I’ll admit it if you will – many times I’ve been the person you don’t want to meet at the cocktail party.
You know, that person, the one who talks at you the whole time about their job, dropping names like they are going out of fashion with an exciting story that always trumps anything anyone else says, and finally topping it off by getting your name wrong, if they are able to remember any of it that is!
Whilst most people who are reading this are now recalling the last experience they had with that person themselves, it might well be the case that – shock, horror – you are that person to those around you at cocktails, and the digital drink that we Twitter.
Are You That Klingon?
As I sit here, I’m watching an episode of Star Trek in which a Klingon is asked to be the first officer on the Enterprise for an intergalactic exchange programme. (It is related – stick with me!) The tension and the moral of the story is that the Klingon assumes that is disciplinarian leadership style is just what the humans on the Enterprise need, and thus struggles to adapt himself in a way that will get the crew behind him. In short, he’s expecting his environment to adapt to him, without any thought to adapting himself to his environment.
So let me make my not so subtle point: when you don’t adapt to your relational environment, you’re that person. Some call it having a low EQ, some low emotional intelligence, others self-consumed, and others just call it anti-social or plain due.
Whether online or offline, when someone disproportionately talks or tweets about themselves it leaves them appearing as self-centered. Yesterday we discussed the “horns and halos principle” in which the tiny sample that someone sees of you in 140 characters or with a handshake is used to ‘fill in the blanks’ and give your horns or halos based on the sample.
Our Self-Centric World
If I try to work out the reasons why I’ve been that person, especially online, it’s because we’re so crowded that we feel we have to beat our chests in order to get heard. And in our content-driven online world, it is the easiest thing to get sucked into the gospel of me, me, me, me.
But when we feel we have to ‘big ourselves up’, what is it we are really trying to achieve? It’s actually an incredible simple human motivation that we all share and is right for us to feel:
How To Really Be Remebered
If we really want to leave an impression – whether it’s a re-visit to our website, another tweet to engage us, or a phone call after you left someone your number – the trick is in engaging the feelings of the beholder.
Making someone feel special is the most powerful way to have someone remember you, and when it comes to making someone feel special, it’s not even necessary to speak a word. I’ll tell you how I’ve learned how to do it:
To make people feel valued, talk to them about themselves.
- Use Twitter to ask people questions and find out more about them. Ask people what their interests and passions are rather than just what their jobs are.
- Use Facebook to ask questions that people can comment on, allowing people to engage with each other and add to each other’s ideas.
- At dinner and cocktail parties, seek to be interested rather than interesting. Hint: people remember you better if they find out what you do by asking you, rather than you volunteering the information yourself.
- Use your blog to add value to people rather than just push content. The master of this is Robin Dickinson, whose Sharewords post and the comments that follow are a revelation in actually helping people.
Your Leading Thoughts
I’m keen to hear from you: how have you learnt to not be that person? Do you have any tips to share with the rest of us? (We could all use your help!)