As students, we went to school to learn the tangible, analytical, hard skills, and to obtain various degrees or certificates, required for fruition of our professional dreams. As adults, we do our best in spare time to improve the intangible, soft skills, such as creative thinking, leadership, and interpersonal communication. It is my belief that without having soft skills, our academically learned hard skills won’t be able to be showcased fairly and completely.
Contrary to popular belief, initiating a pleasant casual chat with people that we don’t know isn’t difficult. There are just a few things, if we do more, will certainly help us connect with them.
The first one is eye contact. Eyes are the windows to our soul. If we really want to interact with someone we don’t know, we have got to be generous with our eye contact. That’s what people on TV do. That’s what salesmen do. Giving someone a good amount of eye contact is an indicator of our openness.
The second thing is smile. If you are into pop culture like I am, you have probably heard of a word, called Smize, which means smiling with your eyes. That’s a technique used by fashion models to sell products in print campaigns. Since most of us aren’t skillful enough as models are to smile with our eyes, we actually have to physically stretch our facial muscles to create a half moon shape to soften our look, to compliment our eye contact, and to further unveil our hidden friendliness.
People aren’t interested in interacting with a serious person in a casual setting. We have enough seriousness at work. Having a smile on our face is the most efficient way to raise others’ interest and the best antidote to first encounter awkwardness.
The third thing that we need to do more to connect with strangers is to have open physical postures. Arm crossing, in particular, is a definite no-no. Remember, in order to welcome new experience into our lives, we have to project ourselves physically to the outside world as being welcoming, inviting and receptive. Crossing arm or leg postures have the potential of being misinterpreted as the physical manifestation of our disinterest and closeness.
The forth and last thing that is needed to do more in order to establish connection with strangers is to have genuine curiosity. Having curiosity, an inadequate conversationist can become an adequate one. Without having it, an adequate conversationist will turn into an inadequate one. To ensure a good conversation, we have to be curious.