The Art of the Schmooze: How To Make People Like You (part 2): Showing Genuine Interest

Thursday, January 7, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:08 AM

Originally Published 2007-06-06 19:29:58

This is part 2 of an ongoing series of articles entitled "The Art of the Schmooze". Here's a link to Part 1. For those of you too lazy to click, here's the outline of topics (And yes, I'll come back later and update this with links once they are all written).


  1. Showing genuine interest

  2. The mirror game

  3. Conveying openness through body language

  4. The All-Important Smile

  5. Eye Contact

  6. Breaking the ice

  7. Listening attentively and actively

  8. Finding something in common

  9. Questions vs. Statements

  10. Add value to the conversation


Showing Genuine Interest is the simplest, easiest thing to do. The other 9 topics I'm covering in this series are generally supporting this basic, overarching principle.

It seems so simple, doesn't it? Everyone wants to be appreciated, and nothing shows this more than being genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. Yet, each and every one of us was ignored today (if you weren't, then I have to ask if you left the house!).

If you really care, it will show. It's that simple.

As I noted in my introduction, schmoozing applies to every interaction -- the stranger on the train, an almost-colleague you barely acknowledge in your daily navigation of cubicle heaven, on a date, during an interview, and, most on-topic, your clients and customers. Better yet, your future clients and customers.

I've said this elsewhere in this blog many times, but I'll reiterate it again: Everyone has something to teach you. Resist criticism, prejudgment, and focus on what your client wants, needs, likes, hopes for, and is curious about. Notice that I didn't say what you can give, offer, provide, or present to them. Get to know them, not how they can benefit you.

Things that detract from this concept of showing genuine interest (i.e., stop these bad habits!):

  • Thinking about what you're going to say next rather than listening

  • Second guessing what you just said rather than listening

  • Focusing (or worse, staring at) the physical attributes of your counterpart. Yes, I just told you to stop staring at her tits. And listen for godsakes!

  • Being critical of your counterpart's verbiage, tone, volume, and style. Especially if you just thought of shoes, hair , or clothing when you read "style". There will be plenty of time later to reflect on these things. Get back to -- you guessed it -- listening. They don't have to be as articulate as Bertrand Russell in order to teach you something.

  • Paying attention to other individuals in the room, your notes, your blackberry, the TV in the background, your iPod, or anything else other than your client.


Look at it this way: you want to be able to ask your client to borrow $10 for a cab if you step away from the meeting and discover you've been pickpocketed and your mobile phone is dead. Act accordingly. Forge a real relationship with this person, even if you feel that this person has nothing to offer you.

Because you're wrong. They do. If you can't see it, at best, you're trying to place a square peg in a round hole. Just because she doesn't represent a bread-and-butter client opportunity, just because he isn't an articulate speaker, just because she doesn't have straight teeth, just because his belt doesn't match his shoes... doesn't preclude their addition to your network of influence. And, again, you can learn something from everyone, even if their direct influence on your current focus is minimal.

At worst, by not showing genuine interest, you're being prejudicial, likely condescending, and all-around un-cool. In a word, you're being an arse. And people won't like you.

Comments

On 2007-08-15 11:18:15 Matt Savage said:
Excellent post. This is definitely key in terms of dating. Actually listening and showing the person that you are interested is HUGE! In the seduction world, there is even a term for a direct show of interest in a person. It is called SOI or Statement of Intent, basically it's a direct statement that clearly shows interest. Amazingly, most people totally miss this simple yet effective aspect for successful dating.

-Matt Savage

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