Posted by: magnussonllc | September 25, 2009

How to Set People at Ease

You have about ten seconds before a person decides, subconsciously, whether they like you or not. In that short period of time we don’t exchange a lot of words; our judgment is mostly based on nonverbal communication. Friends

Why? Anthropologists tell us that we’re thinking like cavemen. Deep in our genetic code, we are conditioned to be afraid of strangers. Will they eat us or feed us? That’s why we form first impressions so quickly; we have to decide whether or not it is safe to approach.

How do you get someone who doesn’t know you to feel comfortable talking? This is not the time to play hard-to-get, keep a distance, or play mysterious. Instead, take the initiative in creating a welcoming impression. People are wowed by social decisiveness when it’s offered with compassion and warmth. How another person perceives you is determined by a number of things you do before you utter your first word.

Here are 5 great tips from Keith Ferrazzi:

1. First, give the person a hearty smile. It says, “I’m approachable.”

2. Maintain a good balance of eye contact. If you maintain an unblinking stare 100 percent of the time, that qualifies as leering. That’s plain scary. If you keep eye contact less than 70 percent of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for.

3. Unfold your arms and relax. Crossing your arms can make you appear defensive or closed. It also signals tension. Relax! People will pick up on your body language and react accordingly.

4. Nod your head and lean in. Meanwhile, we cautious about invading the other person’s space. You just want to show that you’re engaged and interested.

5. Learn to touch people. Touching is a powerful act. Most people convey their friendly intentions by shaking hands; some go further by shaking with two hands. My favorite way to break through the distance between me and the person I’m trying to establish a bond with is to touch the other person’s elbow. It conveys just the right amount of intimacy, and as such, is a favorite of politicians. It’s not too close to the chest, which we
protect, but it’s slightly more personal than a hand.

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