The easy way to turn a stranger into a friend
My friend Sarah Jones (from Introverted Alpha) and I were talking last week at my apartment here in SF. And we had a long conversation about how there are a lot of ‘bad’ coaches out there.
Well, if you’ve ever had a bad experience with a coach, it sucks. They might spoon-feed answers to you, leaving you more confused. They might put words in your mouth, making you feel defensive. They might criticize you in a way that ‘seems’ like tough love, but is actually judgment that doesn’t help you at all.
And both of us were pissed.
Because for 1, the fact that there are other bad coaches out there makes us look bad. It’s like when you were a little kid and it was 1 or 2 kids who got you ALL in time-out. Especially since so many people could benefit from coaching, people are 20x more skeptical about who to work with and if they’re making the right decision. (And for what it’s worth, you absolutely should take the time to think about working with the right person)
But there’s a golden lesson in here for anyone who’s interested in turning strangers into friends, and doing it in half the time you normally would.
See, when you have a ‘bad’ coach, they don’t really listen to you. They just tell you what they think is right, make a lot of assumptions about who they *think* you are, and say “Next!”.
Just like when you’re in a conversation with a new person, and you can just TELL they’re not ‘really’ listening to you. You can also tell when they give you backhanded compliments like “Wow! Didn’t expect you to be this nice” [which a lot of attractive women get, because most people think we’re bitchy], or when they ask you a leading question like: “So you must be really angry about that, huh?”
When you get responses like these from people, they are signs that they’re not paying attention. And this is the quickest way to LOSE a friend, and MISS an opportunity to turn an acquaintance into a future dinner guest.
Why is this the case? Let’s look at it with the lens of logic.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and a very successful entrepreneur said: “I want to be around people who make me feel good. I want to be around people I can dream with.” And this guy isn’t some rookie off the block. He’s in his 50s and hangs out with guys like Elon Musk.
Notice how he didn’t say…
“I want to be around people who make $1mm a year”
“I want to be around people who like to schmooze and are extroverted”
Or “I want to be around people who dress in a certain brand”
So many of us think that in order to have top notch social skills, it means we have to fit a certain ‘image’. People don’t sit down and write: “I want only extroverted friends, who wear red ties, and like Don Perignon”
Because You Know What Matters More?
Being able to connect on a deep, emotional level.
Because you ever notice how you wonder why your interactions linger on the surface and never go any deeper?
That is not a function of what kind of shirt you have on.
It’s about if you’re truly listening to the other person. If you feel curious about them. If you find common things to connect on.
But Hold On Right There
I already know what you’re thinking.
‘Fluffy advice, Fel! Are you some regurgitated version of Dale Carnegie?” ← I would actually consider that a compliment.
I already know that saying “connect on a deep, emotional level” is like telling a dolphin trainer to just “get the dolphin to do what you want it to do”. To anyone who’s a master at it, you get it. To anyone who wants to improve, this sounds like an episode of Vague Advice From Hell. (And on today’s show, we’ll come up with as many platitudes as possible so you become confused, frazzled, and insecure!)
Let’s get serious. (Although let’s also have future episodes of Vague Advice From Hell for light entertainment)
This is exactly why I’m about to break down just ONE of those things so you can go ‘out in the field’ and practice today.
Because remember how I mentioned at the beginning of this email that a common characteristic of ‘bad’ coaches is that they’re not really listening?
Well, the more we come into contact with people like that, the less safe we feel to open up to them and reveal personal things about ourselves.
But this is the art of emotional connection.
It’s exactly like when I coach my clients, my job is not only to listen, but to listen so deeply that I can help the other person see the things they can’t see themselves. Which may mean asking them the right questions. And even revealing personal things about myself.
Because it can’t just be you listening to the other person and never revealing anything about yourself…
Nor can it be you asking question after question (even if you want to show that person you’re interested in them)
It means you have to show people who YOU are, too. Warts and all.
But because this freaks a lot of people out– ‘what if people will use my personal information against me? — our goal today is ONE tiny step that will get you BIG results. At the least — better results than you’ve been getting before.
So Here’s What I Want You To Consider Trying Today:
- The next conversation you have with a stranger or ‘surface level’ acquaintance yours, I want you to reveal just 1 small personal detail about yourself.
This could mean: When someone asks ‘How are you?’ instead of saying ‘Good’ you tell them how you really feel. Are you tired? Hungry? Thrilled? What’s the truth?
This could also mean: You reveal a challenge you’re having in your life. Nothing TMI, but maybe you’re doing a challenging project at work, maybe your kids are adorable (and also giving you a run for your money), or you have a networking challenge. Keep it simple, but just a LITTLE more revealing than normal.
What success looks like: If you feel like you had a deeper sense of connection with the other person or you felt more engaged in the conversation, that is success. Especially pay attention to how the other person reacts when you talk about yourself. [Did they then reveal something more personal about themselves, too?]
Scared to do this? That’s normal, too. I like to remember that not only is ‘magic’ on the other side of fear, but also one first step is enough to get you started.
And if you do this challenge? Reply back to me and let me know how it goes. Results are the only thing that matter here, and I love to hear about them.
PS: If you’re interested in going deeper into turning acquaintances into friends and building trust, feeling like you’re a remarkable and interesting person, and taking your social skills to the next level, you might be interested in a course that I periodically invite people into called ‘Be Magnetic’. Send me a reply back that says “I’m interested in Be Magnetic!” if you want to learn more.