“Dear Richard, I am an introverted architect, not good at meeting new people. Do you have any advice?”
Meeting new people can be tough if you are an introvert.
The New York Times points out some of the many questions rushing through your mind:
“Am I talking too much? Was my handshake too weak? Did I make too much eye contact? Too little? Am I boring? Are they boring or are they just boring because I’m boring?”
Our worst fears can be rolled up into one conversation.
The good news is there is a solution.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology analyzed conversations between platonic conversation partners, along with face-to-face speed-dating conversations, and found that in both settings “people who ask more questions, particularly follow-up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners.” (It even led to an increase in second dates among the speed-daters.)
Follow-up questions show we care.
Even the professional psychologists put it simply: “It doesn't hurt to ask: Question-asking increases liking.”
Why? Questions also get people to focus on themselves and not you. If you’re worried about your first impression, odds are they’re ruminating on the same inner dialogue. We all just want to be liked.
So how do we get people to like us?
Repeat back what you hear and ask a question (who, what, where, when, or why). Be more interested … and less distracted with being interesting.
Here are some ways to be more interested:
- Your new acquaintance tells you about a conflict at work. Channel your inner therapist and ask, “Yes, and how did that make you feel?’ and ‘What do you hope will happen tomorrow?”
- Your sister shares which plants she’s growing in her garden. “I love to see you glowing this time of year. When will the tomatoes be ready?”
- Your clients share how much their son loves to draw, to which you respond: “Let’s see what kind of environment he thrives in. Where does he like to draw?”
If you’re like me (human), you may catch yourself inserting an opinion too soon in the dialogue: Some friendly advice such as … “I think you shouldn’t be giving advice away for free.”
Follow up with: “What do you think?”
Listen and ask.
Share later, or next time. Show interest in another’s point of view, and see how it transforms your relationships.