Certain people get under our skin.
They may seem friendly and polite, yet for some unknown reason they rub us up the wrong way.
Often it is because they display four subtle behaviors that trigger a response in our subconscious brain. This response tells us that the person is not listening, uninterested or self-involved.
The question is: How many of these behaviors do you catch yourself doing?
It has been shown that when we interrupt people we set off a threat response.
Even if we interrupt with a relevant point, their subconscious is triggered, causing the release of cortisol (stress hormone). This blunts their creativity and makes them feel like we do not value their opinion.
It may sound obvious, but I’ll bet that after reading this you suddenly start to notice yourself doing it.
2. Talking about Yourself.
One of the core skills of charismatic people is their ability to turn conversations back to the person they are speaking with. By doing so, they fulfill one of the nine basic human needs: validation.
On the other hand, when we talk about ourselves, we deprive people of validation. Even though we may have an interesting viewpoint or story to tell, people need to feel like we care about their opinions.
If we allow others to speak by not interrupting, they feel like they have been heard. If we also ask questions that turn the conversation back to them, they feel validated. This is, undoubtedly, the key to being liked—the skill to make others feel important, interesting and validated.
3. Losing Focus.
In this case, the focus we’re talking about is probably more subtle than what you’re thinking.
We have an inbuilt mechanism that causes us to constantly scan to the sides of whoever we’re speaking with. It is designed to help keep us safe by checking for signs of danger (like a tiger sneaking behind the bushes).
However, when people do this to us, our subconscious brains notice. Again, we feel like we are not really being listened to.
You can break this mechanism by learning to hold better eye contact. It will feel weird at first, but so do all new skills. Try to hold eye contact for at least two seconds without looking off to the sides. Once that feels normal, keep going until you have an engaged, laser focus.
Have you ever noticed that some people constantly nod and say ‘yep’, even when you have not made a point or asked a question?
This is a nervous behaviour that breaks rapport because—you guessed it—it makes them feel like you are not listening. We have an innate sense of natural conversation flow. When this flow is broken by too many ‘yeps,’ it makes us feel weird.
Try to be aware of how many ‘yeps’ you are throwing out there, and aim to reduce the number. Again, this is one of those things that will probably get slightly worse before it gets better. When you first become aware of your habits, they seem magnified. But trust me, with time and practice you will eventually feel comfortable holding time and space.
If we can first become aware of how engaged we are, and then work to reduce these four behaviours, we may just find ourselves building relationships with more people. As a bonus, we are more likely to enjoy conversations, build connections and experience greater presence.
Author: Garrick Transell
Apprentice Editor: Toby Israel/ Editor: Alli Sarazen