If you want to be successful, you can expect to be in new situations. Whether you are adjusting to new responsibilities, a new position or even an entirely new job, your learning curve will be quicker and easier, and success will be yours if you remember the basics of getting to know people. Be ready to move out of your comfort zone to master three basic people skills: introducing yourself, remembering names, and asking questions.
Believe it or not, even successful people under perform because of the anxiety they feel in new situations. We all feel it, but the most successful among us has learned how to put our ego aside so that we can effectively introduce ourselves, reliably remember names, and overcome the fear of asking questions.
These three basic yet critical get-to-know-you skills can be learned, but to practice them we must push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Our confidence level in new situations will grow as we practice these people skills and we will realize success building upon success!
It is important to push through feelings like fear of making mistakes or being rejected when it comes to meeting people. And you will get farther faster if you go up to people and introduce yourself rather than waiting for them to come up to you. All you have to do is learn how to get better at it.
Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself people, just go for it. Whether you are at a networking function to meet people, or at a meeting and your new CEO is there, don’t assume someone isn’t interested in meeting you. Be prepared by having an “opening line” about yourself and a firm handshake. The first few times you stretch out of your comfort zone to do this it will feel awkward, but with some word tweaking and continued practice your opening line will be great.
Then pay attention to what they tell you about themselves. Listen intently so that they feel heard, valued and respected. First impressions don’t have as much to do with what you say, but rather how you made them feel. It is a really, really good idea to write down details about them as soon as you can. Don’t rely on your memory, especially if you are in a setting where you are meeting more than one person. This will help you remember someone the next time you see them, which brings us to our next basic people skill.
We all are challenged to remember the names of people we meet, but remembering names is a skill that you can master with practice. When you remember someone’s name you are likely to feel much more comfortable with them which will lead to trust that will pay dividends in your future endeavors. Here are a few tips about how to remember names.
Firstly, before the end of your first conversation with someone you have just met, use their name a couple of times. If their name slips your mind, just ask them. Don’t wimp out here. Remembering people’s names is a skill that will serve you almost more than anything else in life. As soon as possible, write down their name, or put it in your cell phone or other device. Go back later, look at their name and purposely bring their face up in your mind’s eye. Go through your list of new acquaintances from time to time to test your recall, and when you do, associate something in their name with something you remember about them such as the way they looked. For instance, Shirley Brown might have long curly brown hair, so you can associate Shirley with curly and Brown with the color of her hair. Association is a proven method of recollection.
Lastly, when you are going to be somewhere you are likely to see someone again, go over your notes so that you will recognize them and remember some things about them. Your commitment to remembering them will not be forgotten.
Most of us resist the urge to ask questions, but according to studies, the more questions new employees ask, the better they perform. Asking questions shows a commitment to superior performance and organizational success. Overcome the urge to “go it alone” and ask a co-worker or boss for guidance. But before you do, consider what you want, why you want it, and who and when you should ask. Your question should be focused and to the point. Instead of asking “how to” do something, ask to be shown. Avoid multi-faceted questions. Then say thank you.
A good practice when starting something new would be to establish a “go-to” person early on. You can set this up during your introduction to this person by asking them if it is okay to get back with them about questions you might have in the future.
In summary, as you practice these three people skills basics, your confidence will grow as you become more adept at introductions, names and questions. You will become accustomed to being out of your comfort zone as you ramp up your game. Just make a promise to yourself that you will always push yourself out of your comfort zones where ever they are. You will be better for it!