How to Connect with Someone New Without Saying a Word

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No, the title does not mean we’ll be discussing how to use texting to introduce yourself.  Here we’ll harness the power of body language.

Ever been in a social situation where you had (or wanted) to meet someone new?  Was it hard or easy for you?  How quickly did you build a rapport (assuming you did).  How would you like some simple ways to establish a connection before you even say a word?

Would You Talk to You?

Before we introduce the techniques, do this.  Stand in front of a mirror and observe your “normal” look. How inviting and personable is it?  Would you be interested in talking to you?  Now approach the mirror as if you were going to introduce yourself to someone.  Ask yourself the same questions.

Do you look open, inviting, and friendly?  What does your facial expression say?  “Hi, nice to meet you”, “I’m top dog and don’t you forget it”, or “I’m completely scared to death so please be nice”?

How is your posture?  Is it erect?  Hunched?  Challenging?  Non-threatening? Confident?

Reach out your hand to shake hands and look at your hand position.  Take note; we’ll discuss that in a minute.

4 Non-Verbal Ways to Build Instant Connection

If you want to connect with someone before you even say a word, try these four things.

1.  Smile.

Put a smile on your face.  Make it genuine – a fake or mocking smile will have the opposite of the intended effect.  A simple smile can have a huge impact on how someone responds to you.  Don’t believe me?  The next time you go out somewhere smile at everyone you meet.  Sure there will be some grumps, but more frequently you’ll get a smile in return.

2. Tilt Your Head.

Tip your head slightly to one side, with your chin angled down.  This tends to indicate comfort and trust.  Chin up to high and you look like you are haughty and looking down your nose at the person.  Head tilted too far and you just look weird.

3. Stand Erect and Open the Bubble.

Stand with your body in good, erect posture, and slightly angled away from the person you are meeting.  Standing with good posture indicates confidence and comfort.  A slight angle is open and non-threatening.

Find a balance.  Being square on can be somewhat threatening.  Being turned too far away makes it look like you are disinterested or ready to make a break for it.  In the self-defense world this slightly angled stance is called “blading.” Since that doesn’t sound particularly non-threatening, in the interpersonal relations world I call it “opening the bubble.”

If you want to test this, have a friend or colleague help you.  Stand facing each other, with bodies squared against each other.  Slowly move forward towards each other and stop when it starts to get uncomfortable (note: this exercise doesn’t necessarily work so well with an intimate partner).  Stand there for a moment and feel the bubble of uncomfortable energy.  Now, simply step one of your feet back half a step so that you are slightly angled to the other person.  You will feel a release of that energy.  The bubble opens up and the energy dissipates.

4. Use the Open Hand.

No, don’t slap them!  If culturally appropriate, shake their hand.  How you shake their hand matters.  Reach out with your palm turned slightly face up. This is an opening and inviting gesture.

Palm down indicates that you are placing yourself in a position of power.  Palm perpendicular is neutral, neither welcoming nor dominant.  Perpendicular is okay, but doesn’t particularly speed up the connection building.  Palm up is much more friendly and inviting.

When shaking hands, match the pressure of the other person.  Don’t crush their hand, but don’t be a dead fish either.

 

Put these four things together and you have a winning combination for making a quick connection and a good first impression.  Since you won’t necessarily be a natural at doing these in a well, natural way, if you need to you can practice in front of a mirror until putting them together becomes comfortable for you.

Now, go get connected!

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