When people meet they give and receive energy. This is our "connection". Whether you speak to one person, five, 100 or 1000, how you manage this energy is what leads to further connections -or not. So, what kind of energy do you give off?
Can you recall meeting someone and not ever wanting to see them again? Have you met someone you immediately liked and wanted to spend more time with them? Can you distinguish what happened in each situation?
Here are two experiences I've had that might remind you of some you've had.
Recently I had to visit two health professionals; an oral surgeon - yuck and a dermatologist (very expensive).
Larry the oral surgeon had someone escort me to his
examining room and stayed with me while I waited for him. He then appeared smiling, warm and attentive. He asked me what I needed and let me talk until I was done. He made eye contact. He took his time. I felt he cared and was really listening to me.
Joe, the dermatologist, had me wait by myself until he arrived. I don't mind that as I'm used to it. Although I have to admit, the attendant in Larry's office was a nice person who seemed interested in my concerns.
When Joe walked into the examining room, he said hello and
kept looking at his notes. When we talked he wasn't listening to me, he was more interested in the notes. When he did look up, I felt he was not really seeing me. He never made eye contact. When he examined me the energy I got from him, was that I was a thing, not a person.
Where is your focus, your attention, when you speak to someone?
The first and most important element of making a good impression is LISTENING
and the second is SMILING. That's what Larry did. Let's start with LISTENING. It requires a number of tools actors use constantly. And here are three important elements you should use to connect to others.
a) BEING PRESENT
- and this means really, deeply aware of the other person (the color of their voice, the energy coming from their being, the relaxed or uncomfortable zings you're getting from them, the eye communication that is there or not, the body language and more). You see if actors take their attention away from their acting partner, something could happen that the audience sees and they don't and it makes them look stupid. The stage is under a giant microscope where everything is seen so the actors up there better be very very present with their fellow actors and with the audience.
b) BEING SILENT.
Wait to hear what the other person will say next. Give them a few extra seconds so they can gather their thoughts to form their words. We jump in because we're in a hurry or want to make an impression when the other person hasn't really finished. Silence gives us a chance to hear them more deeply. Silence gives them a chance to see us. Silence means you are both okay taking time to be with each other. That's a gift.
c) PUTTING YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES.
Listening requires you empathize with them. Even if this is your 100th client, remember what it's like to have their concerns, and their feelings around that. They have never heard your information before. They want to absorb it. Take your time.
The second element of making a good impression is SMILING.
Forget forcing a smile. It doesn't work. Everyone can see what it is. The smile has to be connected to your body, just as your words need to be authentic and yours.
When actors have to be in a love scene with someone they don't care that deeply about, they find something about their partner they like and make it their focal point - what beautiful eyes they have, that smile is killer.
If you've just met someone, find something about them that makes you smile and then smile. A smile is always an invitation, and a welcome. It puts people at ease.
You may have your own way of approaching your interactions with clients. I personally, get excited that I can make a difference in their lives and coach them to become better and better speakers. Some have told me they now enjoy speaking. That always makes me smile. Most all inform me that after working on their acting skills before a speech that they receive great feedback. I smile knowing I have something worthwhile to contribute to people's speaking goals
So when someone is LISTENING
to me and SMILING
, it makes me feel seen, special, and important and I will definitely want to see that person again. What do you do? Let me know.
There is a very important exercise called THE COMFORTABLE EXERCISE that all my acting and speaking clients do (see Sidebar). This helps them understand on an organic and experiential level what it means to listen and be present. Almost all learn something about themselves from this exercise. And those who use this technique find some amazing changes in their communication with others.