Why Arent You Talking to Me?

Your nonverbal communication talks before you do. Only seven percent of interpersonal communication is transmitted verbally-the remaining ninety-three percent speaks for itself.

And, because nonverbal communication is learned and practiced on an unconscious level, you won't be aware that you silently scream, "Please don't talk to me!"

When you enter a room full of employees, clients or friends, each of them intuitively asks one crucial question: are you approachable? If the answer is yes, the conversations in which you engage will be initiated with ease and comfort. You make new friends. You create new contacts. And you will not have to suffer through another meeting clamped to the snack table. However, if the answer is no, there won't be any conversations! As a result, you miss opportunities to create connections and meet valuable people.

It is vital to understand some of the non-receptive behaviors that hinder your approachability. If you avoid the following six barriers to communication, you will become more accessible to the people around you. As a result, you will welcome better business and social opportunities to transform strangers into valuable connections.

Eye Avoidance
To start a conversation with a person whose eyes are fixated on the ground is about as easy as hurdling over that person! This is why numbered lights always reside at the highest part of the elevator door-so you don't have to talk to the person next to you! You gaze at the beautiful yellow numbers ascending to the penthouse while your conversation plummets to the basement!

Your eye contact is the single most effective indicator that conversation is desirable. When you avoid it, you will be perceived as anxious, uninterested and bored with the conversation and the company.

When your eyes are focused up, down, away, at your watch, at your notes or simply off into space, nobody is going to talk to you. It's as simple as that. Remember, eyes always talk. And they always provide valuable cues for approachability.

Lack of Smiling
If you've ever asked yourself, "Why isn't anyone talking to me?" odds are it's because you didn't smile. Of the ninety-three percent of communication that is expressed nonverbally, fifty-five percent is through your facial expressions.

When you don't smile, you look unresponsive and unreceptive to the people around you. You look unfriendly. You look like you don't want to be wherever you are!

Before you say hello, before you shake hands, and before you even decide to talk to someone, smile. Smile all the time. Smile until your face hurts! Then smile some more. Remember, a smile is your messenger of goodwill. A smile is your free invitation to anyone who wants to have a conversation with you. And a smile, above all, is the most contagious thing in the world.

Hand and Arm Placement
As the old saying goes, "You cannot say nothing." Nonverbal communication expresses emotion, conveys attitude and communicates your personal traits more than any language in the world! A common vehicle for this expression is through hand and arm placement.

Don't place your hands over your face, mouth or anywhere close to your head. If you bite your nails, play with your hair or tap your fingers against your mouth, forget about it! People assume you're engrossed in deep thought and unavailable for conversation.

Also beware of the most common, most physical nonverbal barrier: crossing your arms. Even if you're cold, don't do it. People won't want to "bother" you. They will form the impression that you are defensive, nervous, judgmental, close minded or skeptical. Honestly, do you want to approach someone like that?

Posture
Body language is the oldest language. For example, have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who sat down while you were stood up? It's not easy! If you close your shoulders, turn down your wrists and palms or lean away from someone, you position yourself in a "rejection pose." This type of closed body language emits an aura of disinterest. If you are not physically open to the people around you, they will physically close the conversational door on your face!

Be certain to keep your posture commensurate with the people around you. This makes everyone feel equal. No one will be intimidated. And no one will be excluded--especially you!

Silence
Silence is a negative influence in the communication process. It creates tension and uneasiness. It makes you look shy, which isn't necessarily true; but your silence will also be perceived by others as an indicator of disinterest or disagreement.

In regards to silence, one of the caveats to start conversations is something called diffusion of involvement. In other words, everybody thinks someone else will be the first to say hello, and then nobody says hello. And then, silence. Therefore, the longer you wait to interject, ask a question, say hello or break the ice, the more uncomfortable and unproductive the situation will become.

Involvement Shields
Why do people read the paper, listen to headphones or talk on their cell phones in at work or in public? To catch up on the news, relax and stay in contact with each other is to be human. But these involvement shields significantly decrease your approachability and result in missed opportunities to create connections.

When you use something to protect yourself from involvement with people, knowingly or not, you put up a nonverbal barrier. These barriers tell others two things: 1) you're busy, and 2) to start a conversation with you will be an exercise in futility.

Next time you attend a meeting or event, be careful not to spend your "socializing time" clamped to the snack table. Or the brochure table. Or the bar. These are safe havens for the reticent. And by "safe," I mean silent.

The only thing that stands in your way of transforming people into mutually valuable connections is you. With proper hand, arm and body position, you appear open and ready to talk. With proper eye contact and a contagious smile, you come off as friendly and polite. And, with a continual desire to break the silence without shielding yourself from interaction, others will be happy to step onto your front porch!

Some people will enter into your life and change it forever. Your newest client, best friend, most valuable colleague or even the strangest of strangers awaits the opportunity to interact with, offer help to, or learn from you. Every meeting, event, room, restaurant or public place in which you socialize offers these people to you for the low price of one attribute: your approachability.

© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.

In The News:


Pensacola News Journal

Find your power: Networking a must for businesswomen
Pensacola News Journal
Meeting people and expanding your circle of business contacts and friends can be beneficial to your career. The more people you know, the better your chances for opportunities. The Women's Business Lunch (WBL) networking group was founded in 2004.


Forbes

Is Dell Opening Networking's Pandora's Box?
Forbes
Very fitting as companies like Cisco Systems Cisco Systems are trying to keep the networking box closed and others like Juniper Networks Juniper Networks and Alcatel-Lucent Alcatel-Lucent are trying to walk the fine line between open and closed systems.


Vertical dimensions to social networking
Financial Times
Vertical social networks, which focus on a single profession, including Doximity, Edmodo, which targets the education community, and Spiceworks, for IT professionals, have each raised millions of dollars in funding. Venture capitalists are betting that ...


Lifehacker Australia

Focus On Food To Be Better At Networking
Lifehacker Australia
Harvard University's “Social Capital Building Toolkit” (which is a researcher-y way of saying “networking”) offers a number of tips for improving your networking skills. One of the key ones is to look for opportunities that involve food: hosting ...


Pertino Jumps On The "Networking For Docker" Stage
Forbes
Considering the amazing uptake that Docker has received since its inception, it is understandable to think that every possible issue related to the project has been solved. But when one reflects upon the fact that Docker is only a year or so old, it ...
Pertino Simplifies Networking of Docker Containers Across Any Cloud AnywhereMarketwired (press release)

all 7 news articles »

Forbes

Want More Work Contacts? Try The 80/20 Rule For Unselfish Networking
Forbes
By now you've probably heard the cardinal rule of networking a million times: If you want to make a killer impression, you need to know exactly what to say when you meet someone new. And we'll bet that's why you've spent hours brushing up on answers to ...


New York Times

The Big Bang of Social Networking
New York Times
It mirrored the original design of the Internet, a network of networks. They would give the code away free and invite other hackers to make it better. Perhaps they could scrape together enough money to pay for gas and to keep themselves in ramen for ...


5 Tips for the Networking-Averse
U.S. News & World Report (blog)
First things first: You have to learn about upcoming events, such as conferences, professional association meetings and meetups. Ask people you know in your field if there are events they would recommend. The more focused the networking group, the more ...


Afraid Of Networking? Tips To Make It Fun And Worthwhile
Forbes
I admit that I'm one of those people who always felt like running in the opposite direction whenever someone mentioned the word, “networking.” That was mainly because I wasn't sure where to network or how to even approach the concept of “networking ...


Pacific Alliance stresses importance of business networking
Fox News Latino
"Networking is having the awareness that I don't know everything and that I can make valuable connections, whether of buyers, investors, ideas or alliances; it's having the awareness to understand that I have something to gain when I link up with ...

and more »
Google News

Measuring Value for a Networking Group

How do you measure a group's worth to your organization?It... Read More

Ask for Referrals: And Get the Answer You Want!

Why are people scared to ask for a referral? Is... Read More

Planting the Seeds of Greatness - Make it Great Newsletter #7

Thought of the WeekThis week, I'd like to challenge you... Read More

Client Attraction Technique #2: Networking

One of the most cost effective ways of generating leads... Read More

Five Steps for Expanding Your Customer Base with Guerilla Networking

As a single company, it is impossible to provide your... Read More

How to Shmooze

Definition: talk idly or casually in a friendly way Value:... Read More

62 Ways to MAXIMIZE Your Approachability

If you walk into your local bookstore and pick up... Read More

Network Marketing

Network marketing is the ordinary person's best opportunity to make... Read More

Joining Industry Specific Organizations Has Many Benefits

Recently, while providing an up-and-coming Virtual Assistant (VA) and small... Read More

10 Terrific Tips to Talk Your Way to the Top

What is "the top" anyway? According to society, "top" has... Read More

Who Are You and What The Heck Do You Do?

A few years ago, I was attending a family function... Read More

Building Bridges - The Importance of Being Connected Where You Live

As a Young Professional (YP) in the up-and-coming city of... Read More

Business Networking - Common Myths and Realities

Can we agree about the meaning of networking? I don't... Read More

Putting The Fun Back In Networking

Networking is one of the most important skills a person... Read More

Which Networking Events Should You Attend?

How does one determine which are the best events to... Read More

Network Your Way to Success, and Remember: Its Not About You!

Quote of the week"The answer is always no...unless you ask."... Read More

Jump Start Your Network

Networking is often identified as a key business building activity... Read More

Unforgettable First Impressions Part 2: Its All About Them!

Jean de la Bruyere said, "The great gift of conversation... Read More

Strategic Networking: Take the Shortest Path to Success

Do you use Ryze or LinkedIn to promote your web... Read More

Marketing Essentials: The 15 Second Elevator Speech

You're at a conference. Someone steps in the elevator, notices... Read More

Lesson 14 - Whats In A Handshake?

The StoryAs a child growing up, one of the many... Read More

Online Business Networking: How Personal is Too Personal?

Online networking has opened up some fantastic business opportunities for... Read More

How to Turn Water into Lemonade by Giving a Flavored Answer to a Fruitless Question

I remember the first time I opened the fridge to... Read More

Increasing the ROI on Your Networking

Networking requires an investment of time, money and effort. Here... Read More

When Gifts Say More

What's a gift mean? If you're like me, you probably... Read More