Sometimes I self-sabotage in talking with others, especially those I do not know them well, then feel badly afterwards. As Mindwise author Nicholas Epley shows, we overestimate how well we understand how others see us and what they are thinking, yet here are four ways to increase the chances that we can connect better with others… sometimes.
1. Be the Same Person Around Everyone
“I am so used to having two faces,” observes Lee Daniels, the producer/director of Precious. “A face that I had for black America and a face for white America. When Obama became president, I lost both faces. Now I only have one face. But old habits die hard, and sometimes I can’t remember who I’m supposed to be.”
We tend to feel most at ease with people who look and act right – like us. Beyond “likeness” and context (what else is going on in a situation), you’ve probably noticed another factor that affects your behavior. Some individuals “make” you act grumpy, sarcastic, remote or otherwise difficult while others bring out your best side.
Hint: You may feel more congruent, authentic and face less conflict if you can be that “better side” of yourself no matter whom you are around. Plus people are more likely to like you – and that makes life easier.
2. Inspire Others by Your Passionate Belief in Their Best Talent Then Prove It
“One day, I was walking on Houston Street in Manhattan,” remarked Helen Mirren, “and because there were a lot of holes in the road, I was looking down at my feet. I got a tap on the shoulder, and I jumped.
This mad-looking man with wild dreadlocks says, ‘I love you and I have a movie I want you to do.’ I thought, this is a complete madman, I’ll never hear from this person again. Ninety-nine percent of the people who approach you this way are living in a fantasy world. But Lee (Daniels), due to his charm and belief, makes his fantasies real. He doesn’t hear ‘no.’ ”
Daniels persisted in recruiting Mirren to act in Shadowboxer, and, after seeing his other movies and listening to his vision for the movie when he followed with her, she agreed.
Tip: Few things can inspire other’s allegiance that your recognition of their worth and your offer to let them use their best talent – with you.
3. Think Before You Speak
To say the right thing that can build a connect, first T.H.I.N.K. suggests Mark Beeson who believes that “The right thing said the right way at the right time has a chance of connecting… otherwise, we can expect to swing and miss.” In what you are about to say:
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Important?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
Yet, despite your best intentions, “you’re not in control of others.They may not respond the way you want or expect. Keep casting your net… sometimes you end up connecting with an unexpected person. Perhaps, that’s where you should have been all along, says Mark Meyer.
Tip: Hold tightly to practicing connecting with others, especially when you want to scream and run away and hold lightly to the outcome.Stumbling
Yes, I admit that is a hard-to-follow headline yet this story and resultant lesson may make it relevant – and worth your while.
The man who was crouched on the sidewalk at 68th and Broadway in New York City was one of the most pathetic souls I’d ever seen,” wrote Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. “His limbs were twisted in what appeared to be arthritic agony and tears were streaming down his face. “Please,” he whimpered. “Please, somebody help me.”
“My wife and I stopped. The man looked up. “Please,” he sobbed. “I just want to go home.” My hand needed no guidance from my brain as it reached into my wallet and extracted $10. “Thank you,” he said as I handed him the money. “Thank you so much.” My wife and I mumbled some embarrassed words and walked on.
We hadn’t gone a block when she tugged my sleeve. “Maybe we should have gotten him into a cab,” she said. “He could barely stand up. He might need help. We should go back to see.” My wife is the patron saint of lost kittens and there is no arguing, so we went back to see. And what we saw was our horribly crippled friend walking briskly and happily up 68th Street, opening the door to a late-model car, getting in and driving away after what was apparently a short day of theatrical work.
I know two things now that I didn’t know then.
First, I now know that my hand did what human hands were designed to do. We are hard-wired with a strong and intuitive moral impulse —- an urge to help others that is every bit as basic as the selfish urges that get all the press.
The second thing is that this was the most damaging crime I had ever experienced. Like most residents of large cities, I’d been a victim before – of burglary once, of vandalism several times. But this was different. The burglars and vandals had taken advantage of my forgetfulness (“Why didn’t I double lock the door?”) and taught me to be better.
But the actor on 68th Street had taken advantage of my helpfulness and taught me to be worse. The hand that had automatically reached for my wallet had been slapped, and once slapped was twice shy. I’ve never again given money to a stranger without scrutinizing him for the signs that distinguish suffering from its imitation. And because I don’t know what those signs are, I typically just walk by.”
Tip: When you react against someone’s words or behavior take a moment to consider that this person may have a different reason for his actions than a badly-behaving person you encountered in the past who did something similar.