Every once in a while a book will find it’s way to my hands that is not only instructional, but deeply impactful. Tim Marks’ latest book, Confidence of a Champion will be both instructional and impactful to any leaders life. These are the types of books that are part of the LIFE Subscription that LIFE Leadership offers on a monthly basis. Knowing that great information like this book is coming into our lives every month is priceless!
Tim walks a person through the ideas of where confidence comes from in the first place. He provides many great examples on how to think through confidence in the proper light. In addition, he asks some very poignant questions that, I believe, will help you improve your life in any area you are seeking to grow.
One of the best chapters in the book is the section about applying what we now understand and know about confidence. In leadership, many times we are put into situations where we must meet new people, create conversations and hope to develop relationships that will eventually grow over time. Tim’s layout and step by step breakdown of how to think through and work through those types of situations is masterful!
A short excerpt from that section (I particularly like tip #5):
With the goal of helping you kick-start your progress towards meeting new people and creating new and amazing relationships, here are some tactics you can apply today to take action and get the ball rolling:
- Think “I Like You” in Your Head First. People can tell if you have warmed up to them and if you are feeling friendly towards them. If you are arrogant or stuck up, good luck on making new friends. Who would want to be around you?! And, who would want to stare up your nose at you while you are staring down your nose at them? (Especially if you haven’t trimmed the old nose hairs lately and you need a hedge trimmer to clear out the forest growing in there!) So, when you look at people, literally think the words to yourself, “I like you”. Your whole spirit towards this person will change, particularly if we are Christians and see the other person as God’s creation and want to bring a little joy into their day. (If the other person is grumpy, all the more reason. Remember, hurting people hurt people.)
- Believe the Other Person Will Like YOU! Les Giblin talks about this in his great book, How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People. Assume they are warm and friendly and will respond in a positive way. So much of success is expectation! If you expect the conversation will go well, you’re halfway there. Will people always respond positively? Nope. But you sure can tip the scales in your favor by having an expectant mindset. If you’ve faced a cold shoulder before, don’t let a couple of bad experiences shape your whole view of meeting new friends!
- Be Cool. Don’t come across as too anxious, over-eager or desperate, or you will make them feel uncomfortable. (It helps if you aren’t actually feeling anxious or desperate to begin with.) If you’re eying someone like a piece of meat or a meal ticket, they’ll immediately sense that you have an ulterior motive and it will get weird really fast. Don’t come on too strong or too fast. Take it slow and easy. If you’re overeager, you’ll scare them away. A good way of visualizing this is to imagine feeding pigeons in the park. Pigeons want bread crumbs. However, if you run into the park waiving your arms and screaming, those pigeons will fly away in fear, even if they were starving! If we play it cool and take a sincere interest in others, we’ll have greater success in attracting them.
- Take a Chance! A great leader in our business community really pioneered this hrase a while ago. Take a chance! All of life involves a little risk, and that includes making new friends. The great thing about chances is that they can pay off huge rewards! Take a chance on the stranger next to you. Make the first move. Be bold. Have a backbone. Stand tall. Pursue victory. Refuse to give in to fear! Resolve to be a person of courage and character. Take control of the fearful little voice that is whimpering inside you, making excuses why you shouldn’t try to say hi. Squish that voice like a bug under your heel and take a chance!
- Play “Smiling Chicken”. It takes some effort just to make eye contact and smile, and then say “Hi!” When I first started doing this I thought my face would crack! It’s not normal for a choleric (a personality type which is hard driving and dominant ) or for an engineer to smile and “be nice”, and I still need to work at it today. In fact, to practice this I used to literally drive down the road and “smile talk” to myself in my rear-view mirror before speaking engagements. (It might sound crazy, but it looks even worse, particularly to passerby!) Although these might sound like pretty simple steps, it can feel overwhelming. Just look right at their face and let your face break into a big friendly smile. Smiling breaks the ice and opens the door to getting them to say “hi” back at you! Smiling tells people you are friendly, positive, and you are approachable, and these are all attractive qualities. If you are not used to doing this, you might want to try a fun game called “Smiling Chicken!” You’ve all heard of the game “Chicken”. With that game, you are driving your car towards your competitor at full-speed, and whoever flinches first and turns the car off of the road is declared the “loser”. (This is obviously a terribly dangerous game that I absolutely do not condone; I’m simply offering an illustration.) Now, here is “Smiling Chicken” game. The game goes like this: as you are approaching a stranger, your goal is to catch their eye, break out in a smile, and inspire them to smile back at you! Try doing this to ten strangers and see how many people you can get to smile… it can become a lot of fun!
Now, offer a Comment, Compliment, or a Question!
- Make a COMMENT About Your Shared Situation. When in line at the bank, you can simply look for an opportunity to break the ice by stating out loud how you think or feel. You might say, “Wow, it’s a good thing I’m not in a rush right now,” or whatever you feel is appropriate for the situation you are in. In fact, you might even crack a joke about where you are at. This is especially appropriate if you are standing in line for a sandwich, and you might comment, “This line is so slow I think I might have had a birthday while I’ve been waiting!” J Another comment might be, “Well, at least we have a Subway line to wait in… In Haiti, they would be willing to wait for three days just to have this food!” Be sure if you crack a joke not to use racist, sexist, vulgar or hurtful statements. I recommend you use clean and positive humor, rather than anythin negative. (My good friend and business partner Chris Brady is a terrific speaker and master of clean humor.) Another way of making a comment is point out your similarities. For example, if they have a young child with them, you might ask, “How old is your little boy?” and follow up by sharing, “Oh, that’s such a great age… my little guy is 7 now.” By showing you are similar, you build rapport faster.
- Pay the Other Person a Sincere COMPLIMENT. When you are meeting people, look for something about them that you can speak kindly toward. If they have a child with them, you might comment, “What a cute little guy you’ve got with you!” If they pull up in a Mercedes Benz and get out, you might compliment, “That’s a great car you’ve got there!” It’s pretty easy to pick out things to compliment, like their clothes, etc. Even more impressive is to pay a ompliment to their character. If you see someone do something kind or generous, stop them and say, “I just wanted to say I saw what you did and thought it was very thoughtful of you.” If someone provides great service at a restaurant, let them know! Compliments are a powerful way to connect with people. USE CAUTION: Be very careful when complimenting someone of the opposite sex, particularly if YOU are married, or if you notice they are! I would err on the side of caution and avoid complimenting anything that could be misinterpreted as a “come on” like, “You’ve got beautiful eyes and a gorgeous smile.” Rather, focus on very safe things to compliment, such as “You handled yourself very well in that situation.”
- Ask The Other Person A QUESTION. This is a really powerful strategy for striking up a conversation. In fact, one of the most natural conversation questions to strangers is simply “Excuse me; can you help me?” Then fill in the blanks with something relevant about where you are. For example, if you are in a store, say to someone “Can you help me? Do you know where the such-and-such is?” Or, “Can you help me with directions?” Please understand that in western civilization, it is socially acceptable for an absolute stranger to strike up a conversation asking for directions. Or, if you are standing line at the grocery store, point out something they have in their grocery cart and say, “You know, I’ve never had any of those… are they any good?” If you are back in line at the sandwich shop, you might say, “You know why it’s going so slowly, don’t you? They are “sandwich artists”! Remember that old commercial?” By asking a few questions I am more likely to start a conversation. The point of all of this is to break the ice in that conversation, but also to break the ice for YOU in learning to get really comfortable striking up a conversation. Even if the conversation is over in a moment, you’ve chatted with one more person and lived to talk about it. You have a little more experience, and a little more confidence now.
Building on that, once you develop rapport, you can shift to asking questions about the other person. Dale Carnegie talks about this in detail in his landmark book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s simple to keep a conversation going! Just get the other person talking about themselves. After all, they are usually their favorite subject!
I highly recommend picking up Tim’s new book, Confidence of a Champion from LIFE Leadership as soon as you can! You won’t be able to put it down!