You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

5 Ways to Instantly Connect With Anyone You Meet Break bad communication habits and gain trust with these subtle techniques.

By Graham Young

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

How we communicate largely determines what we experience in life. It influences how much money we make, every relationship we have and where we go in our career.

Our income can be limited if we are unable to pitch our product to a client, ask for a desired salary in an interview or request a raise from management. On the other hand, the depth of our relationships will be constrained if we don't have the confidence to approach new people or have the ability to resolve conflict and express ourselves.

Related: 9 Phrases Smart People Never Use In Conversation

Yet how often do we actually practice this art? Most of the time we tend to just wing it and learn as we go. Unfortunately, throughout our lives, most of us pick up some devastating yet subtle habits that can ruin conversations. And the biggest problem is that we think some of the habits are good communication tactics.

When I coach leaders and other professionals on how to elevate human performance in business, I come across these far too often. Understanding how human behavior relates to your specific business can be a big competitive advantage.

Here are five tips to help you instantly connect with anyone you meet:

1. The human brain picks up on subtle cues.

When someone is talking, their subconscious is on the look out to see if people are interested or not. It's a defense mechanism to ensure we don't get embarrassed or hurt from our environment. Our brain will look at everything from body language, facial gestures to the words that are spoken.

When listening to someone, your eyes should never look away for longer than a few seconds. The minute you start staring at other people, TV screens or constantly looking elsewhere, you are sabotaging the conversation. It makes the other person feel like what they are saying is not important and can be a real shot to their confidence. Be aware of how you listen to others, a good idea is to ask close friends and family if there are any things you do that throw them off when they're speaking.

2. Don't relate everything to you.

If you are in a conversation and someone is talking, let them have the stage. Many people feel that by interrupting a story and relating it to their own life, is a good way to enhance the connection. While this is true when done sparingly, there is nothing more frustrating when it's overdone.

You can't build trust with someone if they feel that every time they start talking, you are going to jump in. Not only does it interrupt their focus and retract their emotional investment in the conversation, but going forward they will be hesitant to talk at all.

Related: 12 Mind Tricks That Will Make People Like You and Help You Get Ahead

3. Watch for filler comments.

I have a close friend who I love calling out when he does this. I will be chatting with him on the phone or in person, and despite his best intentions, it is incredibly obvious when he stops listening.

He tends to overuse filler comments that don't align with what I'm talking about. Filler comments are typical things we say to show someone that we are listening such as "yeah," "oh cool," "gotcha," "interesting," etc. However, when they are used to pretend like you're listening, it can be very obvious and distracting.

With multi-tasking at all time high, we've all been conditioned to do this at some point. However, if you are not called out on it, you may never realize how disrespectful and obvious it is to the other person. As a general rule: Always listen to others, the same way you expect to be listened to.

4. Don't pretend like you know everything.

When talking with others, we often want to show that we are educated and knowledgeable. It can be hard for some people to admit they are learning something new for the first time. Many leaders find it difficult to take advice, because they feel they should know everything and be the one giving guidance.

On the other side, most employees are eager to prove themselves, so they try not to expose any of their weaknesses. However, we have all been in a conversation where we think we are bringing up something important, only to hear the other person barely acknowledge it.

It doesn't matter your title or experience, if you want to connect with someone or influence them, you must make them feel valued. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie's principle #9 is as follows: "Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely." When you let someone know they are providing value, it makes them feel good and enables them to open up more. So be aware of your ego, and try to stop it from controlling your behavior.

5. Plan ahead.

If you are someone who gets nervous or freezes up during conversations, plan your questions in advance. This isn't to automate your interactions and turn you into a robot. It's to ease your mind so you can get out of your head, be confident and enjoy a natural free-flowing conversation.

You can get through any conversation by asking the right questions. So have three open-ended, thought-provoking questions for every situation you may be in. You could split the potential interactions into:

A. A networking event or potential business opportunity

B. Meeting someone new at a social event

C. Bumping into a friend

The key is to ask questions that are not invasive but do make the person have to stop and think about their response. The great thing is that not only will your conversation be more interesting -- but you will be much more memorable.

Related: When Overcommunicating Can Do More Harm Than Good

Graham Young

Keynote Speaker

Graham Young writes to simplify the psychology and neuroscience behind human performance. He has spoken on stage to thousands of people, provided corporate training to some of the largest companies in North America and written in publications including Entrepreneur, TIME and Business Insider.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.

Branding

94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.

Travel

Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.

Marketing

I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.