Making People Feel Important

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Feeling special is something nobody refuses. Making people feel significant is especially important in relation to flirting, developing new friendships, and success at work. Fortunately, you use exactly the same skills in all these contexts to a greater or lesser extent. The next three sections offer strategies you can use to make others feel important; the last section tells you how to make colleagues, friends, and people you're interested in feel important.

Mirroring their language

Copying a person's language is a great way to build rapport. Just listen for words or phrases that stand out in the conversation and also use them. If they refer to their dog as their 'doggie', using doggie in your response sounds familiar and will endear you to them faster than if you refer to their beloved pet as 'the dog'.

If they're the type of person who 'loves' to do this and 'loves' to do that, they're clearly a passionate person. By adopting the same or similar approach in your choice of words, you bond much quicker.

For more information on using linguistics to determine how interested someone is in you, see Chapter 8.

Copycats

It was a blustery summer's day in what had otherwise been a damp squib of a summer. As they walked along the beach, Patsy turned to her friend to comment on the nice day. 'Those clouds have heavy bottoms, I think it could be rain on the way,' responded Elizabeth. Patsy was disappointed in the response. 'You're always being so negative, why can't you have something positive to say for once?' she berated her friend. Elizabeth wasn't trying to be negative; she'd just happened to notice the clouds exactly when Patsy was commenting on the nice day and was effectively thinking out loud. Elizabeth was careful afterwards to avoid mentioning anything that could be misconstrued as negative.

To develop the best rapport, use the tone and style of language of the person you're conversing with.

Next time you have a conversation with a good friend, listen for common words and phrases that you both use. You may also find that you adopt the same attitudes in your conversations, for example being positive or negative or sitting on the fence.

Letting them take the floor

People generally love the sound of their own voices and talking about themselves; after all, it's a subject they know well.

If you give the other person enough space, they'll generally find the words to fill it. This strategy serves two purposes: not only do you get to find out lots about the person you're talking to, which helps you build more rapport, it also leads the other person to believe that you're fascinated by them, which is a very flattering notion.

As well as being a great social strategy, letting others do the talking works well in the office too.

When making conversation, don't be afraid to give people the space to answer; the more space they have, the more they reveal themselves to you.

Putting it into action

To start capitalising on your skills, you need to put them into action - in your workplace, to make new friends, and get more dates. That's where this section comes in.

Boss's pet

Whenever Gemma fancied a lazy afternoon, she'd casually drop a question into the conversation about one of her boss's pet subjects. This generally initiated a two-hour monologue, interspersed with tea and chocolate biscuits, which he'd happily supply in return for the opportunity to talk about his youth in Norway and his time as a professional footballer. Gemma was genuinely quite interested in her boss, but she also enjoyed slacking off work into the bargain.

As hard as her colleague Graham tried, he couldn't figure out Gemma's success in getting their boss off the subject of work and having a skive, but then Graham wasn't a big fan of listening or letting anyone else do the talking.

If you're looking for an easy conversation, discover the other person's main passion and let them run with it.

Enhancing your career

Practising in the office is a great way to hone your skills before you let them loose on the person of your desires. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the results and may even get a pay rise or promotion into the bargain.

To make people feel important, try these strategies:

✓ Make a point of taking the initiative because it makes the other person feel pleased that you made the effort to approach them.

✓ Greet everyone you meet with a cheery hello to gain a reputation for being friendly.

✓ When someone speaks, nod in agreement while you listen -they'll talk for up to three times longer.

✓ In meetings, if someone is quiet, ask for their opinion - you'll appear consultative and inclusive.

✓ If someone says something you agree with, say so.

✓ Pay genuine compliments freely.

✓ Thank your boss for their help and guidance.

✓ Volunteer to do the things that other people don't want to -but not all the time.

Too clever by half

Ian was a bright chap and didn't tolerate fools gladly. Unfortunately, he considered most of the people he worked with to fall into that category. In meetings, he'd create an austere impression by leaning back in his chair and looking down his nose when other people were speaking. When anyone challenged what he said, he'd verbally beat them into the ground. Ian's problem wasn't so much what he said but how he said it: he made his colleagues feel like idiots.

Ian's boss finally took him to one side and told him to address his behaviour towards other people. Instead of interrupting them to tell them they were wrong, he should let people talk and then respond in a non-aggressive manner. Initially, Ian didn't like this approach because meetings took much longer. He still got the outcome he wanted, though, and he was still very unpopular in meetings. His boss told Ian to stick with his new approach; change takes time to stick. Eventually people started to respond to Ian differently; they listened when he persuaded them his way was better, and usually agreed, and his boss observed his greater respect for others and offered him promotion.

Sometimes, doing things differently can seem futile if you achieve the same result. Making people feel good about themselves and as though they've been listened to and appreciated, however, will win you more than just brownie points. Be patient; a change in attitude takes time to sink in. Stick with the changes you make in your own behaviour until you get the response you want.

Cultivating more friends

Finding friends becomes harder as you get older. Opportunities don't present themselves the way they did when you were at school or college. People who play team sports have the greatest opportunities to meet new people, but if you're a working lone parent who's relocated from your home town, life can be quite lonely. Using all your lovely flirting skills on new people not only wins them over, it also prepares you for when you're ready to dazzle Mr or Miss Right. Only one rule of thumb exists when looking for new friends: if they're breathing, they're a possible friend!

To cultivate new friends, follow this advice:

✓ Take opportunities to speak to new people, greeting them with a smile and maintaining a happy demeanour.

✓ Be interested in what they have to say and ask them for their thoughts, even if the subject's not something you're interested in.

✓ Nod gently in agreement when the other person is talking.

Billy no mates

Victoria's kids were both at school and lots of the other mums had gone back to work. She was feeling quite lonely and didn't feel she had the opportunity to meet new people. Actually, she met lots of people in the course of a day: fellow dog walkers, members of the gym, and other mums at the school gates. But then Victoria took the initiative and followed the cultivating friends strategy. She started to speak to some of the older dog walkers who weren't in so much of a rush and discovered that they were good company. The age gap was irrelevant and she began looking forward to their walks together. At the gym, Victoria started chatting to a woman who returned her smile and within a couple of weeks they were meeting regularly for coffee. She spoke to the new mums at school and suggested a small group of them got together for a drink once a week. Gradually the children got to know each other too and the mums and kids started meeting up at weekends. Having so many new friends meant Victoria didn't have to rely so heavily on her long-standing ones and could even gently ditch one whose friendship she'd outgrown.

Taking the initiative to meet other people and be interested in them can feel awkward at first. Once you've got the hang of it, though, you'll never lose it.

✓ Compliment them.

✓ Don't be in a rush to get away and let them know you look forward to bumping into them again.

Boosting your flirting prowess

Making someone feel important when you're flirting with them is very easy, especially if the other person finds you attractive. Even if the other person doesn't realise they're attracted to you yet, by following the advice in this section you'll boost their ego so much and make them feel so special they'll naturally feel warmer towards you.

Making someone feel as though they're the centre of your universe, even if only for the duration of a conversation, is a powerful strategy. Remain quiet whilst they talk, don't interrupt, and always respond with a personal experience of the subject they've just talked on. As you do so, remember to:

✓ Gaze into their eyes

✓ Nod when they're speaking

✓ Agree with what they've said

✓ Flatter, flatter, flatter

Treating 'em mean doesn't keep 'em keen

Visiting friends, Nigel was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to Sally. He was polite at first but, as he became more comfortable, suddenly started offering backhanded compliments that verged on rude. Sally had no idea what she'd done to offend him. When Sally popped to the bathroom, the host asked Nigel why he was being such an idiot. Nigel had thought his flirtation was going very well and was oblivious to the offence he was causing; to him, his comments were just playful banter. 'That sort of thing might impress the guys in the rugby team, but it won't work on women.' chastised the host. Nigel turned tack and spent the rest of the evening being nice to Sally, listening to what she had to say, agreeing with the points she was making, hanging on her every word, and paying her compliments. Although Sally was confused at first, she did eventually fall for his charms.

Putting people down, even in jest, won't impress anyone. Play nice and make them feel important if you want to win them over.

You may feel this approach is too obvious - but it works!

Resting your hand against your face gives the appearance of being interested, but don't rest your face on your hand as doing so indicates boredom and disinterest - Figure 9-2 demonstrates the difference. Women are more likely to adopt this pose than men. Men will usually lean more into the woman's territory by putting their arm across the table or on the back of her chair.

Figure 9-2: Fascinated woman (left); bored woman (right).

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People respond more positively to smiles, but grinning like a Cheshire cat isn't necessary. Adopting a slight, closed-lip smile, with the corners of your mouth turning up just enough to make your cheeks raise slightly and the corners of your eye crinkle, makes you a more attractive listener.

The merry widow

Jane was a widow, with no plans to find a new husband - but she was never short of offers. The men loved her. When her friends watched what she was doing, it was actually very simple. She gazed at the person speaking to her, and smiled broadly whenever they said something amusing. She was also free with her compliments, smattering the conversation with 'You're so clever', 'You're so funny', and so on. It was a simple, but brilliant and unintentional, strategy. Jane was a natural flirt.

The simplest solutions, designed by Mother Nature, are often the best; look friendly, be interested, make them feel special, and you boost your flirting prowess with very little effort.

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