and as a result I now prioritize shopping at the store she works at more often.
Being cordial is another truly effective way to win with people. There is a Chinese proverb that states “The scent of a rose is always left on the hand of the bearer.” This really is about developing our public presence, or charisma and charm if you will. Charisma is a learnable skill. Look at actors, royal family members and prominent public figures. They have learned how to engage the public. Often with the assistance of tutors and advisors. If they are being taught the skill, then we can also learn it right?
Consider how you interact as you walk pass people on the sidewalk or a greenway trail. Even if you are exercising in the week and are riding your mountain bike past a jogger, or another cyclist. What decision do you make in that moment? A simple statement of acknowledgment goes a long way. Good morning; or good afternoon; hey there; nice to be outside, isn’t it? Anything to acknowledge the other person, is better than just whizzing by them. In Zulu, the greeting sawubona literally means “I see you”. It goes beyond politeness and carries the importance of recognizing the worth and dignity of the person you are greeting.
Just this spring our family and I were walking at William B Umstead State Park. The trees were not quite green yet as we explore the park for our first time. There were many folks enjoying the park and we were pretty impressed with how many trails and bike paths there were. Caryn and I enjoyed the walk and as we came past other families and couples, we would politely greet them between the conversation we were having as a husband and wife. We came to a clearing and Caryn was on a video call sharing the beauty of the lake and I went to find a trash can for the empty water bottles I was holding. On route to this I crossed a couple who were walking in the opposite direction and greeted them. I discarded the bottles some 50 yards later, turned around and headed back to where my family were waiting for me. Then I heard a voice say…you’re from South Africa, I recognized the accent. Then his wife greeted me and introduced herself as Alétia who moved to the USA 29 years ago. Stephen introduced himself and shared that he was originally from New York. We ended up speaking in that spot for 30 minutes, exchanged numbers and have become pretty good friends over the last 6weeks or so. All because of a friendly greeting.
This is one of many examples that I can share. My business trips to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Our holidays at the beach, on a boat cruise. We have met people who have often commented on how much they appreciated how we made them feel. Such a simple thing, yet its results are profound.
Go out with an attitude of “How can I make the other person feel special today” and you find that you will win with people more often than not.
Neville De Lucia is a Business Coach, TEDx Speaker Coach and has a heart for developing the Youth. To work with Neville or to just have a conversation reach out and connect with him here.