Meet as a Stranger, Leave as a Friend

Everyone has an invisible sign above his or her head that reads “Make me feel important”

I believe there is no greater skill one can acquire that can have a bigger impact in our lives than the ability to build an instant strong rapport with others; whether they are acquaintances, customers, employees, co-workers, neighbors, or total strangers.

Studies have repeatedly shown the happiest people are the ones with the most meaningful relationships. Yet too often we can be guilty of treating people we come in contact with everyday as a transaction. Rushing and missing an opportunity to build a connection that can potentially enrich both lives.

 

People don’t listen with the intent of understanding; they listen with the intent of replying
Scientists studied the human brain and found out it took a minimum of 0.6 seconds to formulate a response to something being said. Then they studied hundreds of conversations and found the average gap between people talking was 0.2 seconds.

How can it be that it takes the human brain 0.6 seconds to respond but people are responding in 0.2 seconds? Obviously people are formulating their response long before the other person is done speaking.

It is natural to be focused on our own lives, our experiences, and ourselves. But it is impossible to build an emotional connection with another person when we are just waiting for them to come up for a breath so we can get to whatever it is we want to talk about.
In order to build a connection, our goal must be that the other person leaves feeling better having had that interaction with you by putting the entire focus on them. When we aren’t anxious to tell our own story that is when the magic happens.

 

The greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of your attention
There is a great technique that has helped thousands of people keep the entire focus on the other person. I teach this technique to my employees, clients, my three boys, and I try to remind myself of it daily. If you have truly built a rapport with someone during a conversation, then you should know two or more things about their FORD:
  • Family
  • Occupation
  • Recreation
  • Dreams
If you can tell me two or more things about their FORD, you not only have a relationship, you own the relationship. FORD represents people’s hot buttons, what each individual cares about the most in their world. FORD is what they are passionate about, what makes them light up. Constantly using FORD keeps the focus of the conversation on them and not us.

“FORD is what they are passionate about, what makes them light up.”

You need to create a system for collecting and retrieving people’s FORD, whether it is a notepad, your iPhone contacts, or business software.
 
We use desk pads in our contact centers and for anyone who works in an office. Now, we don’t want employees asking a customer calling in to schedule an appointment about their FORD. That would be like a stalker checklist. But as most of you know, you don’t need to ask, people tend to over share. They will say, “I need to reschedule my 4 pm appointment on Wednesday because my daughter’s high school soccer team just made the district finals.” However, too often we quickly respond, “Ok, how about Thursday at 5?” Ducking and dodging away from excellent FORD being thrown at us because we are too task focused.

 

Priming your mind to see what has always been there
Have you ever bought a new car and were so excited because you had never seen that model in that specific color? Yet an hour later, you notice about a dozen of the same model and color on the road? Did a dozen other people have the same idea as you today and purchase that same color car? No! They were always out there. Your mind is now primed to see what has always been there. That is why using FORD tools when you are communicating with others is an excellent way to prime your mind to notice and hear things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

When my oldest son Johnni went off to college, he called me and told me that FORD was the best thing ever. I was stunned; he never listened to anything I had ever told him before. He then went on to tell me it is an amazing way to meet women. I told him to make it FORDS, with the S standing for shoes. Notice and compliment their shoes!

Whenever I travel with my three boys, we always play a game to see who can get the most personal information out of strangers we come in contact with. It is hilarious, my boys and I drilling the poor Uber driver, waitress or bellman. It is amazing what we learn and how well we get to know people in only a few minutes. Best of all, you can see how excited these people become when someone actually takes the time to show interest in them. We have some of our best memories from these encounters, we have laughed so hard, been inspired, even cried. We have even remained in contact with some.

If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone, with the goal of building a relationship, instead of trying to get something out of that person, the friendship ends up being the greatest reward.

 

Recommended Video Clip To Share With Your Team
Watch this 90-second video on the Power of FORD:

 

 

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.

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