I lucked out this weekend and was able to meet and receive a presentation from Bruce Painter at a local DSWA event in Dallas. As detailed on his website, Bruce is a coach extrordinaire for both professionals and families, and he’s possibly best known as the author of The Giving Zone, a “roadmap for a contributing, winning, prosperous, and happy life.”
During his presentation, Bruce asked us all to simply greet each other, with the simple purpose of acknowledging the person you’re meeting. Sounds pretty basic, but in doing this with professionals who are clearly much better and more deliberate than I am, I realized something quite profound:
There’s a big difference between making an impression and making a connection.
I’m guilty of trying to make impressions. The signs of doing so go something like this: you often forget someone’s name, mainly because you never really heard it to begin with. You were too busy trying to think about what you were going to say next, how firm your hand shake is, and maybe the tone of your voice. Your primary concern is making a good impression.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a good impression, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to communicate effectively. However, it’s focused on you. You’re focused on how the person you’re meeting perceives your words, your posture, your vocal qualities, your hand shake. It’s very different from making a connection.
Making a connection focuses on the other guy. You try to relate to their name, their story, their words. You make genuine eye contact and you say things that are genuine responses, not canned. You value relationships enough to make hearing and understanding what they are saying is the priority right now.
Ironically, the best impressions are almost always made because a connection has been made. Yet, the mindset required for them both could not be more different.