Whenever we meet a new person, our brains do some fast work to decide how to react. Do we recognise their face? Are they a threat to us? Are they like us?
In sociology, this is seeing someone as part of our in-group. When you are meeting someone for the first time, I encourage you to ask enough questions to find things in common with them so you can get a better sense of who they actually are.
Mirror Body Language
Not only does mirroring someone’s body language help you feel like you are on the same wavelength, it also shows that you are engaged and listening. Make sure you use a subtle approach here.
Want to know what the sweetest sound is to anyone’s ears? Their own name. A lot of people have trouble remembering other people’s names.
Here are my tips: repeat their name out loud after they introduce themselves and then mention their name twice in conversation. For example: “Jane, it’s nice to meet you”, “Jane, this is Lisa”, “Tell me more about that, Jane.”
You can also try connecting their name to something familiar. The more outrageous and left-field the connection, the more likely you are to remember it. (Confession, when I first met [my husband] Jay, I connected it to ‘vajayjay’.)
Check Your Posture
One of the first things people notice is how you carry and present yourself. Do you walk and stand with confidence? The most important thing you can do to ensure correct posture is probably similar to what my mother taught me: stand tall as if a string is being pulled from the centre of your head. You want to portray to people that you are confident and sure of yourself.
To connect instantly with someone, shake hands, when possible. Touch is the most primitive and powerful non-verbal cue. Touching someone on the arm, hand or shoulder for as little as a fraction of a second creates a human bond.
In the workplace, physical touch is established through the handshaking tradition and this tactile feedback makes a lasting and positive impression.
Fun fact: a study on handshakes by the US Income Center for Trade showed people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. Another fun fact: the temperature of your hands impacts how people perceive your trustworthiness. No-one likes to shake a cold, clammy hand, so before you meet someone make sure you warm those hands up!