The right friends in the right places

I enjoy the idea of meeting new people and finding out something unique about them especially when it is something mind-blowing that they do.

I recently met a lady who was on the cast of The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, teaches in her spare time at a special needs school and volunteers for the Vision Rescue charity in India! Talk about being a superwoman.

Listening to her made me realise that just consistently doing the seemingly little things I am good at makes a difference in the long run. Also, I don’t have to know or do all things, all that is required is expanding my circle to include people with varying degrees of talents.

If you are like me though, you only enjoy the idea and not necessarily the process of meeting new people. I would rather read a book under my duvet (sipping tea and eating an awful load of cookies/chocolates) instead of going out for events to meet people (especially if they had no desire to be there but showed up for sentimental reasons).

That is not where the battle ends though. Even after connecting with people on some level, how do you maintain that connection without intruding on their personal space or driving yourself insane with chit chat?

I have learned over the years from writers/speakers like Michael Hyatt, Tony Robinson, John Maxwell and Dale Carnegie on how to be genuinely interested in people and my tips (gleaned from these people) are:

· Be Approachable: I am still learning how to be more approachable as my shyness makes me seem aloof. Nevertheless, I keep a smile on my face…a genuine smile not the plastered smile that makes one look like Chucky from Child’s play.

· Remember names and pronunciations: In Dale Carnegie’s book (How to win friends and influence people) he says “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

I have learned that it is necessary to pronounce people’s names the way it is to be pronounced. Don’t take the lazy route to call them an abridged version of their name.

Nothing is more disrespectful, distasteful and annoying as lazily mispronouncing a person’s name just because you found it too hard to remember.

Sometimes I forget a person’s name and I apologetically ask them to please remind me of their name and as soon as the person does me the honours, I link their name to something memorable.

For example, I met a dude name Aaron 6 weeks ago and for the life of me, I could not remember his name when I bumped into him yesterday. He reminded me what his name was and I liked it to Moses…now he is stuck in my head as Aaron the brother of Moses. I shall never forget his name so help me God.

· Listen: We all like to talk about ourselves but the real discipline comes when we learn to keep quiet and be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say.

After making small talk, bridge the uncomfortable conversation lag by asking random question that would encourage others to talk about themselves and what they do.

Last night, I was with a group of people and honestly, it was difficult to keep up the conversation. Then I had a light bulb moment…I asked them what city they would like to work in apart from London if all the stars were aligned. That conversation lasted for almost an hour and by the time we had to leave, we all felt a certain connection to eachother.

· Do not be opportunistic: It stinks when you are only contacted if someone needs something from you. Admit it, we all have that one person on our contact list who calls us only when they need a favour (and they don’t even have the courtesy to ask how we are doing…smelly people).

If you don’t want to be a smelly person, instead of thinking how others can help you, maintain contacts by asking yourself how you can add value to the person.

· Give compliments: Now this gets me in a lot of trouble, especially in London, as many people think I have an ulterior motive when I pay them a compliment. In order to gain the trust of people, genuinely look for what is unique in them and compliment them on it. With time, it becomes a habit which gladdens both you and the people within your sphere of influence.

That’s all folks but I would encourage you to read the following:
How to win friends and influence people;
3 Important Habits for Building Influence that Matters;
The Power to Influence; and
How to influence People.

These are the books/articles: audio CDs from which I gleaned my 5 nuggets of influence.

In other news, it was Katie Lucido’s birthday and we had a surprise birthday party for her last night. I just love surprise birthdays J. She is such a beautiful person inside out and I am glad I know her.

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Have an amazing Friday people (and don’t party too hard this weekend).

x.

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