The Art of Communication podcast transcript – Episode 1:  Instant Connection

The Art of Communication podcast transcript

Episode 1:  Instant Connection

 

Robin

Hello and welcome to The Art of Communication Podcast with me, Robin Kermode. For more information on my online Public Speaking Masterclass, visit robinkermode.com

 

Sian

Hello, this is Sian Hansen and welcome to The Art of Communication Podcast. I’m here with Robin Kermode.

 

Robin

Hello.

 

Sian

This podcast is called Instant Connection. Why don’t we first look at connection? What is that to you?

 

Robin

When we say we want to connect with another human being, what we’re really saying is we want them to connect with us. And that means we have to be firstly in a relaxed state ourselves. A state, that puts them at ease, and then we want them to be at ease with us, so they choose to connect with us. If, for example, we go to a party and we come back and we say, I connected with that person, I had a real connection with that person, what it often means is that I had something in common with that person. Now, it could be a background in common, it could be a job in common, or it could even be an outlook or even a shared experience in common. It could be human experience, and has nothing to do with culture, class background or anything like that. It’s just a human connection, some shared experience. So, one of the easiest ways to have instant connection with somebody is to find a shared experience with them.

 

Sian

And you do that by a conversation just exploring?

 

Robin

Yes, and actively looking for something, rather than hoping that maybe we connect. We can say, ok, what are the ingredients to try to increase the chances of us connecting properly.

 

Sian

Why does this matter? Why does it matter that in every given situation in our lives that we connect with somebody? I mean, we’re all rushing around …

 

Robin

Well, it’s a very good question, why does it matter? And should we try to connect with everybody? The answer is no, we don’t have to connect with anybody if we don’t want to. We can live a hermit’s life. We can’t do that in business, we have to connect with people. And if we have a family, we have to connect with them. The better at it we are, the easier life is funnily enough, so that if we are generally open hearted and generally want to connect with people, then they’re more likely to want to connect with us. And it’s necessary just for society to work that people do that. We don’t have to connect with everybody, because there are people who we meet, and we think, it sounds an awful thing to say, but you could say, I’m not sure they’re worth my time. In other words, I’m very busy, this person is asking something from me, I’m not sure that I have the time to give what they want. And to do them justice in terms of what they want. And I also have lots of other people asking for my time and asking for my help. So, rather like with giving to charities, you can’t give to every single charity, because you run out of money. What we have to do is to prioritize what we think is important. And therefore we can’t, in that sense, connect with every charity, but you could say I want to connect with some. And we shouldn’t feel bad about that.

 

Sian

Yes. And because this podcast is largely listened to by people who are looking for advice in a business setting, tell us more in depth about what it means to make an instant connection in a business meeting,

 

Robin

One of the reasons that instant connection is useful in business often is because business meetings are quite short. Sometimes you don’t have time to build up rapport. Now obviously, over time, if you have a relationship with somebody over many years, of course, you build that relationship. And you probably then get to know some of the personal things like their family and their likes and holidays and these kinds of things. So, the quicker you can have the connection, the quicker you can get on to learn other stuff. That’s why I think instant connection is helpful.

 

Sian

So, what do we do to create that instant connection? You’ve spoken about how you’ve got to, well, I think, like each other?

 

Robin

Yes. And of course, you’re not going to like everybody in the same way that they’re not going to like you. That’s just that’s how life is. But of course, the other thing about instant connection is that it doesn’t take anybody very long to decide if they like somebody, it’s almost an animal response. And it takes less than five seconds to decide instantly. It’s not that you can’t turn that around. But the moment you see somebody you think, ah, yeah, I think they’re that kind of person and you make instant judgments. There’s a wonderful book by Malcolm Gladwell called Blink. And it’s about how we make judgments in the blink of an eye. And if anyone listening hasn’t read it, it’s a really good book, Malcolm Gladwell proves that the judgment we make what he calls the blink judgment, the instant judgment, is often more accurate than the judgment we make if we spend 20 minutes with somebody. So often our gut instinct is the right one. So how do we show somebody who we are in that first two or three seconds so that they make the right gut judgment of us, and therefore we have a quicker instant connection?

 

Sian

So, is that a combination of what you say, how you sit, how you present yourself?

 

Robin

It is, it’s what I call how you show up. And I run workshops on this in companies, how you show up, how you walk in the door, how you shake someone’s hand, how you say, Hello. Actually, it’s not the kind of NLP stuff, which is a bit prescriptive, it’s more about the attitude behind it. So, what is your attitude towards the other person? If your attitude is you’re open, and you want to try and connect with them? And you asked them a question, and they listened to the answer, then that’s the kind of person that will build a quicker instant connection. And so therefore, we can learn to be aware of our attitude and to be cognizant of our attitude. And that will help us hugely.

 

Sian

So, where is listening in this, when we talk about an instant connection?

 

Robin

Well, listening is hugely valuable. Because if you don’t listen, you’re on transmit. And if you transmit, you can’t listen. We all know people who, when you meet them, all they do is talk about themselves, they just talk about themselves straightaway, they need to big themselves up. There’s some sense in them that they need to do this. What a lot of people do is they get competitive, somebody will big themselves up, and they feel they then have to justify themselves. So, they say, Well, I’m also quite important, and I also do this …  I’ve been in meetings like that. Exactly. And when two or more people are each trying to outdo each other, nobody’s listening. So listening is the first thing and being open.

 

Sian

I find that very engaging and compelling what you’re saying about being open. If you’re sitting in a meeting with three or four other people, how do you build an instant connection by being open? Is that with a genuine smile, a shake of their hands, and saying, Thank you for having me here? What is it that establishes almost immediately that you’re willing to hear what they have to say?

 

Robin

Absolutely right, it is all those things. And it’s the attitude behind all that, which is I actually want to listen. Here’s a good example, you’ve bought one of those self assembly tables from a store that we probably all know. Right? We know who we’re talking about! And you take the table home, and you try to work out from the plan, how it all fits together. And right at the end, you find this one little bit missing. And now the table is wonky. So, you have to drive back, I don’t know, half an hour, an hour, whatever, to get to the store, you then stand in the returns queue. And by the time you get there, you’re quite wound up because the whole thing has taken much longer than it should have done. And the temptation for the person behind the desk is to say, that’s no problem, here’s the spare piece. And you say, there is a problem, because I’ve had to wait in the queue I’ve had to drive here. So, what we need is somebody behind the desk there to listen to them. The first thing is to listen, they have to say, I’m so sorry, that must be so frustrating. And sympathize. One of the things they’re taught to do, of course, is to repeat back what they’ve heard. So, one of the quickest ways to have instant connection is to repeat back, what you’ve heard.

 

Sian

Is that like the Royal Family? I’ve heard that the Royal Family is trained to take the last word of what you’ve just said to them, and turn it into a question.

 

Robin

Well, this is apocryphal and probably is true. And it makes total sense, of course, because if you’re meeting as many people as the Queen does, and she is an absolute example, about instant connection, because people meet someone like the Queen, it’s probably the one chance they have in their life, they’re going to remember everything that happened in that four or five seconds for the rest of their lives, tell their friends, their children, their grandchildren about it. The Queen, of course, has long since forgotten about it, because she’s moved on to other people. But it shows that she’s listening. Someone will say to her mom, this is such and such, and they run a company making umbrellas. All she has to do is say, umbrellas? And, of course, it shows that she’s listening. And then they go, yes, and we’ve perfected a clasp. She just says, a clasp?!

 

Sian

I’d like to go back to what you were saying before, where in a blink of an eye, we make some judgments about the other person. And we may be judging whether we have any shared interest with them at all, or whether this meeting is even going to be a success. This is in an interview situation. This is in maybe where you’re meeting new colleagues, whatever it may be, you’ve made a quick judgment. But you mentioned you could turn it round, what are the techniques to turn it round, if there is tension in the air when you first meet?

 

Robin

That’s a really good point, when I first started coaching, I had to learn a new skill set. Because in my previous life as an actor, for many years, I had an agent and of course, the agent set up the meeting. And this was all done for you. When I started my own business, I had to learn this thing of going into a company and establishing instant connection with them, because maybe I only had a half an hour meeting with them. And I had to somehow get them to buy into what I was offering them. And I found that some meetings went well, and some didn’t go well, which is very frustrating. Yeah. And I analyzed what was happening. And what was happening was, I was going in doing the same thing to everybody. In other words, I didn’t adapt well enough in the early days. So, I went in with what I thought was a nice energy and nice positivity. I was good at listening and all these things. But I was doing the same thing to everybody. And I realized there are broadly three different group types of people. And what I’ve developed over the years is a very simple system based on the Zones, because I think we have three Zones Of Communication, Zone one, Zone Two, Zone three, there’s much more detail about this in my book. And obviously you can read that if you want to read more. But what I now do is I work out what the communication zone of the other person or people around the table is, and I adapt my behaviour very slightly.

 

Sian

Oh, that’s so intriguing. And do you find that people react? Well, yes, because you put yourself in a different Zone depending on where they are,

 

Robin

But what I used to do is I used to come out thinking yes, that meeting went well because they were nice. They were friendly because they were in the same zone and if I processed information in the same way, if I had the same sense of humor, these kinds of things, the same energy levels, but of course people have many different types of energy levels. They have different types of sense of humor, there are different ways of connecting. And what we have to do, if we want to have instant connection, is we have to read which of the three Zones they’re in, and therefore adapt our behavior accordingly.

 

Sian

I wondered if you ever advise clients to do research on the people you’re about to meet? Is that a good thing?

 

Robin

I think research is brilliant. Because like we’ve said, in other podcasts, the more intel you have, the better, you don’t have to splurge it all out. For example, if I know that the person I’m meeting had studied engineering at university many years ago, I could throw in at some point, of course, As an engineer, you would know. And of course, it doesn’t look odd, because of course, most people now will look you up before they meet you. It might look creepy if you met them at a party but at a business meeting, they’ve taken the meeting, because they want to meet you. And they will have done some research on you, they will have looked at your background, and you will have looked at their background and actually had saved a lot of time. So how can this instant connection can be quicker? Well, what we have to do is to find some common ground between the two of us. But if you do some research that can help.

 

Sian

Veering away from the context of business and moving back into the personal, I think a lot of what you’re saying might be interesting for people who are dating at any time in their life, because you talk a lot about instant connection. So I’m sure we’ll do a podcast on first dates, and how to make a best impression. But in this context of instant connection, what would you say about a first date, just briefly?

 

Robin

It was so long ago, my first date! But we’ve all been in this situation where you’re in a restaurant, and you look across and you can see a couple on a first date, it’s fairly obvious in their body language. You don’t need to be a body language expert to know that I mean, the number of times that I’ve looked across, and I wanted to go over to the man and I wanted to say, Just pay the bill and go. It’s just not going to happen. She’s just not that into whatever the name of that film is. I think what happens often is that, rather like in a networking event, we’ll do another podcast about networking, because that’s a really interesting area. Like one of those lonely hearts ads, you know, where you feel you have to big yourself up. What you can’t say is, I feel lonely, because you look a bit of a loser, which is actually the reason you’re going there. But you can’t say that. So what you do is you end up saying I’m amazing, I’m amazing. The biggest thing I would say to anyone going on a first date, is what we said right at the start of this podcast is listen, ask a question and listen to the answer. If you actually listen to the answer, it makes the other person feel that you want to listen to what they have to say. It’s not rocket science, if we develop the sense of being open and friendly, life is easier. And I often say to people, if you go through life, making other people feel special life is actually quite easy. One of the simple things is just to say, Hello, look, people in the eye, say thank you, it doesn’t have to be a massive connection with them. We’re not going to say that every time we pay for the groceries. We’re not going to say, Are you going anywhere on holiday this year? And do you have a large family? We’re not going to have that kind of conversation with them, because it’s not appropriate. But we can still just with a little flash of humanity, looking somebody in the eye and saying thank you, and they will pick that up.

 

Sian

So I’m sure you’re going to meet a lot of people who maybe would like to follow up with you engage with you. Where do you draw the line?

 

Robin

Well, I think it’s really about having clear boundaries, because there are people like we said earlier on, will ask for help, will ask for advice. And maybe you’re not in a position to be able to do that, because of your time pressure and all sorts of reasons. So it’s about having very clear boundaries, so people know where they are. So you’re not offering something you can’t fulfill. Do you remember when you were at school, there were some teachers who had really clear boundaries, you knew where you were with them. So for example, they could be very strict, they could be very funny, or very irreverent. It didn’t really matter. But you knew where you were. The teachers that I found difficult at school, and I found unjust at school, were those that laughed with you one day for doing something and the following day punished you for doing exactly the same thing. The boundaries weren’t clear.

 

Sian

Yes, you’re right.

 

Robin

I’m some bosses are like that as well.

 

Sian

But if we’re talking about instant connection, but you’re also saying there’s clear boundaries, that’s a little complicated this, it sounds like one or the other. But it’s not?

 

Robin

It does sound like two different things. When we choose to connect, we will connect. In other words, if we want to have a connection, it has to start with us. So we have to choose to shine our light as it were. So almost like we have a candle we’re choosing to chair this candle this light, but there are times when you’re just tired, and that’s fine. But I would say that from my own personal experience, on the days that I don’t feel like connecting, on the days that I’ve just can’t be bothered. I can turn the day around, if I choose to just be a little bit more open and I think OK, the next person I meet, I’m just going to look them in the eye and say hello, and that can turn it around. So for me the day gets better if I connect. I have a better day if I connect with people, than if I don’t, so actually, it’s self serving in a way, you know, it’s a win win.

 

Sian

That sounds incredibly elegant. And I’m sure in everyday life, it gets a little bit more complicated than that. But if we boil down to the essence of what you’re saying connections with other human beings matter, because they bring happiness to our lives, when you connect with another human being,

 

Robin

Yes, and in the business context, they’re more likely to trust us, and like us.

 

Sian

And this isn’t about Look at me, please like me? That’s not the kind of connectedness we’re talking about, is it?

 

Robin

It’s is very interesting what you just said, then, if you need to be liked, then it becomes weird, then it’s a codependent relationship. So if you need approval, if you’re desperate to seek connection, it doesn’t work. So this instant connection, this openness has to be given freely from your own well of confidence. Yes, there was a very good description I was given the years ago, which is, if you imagine your soul, your heart, as it were, is like a vessel. And if you fill it up with love, with openness with kindness, whatever words you choose, what happens is you keep filling this vessel up, and then of course, the vessel at some point overflows, what you do is you give the overflow completely freely. You don’t expect anything in return. It’s not, I love you, if you love me back, which is codependent. It’s just I give you this because I have enough of it. And if you keep filling up the vessel by connecting with other people, which is the quickest way to fill it up, you will always have access and then you can give the excess away without needing anything in return.

 

Sian

That’s a good place to finish Robin. Yes, again, a refreshing and stimulating conversation. Thank you so much. So it’s goodbye from me.

 

Robin

And it’s goodbye from me.

 

For more information on my online public speaking masterclass, visit Robin kermode.com

Do you want to become a confident speaker? Get in touch today…

Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
Fill out this field

“Robin has wit, charm and professionalism. The auctioneers loved it!”

Francois Curiel

Chairman, Christie's, Europe

Instagram
LinkedIn
IMDb
Menu