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While the whole job search process shifts almost completely to an online format, the one aspect that remains the same is your ability to communicate effectively with others.
No matter how talented or smart you are, if you can’t communicate it will be difficult to get a job, maintain customers, or have productive relationships. In my Jan. 16th blog “Build Relationships-Build Your Network” I shared ways to create professional contacts, but today’s topic is much more fundamental. Here, we’ll focus on the “do’s” when creating connections.
In today’s culture we make connections in a virtual world, create and save documents in a cloud, and even attend meetings thousands of miles away without ever boarding a plane. Even our 21st century social media is anything but “social.”
Yet with all the new technology it still comes down to a simple handshake and some eye contact.
Some people are born with the ability to jump in on any conversation with an ever-ready appropriate response; however, most people aren’t built that way. Communicating takes practice – and I don’t mean by talking more, but by talking meaningfully. Let’s dive in and look at a few ways to improve connections.
6 Ways to Gain Respect and Make Connections
- Focus on first impressions and non-verbal behavior: behavior, posture and tone of voice all send a message. Be in charge of the message with confidence and clarity.
- Try to match their behavior and emotions: gauge how the other person is feeling by their expression, posture, or tone and try to connect on their level. Build relationships through non-verbal behavior and you’ll build trust and get positive results from others.
- Mutual respect is crucial: be assertive, not aggressive. Use “I” statements, listen, and be clear with your thoughts and requests.
- We all have a personal bubble: understand others’ boundaries. Everyone has a comfort level of how close they are willing to get to others emotionally and physically. It’s helpful to recognize others’ preferences and approach them with their bubble in mind.
- Find similarities and know people’s interests: find what you have in common with people and build a relationship. People love to talk about themselves; find out what interests them and it’ll get them to open up.
- Don’t forget to be real: if you seem unnatural, all the focus will be drawn to your awkward behavior. It’s important to actually care about what others are saying. When you show respect and act with sincerity, you’ll be making connections in no time.
It feels like we have more ways than ever to make connections, yet we’re further and further disconnected.
Neighbors may live only feet away but we rarely even know their names. We can even choose life partners without ever leaving the convenience of our homes. Communicating is a lifelong process, but fortunately it’s something we can easily and continuously practice. Unplug technology and plug into the world around you. Imagine the possibilities…
Real connections happen when you make them happen. Strike up a conversation with the guy next to you in the check-out line at the grocery store and practice the steps above. I promise you’ll learn something from the exchange – maybe a new way to prepare brussel sprouts!