Can’t connect with people? Try this one easy trick.

As a quiet person I often feel really awkward around people, and quite frankly, a little bit boring. I just don’t know how to connect with people in the same way that a confident person seems to. I have often watched people at events and parties and marvelled at the way that they work the room with ease. Everybody that they come into contact with seems to be putty in their hands and I wonder how on earth they manage it.

This has meant that I have spent quite some time studying them to try and pick out exactly what it is that they do that is so different from what I do. And there is one striking difference that I have noticed. I quite obviously want to impress people, and with them, (even though they still want to impress people) it is far less glaringly obvious.

How not to go about it….

To illustrate, I think it’s best to look at an example of when I have done this spectacularly wrong. A couple of years back I decided that I wanted to earn a shed load of money so I got a job as a recruitment consultant. It was my job to go out and win over the financial directors at local businesses so that they would turn to me when they needed to recruit. I was woefully bad at the job and crashed out after eleven weeks having achieved absolutely no sales. It is only recently that I have started to see where things were going so wrong.

Back then I was drinking so I had some serious scarcity issues, completely believing that there isn’t enough to go around for everyone. Therefore, whenever I went in for business I felt absolutely desperate. My mind was clinging to the fact that I needed to connect with the person and get the sale as there would be nothing else for me if I lost it. That put a hell of a lot of pressure on me and it showed. I would go into the meeting terrified that I would not be able to impress the other person and it was obvious that they could see it. Hence the reason that they would shake my hand at the end of the meeting and I would never hear from them again. Because why would they want to hire a woman who was so blatantly desperate for the business?

A change in mindset changed how I connect with people

Since putting down the drink, a lot of things have changed but two of the big things are that:

  1. My values have changed so I’m not so engrossed by the thought of money. I know that I can survive on what I earn so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t earn the bucket loads that I used to chase after. As long as I can put a roof over my head and some food in the cupboards, I’m not going to die. And;
  2. I try not to worry so much about whether or not people like me. So if that one financial director decides that he doesn’t like my sense of humour or the colour of my shoes, it’s not the end of the world. There are seven billion people on the planet and so there are bound to be at least a few that really think the world of me!

So changing my mindset was the first step and this was then followed by a little trick that I have since tried out and it really does work. It was so simple that I didn’t believe it would have any effect on how well I connected with people.

Basically, all it involves doing is getting the person that you are engaging with to impress YOU. I couldn’t understand how this could work as my confidence was low and I didn’t know why anyone would want to try and impress me, but it really worked a treat.

Next time you go into a room and you’re nervous that nobody is going to connect with you, find someone to talk to and try to imagine that you have five minutes to learn a bit about them so that you could introduce them to an audience. This encourages you to start thinking “what can this person say that impresses me?” rather than “what do I have to say that will impress them?”

This also means that the other person feels listened to and this makes them feel valuable. Normally, in a networking environment people are all wanting to talk about themselves so if you’re the one that is bucking the trend you are going to be far more memorable.

The caveat

The only thing that you need to remember with this technique is that it still pays to be kind. It’s fun to ask yourself what this person does that is impressive but don’t go in with the mentality that you are better than them or that you want to disregard them if they aren’t the most impressive person in the room. Liking the people around you, in turn, makes you more likeable so it’s always worth being the nice guy.

This also leads on to the point that you shouldn’t just go in thinking “what can I get out of this exchange?” It’s sometimes far better to think about what you may be able to give (and this is aside from the services you provide as a part of your business). So you might be able to start talking to the stranger who looks like they’re standing awkwardly in the corner, or you could put a person in contact with somebody you know who could be a help in their career. Neither of these give you any immediate benefit but you never know what it may lead to further down the line. Events are far more fun if you are focusing less on what monetary value you are going to get out of it. There is a reason that surprising benefits come out of meetings where you didn’t expect there to be any value. It’s because the real you can shine through and ultimately that is what people want to see.

Give it a try and see if it helps you to connect with people

So next time you’re at a networking event or business meeting , try it. Ask questions as though you are going to introduce the person on stage and try to forget about the transactional nature of the meeting. Look for things you can give for free, at no cost to yourself, and imagine that everybody is already your friend. I promise you that it’ll work and you might even find yourself having some fun.

Want to work smarter? Stop asking questions…

I want to see people start to do well and one of the biggest problems that I see with people who are a little more timid is that there is a fear to take the next step, purely because you’re worried about going to go a little bit wrong. And how do we get around making a mistake? By learning from others and asking lots of questions, of course.

Now this is excellent advice, especially if you are new to a subject area and there is a lot to learn. It seems silly to make a whole load of mistakes that somebody else has already made when you could just ask the question and avoid a whole load of aggravation. But there comes a point where you are asking questions for the sake of just asking questions and this just makes no sense.

When I decided to swim the channel for the first time I had very little knowledge of how to go about it. I had been a swimmer as a kid, so I knew what I was letting myself in for physically, but I didn’t know about any of the logistics and the planning. However, I knew that I could get lost in tonnes of advice and ultimately talk myself out of the idea of doing the swim at all. So what I did was sign up for the swim and then start my research afterwards. And even then, I focused on getting myself into training above asking any questions of other people. It didn’t take a genius to work out that lots of long distance was the way to go; I didn’t need to hang around in a chat group to find that out.

However, you would be amazed how many people there are out there that do hang around in said chat rooms, asking how many lengths they should be swimming during each session and a week by week breakdown of it all. These are the people who generally do end up talking themselves out of it. Or worse still, they sign up and then fail because they’ve been procrastinating for so long.

It seems like basic common sense but sometimes we need a good shake to remind us what is sensible. I got across to France with a year of training and no faffing around with Facebook groups that just would have drained my energy. My personal opinion is that a lot of these people on there, want to find an excuse to not go ahead with the swim. And this is the case with so many things in life. There are a lot of people who want to find that one piece of information that will make it OK for them to back out. Do you want that? Are you actually hoping for a reason not to go ahead with your dream? Perhaps the thought of possibly failing is too painful to deal with so sabotage is the better option. Or perhaps you don’t want to put in the hard work?

By all means, build a supportive community of friends involved in the same thing and get yourself educated enough to decide whether or not you should spend time and energy on a project. But once you’ve made that decision, just go for it! It’s fine to be worried and anxious, but nothing great has ever been achieved without taking some risks and making a few mistakes of your own along the way.

With that in mind, here are five ways to stop yourself from getting carried away with too many questions:

  • Read one or two good books on the subject and then stop! If you pick wisely you should have a good enough outline to get started without the need to read a whole library.
  • Limit the number of support groups you join. This is particularly the case if they are on social media because you can lose days looking at every single post and not concentrating on your own task in hand.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. We all make them and as long as you learn from it, there’s no need to become over reliant on other people. Leaning on people too much after a set back only encourages us to waste more time.
  • Devote chunks of time to solely working. If it’s a clothing line that you are building then say that in a five hour day, four of those hours have to be spent creating and being a business person and only one of those hours can be spent speaking to other business owners about what they would do in any given situation.
  • Really celebrate your successes because this will make you more confident. And it is confidence that will help you to trust your own instincts. If you have this confidence then you won’t need to turn to other people.

So get your head down and go for it. It seems like such a shame that your good ideas might be put to waste because you’ve spent too much time asking questions and not getting stuff done. I want to see all of you do amazingly well and I hope that this has given you some motivation.

Do you worry that you don’t have the knowledge to get started and what would be the thing that helps you to get over it?

Have you ever given up on a dream because you’ve entered into information overload or worried that you could never have enough information?

If you could start anything tomorrow without the need to do any long and boring stretches of research, what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Want to be successful? Then be a bitch…. (plus a bonus poem)

Or that might be what it feels like sometimes, doesn’t it? If you’re a quiet and sensitive person. If you’re living your life in a way that involves not stomping all over people’s hopes, dreams and self confidence, it can sometimes feel like you are not deserving of success and happiness.

I was in the grips of alcohol addiction when I first watched The Devil Wears Prada. I was therefore craving money and attention and general adoration from everyone around me and so there was something about this movie that just resonated with me and everything that I wanted. I looked at Meryl Streep’s character like she was some sort of goddess; the epitome of what I wanted to be. She was rich and successful and everybody worshipped the ground that she walked on.

I also didn’t seem to be aware that the reason these people all bowed down to her like she was a goddess was because they were actually terrified of her. The respect people had for her was born out of fear and it’s not like anyone would ever want to go out to the pub with her after work. She wasn’t loved like a friend or a mother figure. And people only wanted to impress her so that they didn’t get stomped on, or because they wanted to impress her to advance their own careers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where Meryl’s character was a jolly and rotund woman who dished out hugs and invited people into her office for cups of tea when they were stressed? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate kindness rather than fear? Is that even possible or would society fall to pieces if we took away those ball breakers who ‘make things happen’?

I would love to see that happen and I hope that my little online community and friend group can help to make this a reality. I don’t see why empathy and kindness can’t win the day and I would love to hear people’s thoughts and ideas on whether this could be encouraged. Because now that I am free from my addiction and not so focused on power and money I realise the level of misery that ball breakers can inflict is high and unnecessary! Why spread all that pain when it’s not needed?

So let’s all pull together and try to help the nice ones rise to the top. And here are a couple of tips for being kind in the work place (or anywhere else in the world):

  1. Try not to get on other people’s wick,

Because it just makes you look like quite the little dick.

2. If you have nothing nice to say,

Just save it for another bloody day.

3. If something said, hits a little nerve,

Don’t hate back, but smother it with lurve.

4. Rise above the gossip and the hate,

It’s not worth it, don’t take the fucking bait!

5. And lift the the nice ones way up high,

Because manners, empathy and love are never things that you can buy.

Find your ONE person

So I’m a creative type and that means I like to make things. I like to make lots of things and pump them out into the world. And that is really fun but sometimes I really want success and I just don’t get it in the way that I sometimes want. I sometimes want numbers and I want them as high as possible.

But like so many people I don’t get those high numbers. So why would I want to carry on? It’s because I really want to touch a person’s heart and it doesn’t matter if it is just one person. I want to know that at least one person has read my work or seen a picture that I’ve drawn and it’s made them feel better. I don’t really care all that much if my instagram has less than 100 followers, as long as one of those followers smiles when they see what I post.

I heard a writer once say that they were at a signing and somebody came up to them and said that their book changed there life. And she said that was better than making the New York Times best seller list, and that was great. So find your ONE person and be grateful that you could have that effect on someone.

Becoming a success when you’re just a bit meh

There are so many times in life that I have been brushed off because I’m not ruthless enough. It sometimes feels like you have absolutely no chance of going anywhere if you’re considered too quiet or too sensitive or not as pretty as the other girls. If you’re just described a ‘nice’ it can be bloody hard to rise to the top and I’d really like it to stop. I’d love to be able to join together with other people who have found themselves in the same boat and we can share our experiences and give each other a little boost.

In this video I have a little rant about how angry it makes me that our gifts (which are really valuable) are just discarded and how our soft skills are not appreciated at all. I hope that it resonates with a few people out there and that at least one or two people can join me in my slightly ‘meh’ version of an uprising!