Life is full of little situations that you encounter regularly. Some people don’t see these for the opportunities that they are: a chance to stand out, be different, and be memorable.
They’re a way to quickly built rapport with someone so they can think back later and say “Brian…hmm, yeah he was the guy who does [BLANK]” or “Barbara, oh yeah she is the gal who said [BLANK]”. You stood out enough to be remembered.
By breaking out of your comfort zone and doing something a little different than everyone else you can connect with new people on a regular basis.
- How’s it going?This is perhaps one of the most common questions you will here, and everyone gives the same answer. Instead of saying “fine”, “ok, how about you”, or “keepin busy”, next time try giving some uncommon honesty. Don’t parrot back your usual response. Think of something positive, unique, and/or funny that you are doing, and give them a one line summary. Keeping it positive is key. You should be bringing smiles to people’s faces, not unloading your baggage or stress.
To the receptionist: “Today has been crazy, I just closed that deal I’ve been workin on for the last month. High five!”
To the checker at the grocery store: “I’ll tell you what man, it’s gonna be going a lot better after I eat this sandwhich, I’m starving!”
To the cab driver: “Stupendous!”
- The HandshakeAnother common pattern we all go through is the handshake. Why not do it a little differently?One of my favorites to do in a social setting (especially with someone you just met recently) is to go for the hug instead of the handshake.
They will put out their hand. Just stare it for a second as if you are confused and then open you arms wide and say “I think I’d like a hug instead” with a big smile. People will crack up laughing and instantly you have a connection.
When everyone is going around the circle doing a handshake and it finally comes to you, you can also give them “the rock” to stand out. The rock is when you make a fist and bump it with the other person’s fist. This is a pop culture thing common among younger folks but it can also be humorous and help you stand out. Now you two have an inside joke.
If you are in a business setting, you can still do variations on the handshake to stand out. Try coming in wide from the outside with a little bit of a sweeping motion. Or bringing in your left hand too for a “double” (send the left hand up to his/her forearm for extra rapport). These will also show confidence and charm if done correctly.
- What do you do? Where are you from?These are the two most common questions in small talk. Come up with good answers to them that help you stand out.The key to a good answer is that it provides little pieces of information that would be easy for them to ask a follow up question about.
For example, if someone asks “What do you do?”, you could say: “Well, I’m an accountant”. Then there would be an awkward silence as the person tries to think of what to talk about next.
Or….you can say something like “Well, when I finished up school I decided to try working for XYZ company, but I realized after about 30 seconds that I didn’t want to do that, so I got into ABC. But honestly that’s just what I do for a job, what I really love doing is DEF and GHI so I do that pretty much every weekend.”
Now they have lots of places to take the conversation. They could ask you about what school you graduated from, your hobbies, why you didn’t like XYZ, etc. It’s uncommonly candid and gives them a better picture of your life.
The same goes for the dreaded “Where are you from?”. Give a miniature story in your answer with some interesting details they can follow up on.
Are there any other ways you like to stand out in people’s minds, build an instant connection, and break patterns? Leave a comment below!