Yesterday I met with a new networking contact. We sat at a small table in the lobby of a large hotel downtown and talked for about an hour. During that 60-minute period my colleague made eye contact with me for about 4 seconds. The rest of the time her eyes were darting at her shoes, over my left shoulder, at the ceiling, at people walking by….everywhere but at my eyes. It was weird because I kept trying to follow her gaze and establish contact….it didn’t go well….I was getting dizzy and having a hard time following the conversation. Finally, I gave up and zoned out. I came up with the idea to write this blog while she was talking to the chair next to me.
I’ve witnessed an epidemic of really awful face-to-face communications skills. Things like no eye contact and unprofessional body language have become common. I think we can all do better…so, here’s a refresher course on how to effectively communicate on a face-to-face basis:
#1. Concentrate on making eye contact…LOOK at the person you’re having a conversation with. Notice the color or their eyes and facial expressions.
#2. Try really hard to be interested in what the other person is saying. Listen for cues of when you can contribute to the information exchange.
#3. Smile every so often and nod your head….either in agreement or disagreement
#4. Try not to pick your nose (I’m not kidding! ), pick your teeth or any other part of your body.
#5 Pay attention to your nervous habits i.e. rocking back and forth or jiggling your leg….again, I’m not kidding…
I know I’m guilty of becoming lazy about my communication habits. Showing up and paying attention for each and every face-to-face encounter is always worth the investment of your time.