Communication SkillsPresentation MasterySelling Skills

4 Proven Tips to Increase your Ability to Engage by 87%

At the doggie resort & spa where my 2 springer spaniels vacation while I’m on the road, the owner of the place tells me that they have friends. And when I pick them up, I do see that my dog’s have playmates and BC is always particularly friendly with Abigail (though both have been neutralized so the romance angle is moot).

I’d think that they were quite brilliant (except that I know better) to figure a way to make friends all without the capacity to communicate with words. One episode of Frozen Planet or any other animal documentary and it becomes clear it isn’t that my dogs are smart (hahahahahaha!) but that linguistics isn’t the key when it comes to the ability to understand.

As it turns out, we humans don’t need much language to communicate either.

We communicate as much with our behavior as our words. Our ability to get our point across successfully can be assessed (using RFID technology) sometimes within 45 seconds and with as much as 87% accuracy! (One look from my husband and I can know exactly what he wants [or doesn’t]. From just the first words on the phone – the same Hi honey, I can tell if I’ve called when he is busy or has time to talk. Less than 45 seconds and with 100% accuracy!) “Rapid cognition” is what it’s called.

And it turns out, according to a report of research by Mark Buchanan that it’s not content nearly as much as it is intent that we most pay attention to. The unconscious and instinctual parts of our brains (so, without our awareness!) instantly (think Malcolm Gladwell’s, Blink) make positive (this is good – let’s make this decision) and negative (could signal danger – avoid!) choices.

Increase your ability to engage without words and you can count on more persuasive presentations, more successful conversations and greater influence in everything you do.

4 Proven Tips to Increase your Ability to Engage by 87%
Based on combined research from MIT and a slew of others, you can increase your ability to engage when you:

1. Mirror others patterns.
We do this intuitively with people we know and like and it’s the basis for NLP (neuro linguistic programming). Mirroring means that if the other person is a slow talker, then in an effort to help them feel comfortable with us, we slow our pace to almost match theirs. If they are enthusiastic, we pump up our levels to reach theirs. Mirroring increases trust because (and this is an unconscious and instinctual brain choice!) we simply find it easier to like people who are like us. (Caveman: You- friend; You – enemy. Grunt.)

2. Exude a confident (not cocky!) conversational tone.
Others relax when they feel confident that we know what we’re talking about. They can focus more on what we have to say and are more comfortable engaging. (Naturally, this doesn’t mean that we can act like we know stuff we don’t! They won’t be relaxed if they [unconsciously and instinctually] feel/think they are being snowed.)

3. Use authentic empathy in your tone of voice.
Empathy is an other person (think customer-centric) approach. Truly empathetic people care deeply about how the other person is feeling. When the other person grasps this (yup – unconsciously and instinctually), they are happier to engage. Conveying your willingness to step back so that they feel comfortable is a practical way to communicate empathy.

4. Control the pace of the conversation.
Once the other person is engaged, it’s important to return to a natural pace. When the other person begins to authentically mimic and mirror our communication style, they are fully engaged.

Did you notice the pattern? Engaging others requires that you help them feel comfortable with you. We’ve always known that it’s “not what you say, but how you say it.” When you have something to say, and say it well, engagement and persuasion comes easily.

Try this and report on your success!

Leave a Reply