We make snap decisions every day. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book Blink, calls these occurrences "blink moments."
The “blink moment” I'm most interested in has to do with relationships. Particularly, that moment when you realize the person in front of you is someone worth hanging on to.
When I was in 6th grade, I traveled on a school-sponsored chess tournament. During a match, I heard a kid start laughing a couple tables behind me (he was laughing because he'd lost his match so quickly). I turned around, made eye contact, and we ended up hanging out when the tournament was over... we've been best friends ever since. That kid’s name was Billy. Today, he's a Colonel in the Air Force but to me, he's just that laughing kid.
Think back to when you first met your best friend, or your significant other. Now recall the moment you “clicked.” Remember how that felt? You realized how totally comfortable you were talking to them. They were really listening to what you were saying, and you were doing the same. It felt genuine. You were able to be your real, true self, and they were, too. And when you parted ways, you were both left wanting more.
There are lessons here that can be applied to your real estate business and the way you build relationships. By examining these types of meetings—these interactions that resulted in mutual attraction—we can better understand how to make more immediate, genuine connections with our leads and the people we meet in passing.
How to make meaningful connections...and leave them wanting more
Based on past experiences where I’ve really clicked with someone, here is my advice for how you, as a real estate agent, can make meaningful connections with the people you meet.
Starbucks former CEO and executive chairman Howard Schultz shares this nugget of wisdom:
“For all the promise of digital media to bring people together, I still believe that the most sincere, lasting powers of human connection come from looking directly into someone else's eyes, with no screen in between.”
I couldn’t agree more. True connections happen offline. When you’re face-to-face, all the nuances of tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language come through loud and clear.
Make eye contact...but not too much
Eye contact is powerful. It signals to your companion that you are interested in them and engaged in the conversation.
But at some point, eye contact can go from friendly and engaged...to creepy or overzealous. It’s natural to break gaze occasionally, so don’t force it. (In fact, according to research, you might want to avert your eyes after about 3 seconds.)
Bottom line: Show interest, but don’t make the other person uncomfortable.
Be interested & ask questions
We’ve all had conversations with people who only talk about themselves. It’s dull, and sometimes downright obnoxious. It doesn’t make us eager to talk with them again.
Show interest in the person you’re talking to. Ask them questions (“Where are you from?”), actually listen to their answers, and ask follow-up questions (“What brought you to Denver?”).
It’s not difficult; it’s just a matter of being genuinely interested in what another human being has to say. When they realize how much you value what they have to say, they’ll always be up for future conversations. (Learn 8 more conversation strategies here.)
I repeat: listen. For something so simple, it’s amazing how many of us forget to do this. And don’t just listen to what they say; pay attention to their tone of voice and their body language, too.
Empathy (a huge component of emotional intelligence) is the ability to recognize emotions in others and respond appropriately. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to understand their situation.
Let’s say, for instance, a young couple tells you their budget is lower than they’d like it to be. You register the sheepish tone of their voices and their averted gazes, and you can tell they are embarrassed. So you say, “Look, I’ve been there, and I know it’s difficult to compromise on the features you want, but let me tell you about my first home, which was a starter home that I really loved...”
When you can read people’s emotions and understand their situations—and then respond in a way that makes them feel comfortable—you can connect with people on a deeper level.
Capturing the “blink” moment
At the beginning of every relationship, there's this "blink moment" when a person suddenly, instinctively gets the gut feeling that they want more from the other person.
It happened between you and your best friend. It happened between you and your significant other. And it can happen between you and your future clients.
Whether it’s a new lead or a person you chatted with in line at the coffee shop, draw on your past “blink moments” and apply the “tactics” (for lack of a better word) that you used. Figure out how you can engage the new people you meet, pique their interests, and leave them wanting more.
Of course, while someone may instantly know when they want “more” of you, the true value of that relationship must be continually proven over time. But that’s a topic for another day.