"say it forward"

Insights on Innovation,
Leadership, Culture, Service...

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

It’s a Learning Loop

Lead, listen, learn!

Ever want to say “ZIP IT”? Recently, I was talked at for 27 minutes straight…no breaths, no pause, no check, just talked at. Once it was over, I was exhausted, checked out, and completely put off. Fire hosing someone with your brilliance is clearly not the way to make a good first, second, or third impression – nor is it a way grow your likability, respect, and credibility. There are simple ways to make a good impression and grow likable: Make eye contact, smile, ask questions (be interested), and listen significantly more than you speak.

According to a meta-analysis of over 50 different studies on the relationship between self-reported interpersonal attraction and enacted behavior, there are five nonverbal signs that influence your ability to establish rapport:

  1. Smiling
  2. Engaging in eye contact (the eyes are a window to the soul)
  3. Laughing (when appropriate)
  4. Initiating new conversational topics, (strive to be BOTH interested AND interesting)
  5. Maintaining physical proximity to be sensitive to appropriate professional space and boundaries
  6. Mimicking (unconsciously) nonverbal expressions

Smiling, laughing, making eye contact, and extending the conversation beyond its opening stages by offering more than yep, yeah or right all make sense. But mimicking might seem a bit out there or even awkward. Mimicking is a learned behavior. You have to try, use it, and build the muscle so eventually it becomes unconscious and very powerful.

So if you want to make positively impactful impressions and grow your likability, do NOT underestimate the power of subtly imitating the nonverbal cues and behaviors of the person you are engaging with. And please trust us – a pause, a conversation check-in – ask “are you with me?” – all complimented by these six nonverbal signs are significantly more powerful than fire hosing someone with your own self-righteous brilliance. Practice the art of “Zip it.”

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