Making a fabulous impression on people opens doors for your business, personal, and career endeavors. People like charming people who make them feel comfortable. So, making a fantastic impression helps you get where you want to go.
The basic rule to make a great impression is this: Humans crave to be around people who seem similar to themselves. The key word is seems. Everyone differs from other people in hundreds of ways. However, you get along with people you seem similar to you in interests, feelings, experiences, or goals. You can put these techniques into action to help people feel you seem similar to them and, as a result, make a wonderful impression.
1st Technique: Forget the “Golden Rule”
Since people crave to be around people who seem similar to themselves, avoid wasting time on the “Golden Rule” fantasy suggesting, “Treat people as you want to be treated.” People do not want to be treated the way you want to be treated!
Instead, treat other people the way they like being treated. You make a stellar impression by focusing on their likes, not yours.
2nd Technique: Use the Other Person’s Interpersonal Style
People interact using four interpersonal styles, as follows:
1. Results-Focused: “Quickly tell me the time, not how to build a clock!!”
2. Detail-Focused: “Slowly tell me how to build a clock, slowly leading up to what time it is.”
3. Friendly-Focused: “First, I’ll tell you about my family and weekend. Then, let’s discuss yours. Then, let’s gossip. Then, let’s discuss work.”
4. Partying-Focused: “Wanna hear another joke? Let’s PARTY!!”
Remember: Humans crave to be around people who seem similar to themselves. So, with a results-focused person, act fast-paced and results-focused. To impress a detail-focused person, tell “how to build the clock,” not what time it is.
3rd Technique: Mirror
Mirroring proves incredibly subtle, powerful, and physical. It helps the person instinctively feel comfortable with you. How? You mirror – make yourself seem similar to – the person’s
1. Body language
2. Vocal style
To impress someone who sits straight, you sit straight with that person. If the person speaks slowly, then you do likewise. And dress as formally or informally as the person you want to impress.
4th Technique: Listen Attentively
This tale illustrates the importance of listening well. A man decided to divorce his wife. His lawyer asked, “Did you love your wife?” The man replied, “I would have left her, but I was hesitant before.”
Then, the lawyer asked, “Why do you want to leave her?” The man said, “We have lots of trees around our house, but I rake up the leaves myself.”
The lawyer asked, “Is she mean?” The man answered, “ I stopped eating red meat.” Then, the lawyer inquired, “Does she do housework? Does she take out garbage?” The man responded, “We have a two-car garage.”
Finally, the man felt frustrated, because he failed to understand the point of the lawyer’s questions, so he blurted, “You’re a lawyer. Ask me useful questions about my lousy marriage?”
So, the lawyer asked, “Why do you want to divorce?” The man replied, “Because we can’t communicate!”
This story shows, in extreme fashion, that many conversations actually are two simultaneous monologues. To make a great impression, listen well using these tactics:
Paraphrase or repeat ideas the person said
1. Ask questions
2. Take notes
5th Technique: Artful Vagueness
Prospective clients, who wanted to use my consulting, told me their business problems. Using my expertise with similar problems, I gave my recommendation. They kept telling me they did not like my recommendation. But I knew my recommendation would solve their business problems. The more I said I was right and they were wrong, the more they defended their viewpoint. Suddenly, I realized I did not make them feel comfortable enough. But, I could not agree with them, since they were wrong. So, I listened again to their ideas. Then I said, “I’ve listened carefully to how you want to do this project. That’s an idea.”
At the same time, I thought to myself – but did not say it – “That’s a stupid idea.”
What did they think? They apparently interpreted “That’s an idea” as me agreeing with them, although I had not. Actually, anything anyone says is “an idea.”
This technique is called artful vagueness. You can get out of uncomfortable jams using these artfully vague phrases:
“That’s an idea.”
“You’ve got a point.”
“You may be right.”
6th Technique: Use Everyone’s Favorite Word
Imagine a time you heard someone shout your name. I bet you spun around to see who called your name. We are drawn to people who say our names. My research comparing high-achievers and underachievers revealed high-achievers used the name of the person they spoke to one or more time in each conversation. In contrast, underachievers used the name of the person they encountered less than half the time. This means high-achievers use the name of people they talk with much more than underachievers. You can do what high-achievers do.
7th Technique: Compliments
While studying high-achievers and underachievers, I discovered an amazing difference. High-achievers gave an average of three compliments per day. However, underachievers seldom gave compliments. What an intriguing difference you can use to your advantage!
Some people say these seven charm school techniques are “selling out.” But, a French saying puts it in perspective: “A car can go as far on square wheels as it can go on round wheels. The difference is that on round wheels the ride is much smoother.” Go through your life on round wheels!
© Copyright 2005 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.
About the Author: Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is a conference speaker and consultant with The Mercer Group, Inc. in Barrington, Illinois. Dr. Mercer created the widely used “Abilities & Behavior Forecaster™” pre-employment tests. He authored 5 books, including “How Winners Do It: High Impact People Skills for Your Success”. You can subscribe to Dr. Mercer’s free e-Newsletter at http://www.drmercer.com