April 16, 2013
They're a curious breed.
But they're a (really) necessary part of your business. And your success. And your 80th birthday party, because who wants to go to an 80th birthday party with no attendees? Not me.
As it turns out, learning how to talk to them (all people, not just the 80 year old crowd) is one of the most important skills anyone–you, me, Superman and anyone public speaking alongside Obama–could ever learn. (If you're speaking next to Obama, first, congratulations, but second? Good luck not coming off as a sub par ant of a human.)
This past week, one of my business partners, Jenny, flew down to meet me here in Costa Rica for an intense week-long strategy session. There were mojitos. And massages. And spiders the size of your hand. And also, synergy.
You know, that whole thing where, when the right two people get together, you're more capable of big, bold, fireworks in this world than you are as individuals.
And one of the things that Jenny is strikingly good at?
Good old-fashioned SCHMOOZING.
Oh, is she a schmoozer. She schmoozed everybody in town, including pineapple man. And all these years, I thought I was good with people. If I'm good with people, Jenny is the wonderbra of social interactions. (Sorry, J-Fo – didn't mean to reduce you to an undergarment, but hey, you *ARE* an excellent support structure.)
Jenny's the kind of person that can walk into any social setting, and within 3 minutes, will have befriended at least 5 people, a waiter, the waiter's wife, and the grumpy asshat seated at Table 5.
She's got an incredible knack for endearing people to her almost instantly. (Except our photographer. We did a team photo shoot while she was here, alongside our right-hand woman, Meredith, and he was a tough cookie to crack. So, he can be the exception. FINE.)–
When I asked her what her trick was, she slugged her mojito and proceeded to tell me this:
1. Touch people, already. Appropriately. They aren't a rare specimen in a museum–they're another human being, hoping to connect with you, too. Because isn't that what we all want? Have the confidence that they'll want to talk to you as much as you'll want to talk to them. And then, reach out and touch 'em. A touch on the arm goes a long way to communicate your sincere interest in them, and it'll force them to give you their attention. Every time. (Note: Men have gotta be careful with this one. Fine line between, “Wow, you're a fascinating person and I'm interested in knowing you” and “Hey, how 'bout me and you take a little walk…” Aim for sincere, not creepy. And for the love, ixnay on the “friendly shoulder rub.” (You'd be surprised the shit we women encounter.)
2. Speaking of sincere interest in THEM, actually have one. Ask them questions about themselves. Drop everything in your brain, and actually give a damn about their answers. When you can make other people feel important to you, you'll be important to them.
3. Take off your girdle and relax. Nobody cares if your smile is crooked. Have fun. Laugh with them. Be genuine. And be genuinely happy to be having that interaction right there and then. Whether it's the CEO of Nike, or the bus boy at your local watering hole, serve up the same twinkle in your eye, and love the act of being human together.
Okay, so she didn't really say that last part about being human together, and I totally edited it in, but I think that J-Fo's onto something, here.
Because that whole connect with humans thing? It's not going anywhere.
And if you want to thrive in this world? In your business? In your relationships? In your life?
You've gotta get better at this.
I'm convinced Jenny could walk into the Donald's office tomorrow and walk out with a billion bucks, a box of cigars and his cell phone number. Why do you think I've recruited her to work with me?
The question that remains is:
Work on this, and you can have the world.
Work on other stuff, and you can have a piece of the world your future boss is presently negotiating.