OK, I lie. What I’m about to discuss is not free association per se; that’s a technique in which the patient blurts out any thought associations that come to mind, no matter how seemingly unrelated they may seem to be.
In this blog and the next, I’ll be taking a modified version of this exercise to help you become the best conversationalist you can be. These days, hundreds of people are competing for everyone’s attention: between the Facebook posts and Tweets, how can you get someone to pay attention to YOU and what YOU can offer? It’s not easy to stand above the crowd.
The unfortunate reality is: we are all selfish beasts at heart. When you’re trying to impress someone else, you need to remember that the other person is doubtless thinking: “What’s in it for me? Why should I be interested in this person?”
This harsh reality is especially true when we’re searching for mentors, job leads or are facing a job interview. If you can find out what you and the other person have in common—and can focus on those commonalities—you can create a bond that just might lead to someplace amazing.
Motivational speaker Simon Sinek gave one of the most famous Ted talks of all time, with millions of hits*. His message is a simple one:
We do not make decisions logically. We make decisions with the part of our brain that processes feelings like trust and loyalty. We do not automatically analyse data and then carefully make a decision.
You need to make people get to the “Why”: WHY should they be interested in you? What’s in it for them? Simply listing all the wonderful things you can offer won’t get you anywhere, for everyone does this; your words will become part of the endless chatter and noise that usually lead to Nowheresville. You need to forge a connection between you and the other person: Why do you want to get out of bed in the morning? What passion motivates you? Do you and the other share the same passion? It’s up to YOU to build a bridge that links you and the other through verbal acts of active discovery.
I gave a communications workshop at a scientific organisation in Melbourne the other week, and one of the participants left, saying, “Gee, this is more complex than I thought.”
Yes, that is true. But learning how to (kind of) free associate with the other individual, to get to each other’s similar “why” can result in wonderful things.
Specific techniques will come tomorrow. Stay tuned.
I’m owner of the Melbourne-based company Eloquent English, and I can help you find YOUR story: in a CV, a job interview, a website, annual report or a presentation.
“It’s your story. Get it right.”