Meetings, parties and weddings, like it or not, our lives involve meeting new people.
For some, the very thought of meeting new people is frightening, perhaps exhausting. When told that we’re going to meet new people, some follow the announcement with a huge sigh, after all why would they want to make ‘small talk with strangers?’ Isn’t it much easier and more comfortable to stay at home or in the office? Others throw themselves into the possibility and feel excited and energised about who they may meet or what they may learn.
Fact: meeting new people is part of life and, like anything, your perspective is your choice. How you choose to respond to meeting new people will affect your experience.
So for one moment….think about it from the perspective of the person that is about to meet you? What experience do you give them?
When people meet YOU for the first time, who do they see?
How do you show up? Which aspects of you do you let people see? Which ones do you keep to yourself? Perhaps to be seen only by those that you have grown to trust over the years?
Being human (as we all are!) our nature is to find common ground as quickly as we can between ourselves and the stranger. Keen for them to ‘like us’ we often change our behaviour to ‘highlight’ parts of us that we want them to see. Perhaps our humour, perhaps our integrity, perhaps our sense of achievement, we give the stranger clues as to who we are and what we are about in the hope that we can quickly find common ground between us. The common ground is place that both are comfortable to be.
Don’t default to negativity
Recently, I’ve noticed how many people, when meeting someone new, choose to connect with them through negativity. Often without realizing, they choose to tell stories of woe, assuming the role of the victim for themselves or through telling negative stories of what has happened to others. Building rapport through empathy or sympathy is certainly one way to connect, after all we all have stories of woe and there is lots of common ground. But sadly, this often leaves the conversation flat, the whole experience of meeting someone new a little uncomfortable and vitally, entirely covers the brilliance and the wonderful uniqueness of the human being you present. So which parts of you don’t strangers see? And how do you let them see more of you?
Building rapport is better for them and better for you
Relax. Remember that everyone is trying their best in life, you may even enjoy the meeting.
All about them. Focus on them, not on you and see how much easier it is to show up as yourself and how much you stop thinking about how you are coming across.
Pose a question. What is it that genuinely interests you about them? Ask them about it, you will show an interest, prove you are listening and put them at ease.
Positivity. Invest positivity in to the conversation to give the whole experience an entirely different feel.
Observe. What is this person really telling you? Look behind the words they are saying to find what you like about them.
Respond in a genuine way to conversation, information and questions.
Truth. Dare to show them more of you, that you too are human and vulnerable, honesty is endearing. Watch the atmosphere become more relaxed.