How to Put People at Ease

How do you get someone who doesn’t know you to feel comfortable talking?  How do you create a welcoming impression?

How another person perceives you is determined by a number of things you do before you speak. I have taken this list of steps from Keith Ferrazzi.

  • Smile. It says, “I’m approachable.”
  • Good eye contact. You don’t need to stare, but studying the carpet is a real put off.
  • Unfold your arms. Crossing your arms makes you appear defensive and signals tension.
  • Nod your head and lean in.  Show that you’re engaged and interested.
  • Physical contact. Touching is a powerful act. Most people convey their friendly intentions by shaking hands; some go further by shaking with two hands. Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Who’s Got Your Back” suggests breaking through the distance between you and the person you’re trying to establish a bond with by touching the other person’s elbow. It conveys just the right amount of intimacy, and as such, is a favorite of politicians. It’s not too close to the chest, which we protect, but it’s slightly more personal than a hand.
  • Be Interested. The real core of all connecting is to care about people.  Seth Godin talks about being Interested rather than Interesting.  It is a pleasure to engage with people who are interested in me.  It doesn’t get boring.  It is fun to meet an interesting person, but it gets boring once they’ve told their story.  
If you care about other people, these habits naturally start to flow.