I’ve now had the time to hang out with some great people in NYC.
This weekend’s Halloween party. They said my natural skin tone was suitable for being a vampire.
At a road trip to Sleepy Hollow an hour up north from NYC. Photo: Ross Mayfield
Swedes say that Americans are a certain way. Americans say that New Yorkers are a certain way.
When we think about it, every single person we know has traits and preferences that differ from everyone else’s.
So if every single person is different, why should we even improve ourselves or try to be a certain way? After all, it seems like everyone has different preferences anyway.
These differences between us become even more clear when we move to a new country like I just did.
As it turns out, some traits are universal among all humans on earth. (Scientists call these anthropologically universal traits.)
When we understand these universal human traits, we can learn to connect and make friends with anyone independent of their culture, age, gender or personality type.
Understanding how people work on this fundamental level is the key to success in life. This has helped me tremendously and enabled me to make friends from all walks of life all over the world.
Here are some traits that differ between cultures and humans:
However, when it comes to needs, we’re suddenly very similar. Meet a select few of these needs, and you can connect with anyone.
In order to bond with virtually anyone in the world, we need to do three things:
1. Help people see themselves in you
A universal human trait is the need to be able to relate to others. We like those we can relate to.
If we want to connect with someone, we want to find commonalities with that person.
This helps us understand that there’s no optimal “way to be”: Loud isn’t better than quiet, energetic isn’t better than calm. The secret of socially gifted people is the ability bring forth the part of themselves that suits the moment.
Here are 3 powerful skills to help us build rapport with anyone:
- Picking up on the social energy level of the one you’re talking to and being able to align with it.
- Being able to find mutual interests and talk about those.
- Getting to know the person’s dreams and ideas to see if you have something in common.
A common mistake: We need to be able to disagree with someone when it matters. For example, when not doing so would compromise our values. What we don’t want is to mindlessly disagree or bring up differences as a way of communicating. That does nothing more than creating an invisible divide between us.
2. Make them feel seen
They say that Bill Clinton didn’t just charm women, he charmed everyone. People who’ve been in his proximity especially talked about his ability to make you feel seen.
Here’s what he did:
He kept and maintained eye contact with the person he was talking to, even when there were distractions around him. Every moment with him was YOUR moment.
He showed that he listened to every word someone said with his facial expression. Talking to him, you always knew that you were being heard.
It’s far too common that “listening” turns into waiting for our turn to talk. Instead, we want to cultivate an interest in the person we’re talking to.
3. Make them feel liked
The safest path through life is to, figuratively AND literally speaking, wait for others to smile at us before we smile at them.
However, to be able to connect with anyone, you want to show that you like people as if you take for granted that they’ll like you.
Rather than contemplating if you should nod to that person you just met briefly the other day, do this instead: Give that person a sincere smile. Say Hi. Ask a sincere question about how they are doing or what they are up to. If you enjoyed your last conversation with them, let them know.
In summary: Help others see themselves in you. Make them feel seen. Make them feel liked.
How YOU can apply this in your life
What is a subtle change to your approach you can do in your next social interaction?
It could be a warm smile, a positive comment, a caring question, giving someone your full attention, or paying extra attention to someone’s energy level and trying to match it.
A great exercise to internalize these subtle changes is to write down in the comments below this article what you want to do differently.
Write down a short reply below and hit the comment button. I’ll read every comment!