20 Tips for Positive Group Interactions
Posted by Todd Smith
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Everyday we meet with groups of people socially and professionally. How we interact plays a large role in the impressions we create. Are we taken seriously or do people discount what we say? Does people’s respect for us grow or would they prefer not to be around us any more? Once again, you are in control.
Following these tips will give you a leg up in your next group meeting or social event.
1. Dress consistently with how you want to be viewed-—You may think that dressing for success is an overused phrase or your attire really doesn’t matter. But IT DOES. Remember you are marketing a product and that product is YOU.
2. Arrive early—Being early is a stress reliever. You’ll feel prepared and confident and when others arrive you can be the first to greet them. But socially, don’t be too early or you’ll catch your host or hostess off guard and unprepared for your arrival.
3. Put your cell phone away or place in silent or vibrate mode—Group meetings of any kind should not be interrupted with your personal cell phone activity-calls, texts or emails. It’s best to leave your phone in the car or place it in silent mode. If you absolutely must receive “important” information, put your phone on vibrate.
5. Be friendly—If you aren’t naturally outgoing and friendly, then this is “show time” for you. Put on your “game face” and do all you can to make a good impression. Being friendly is HUGE!
6. Show an interest in others—Ask questions, pay someone a compliment or listen carefully to what is being discussed.
7. Introduce yourself— Be proactive and introduce yourself to others in the group. Denny Cwiek’s insightful comment on this blog is right on point. “Todd, something else I do when I run into someone I know I’ve met before, whether I remember their name or not. I put my hand out and reintroduce myself just in case they don’t remember my name. This let’s them save face and immediately makes them more comfortable. Plus, if I don’t remember their name, there’s a good chance they’ll remind me.”
8. Introduce others—Once again Denny hits the nail on the head. “Also, if I’m in a group where there is someone who probably does not know or remember the names of the other people in the group, I make it a point to use everyone’s name several times in the course of the conversation, again, to help that person save face and feel more comfortable.”
9. Wait to be seated—In a social setting ask the host or hostess where you should sit. You want to be respectful of how they would like the group seated.
10. Body posture—Sit up straight. Poor posture is an indication of low self-esteem. Leaning forward indicates interest. Crossed arms indicate disinterest or possibly anger. All of your body language sends signals to the group members.
11. Focus your attention on the person talking—Maintain eye contact with the person talking to demonstrate respect and interest in the conversation. This holds true even when the waiter arrives at your table to take a drink or dinner order. If you turn your attention to the waiter, you are indicating the waiter is more important than your dinner guest.
12. Don’t discount anyone’s comments—Don’t dismiss an idea just because it originates from someone who has a different point of view. Remember everyone is different and the ability to think differently can spark creativity and innovation. There’s just no way you can improve yourself or grow your business if you only value your own ideas.
13. Think before you speak—Don’t be too quick to jump into the conversation. Instead be a respectful listener and observer. When you do talk, carefully consider what you say. Wouldn’t you rather keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and prove it.
14. Remember the “two second” rule- Don’t interject or comment until the person has clearly finished speaking. A good rule of thumb is to wait two seconds.
15. Don’t talk about yourself—Resist the temptation to monopolize the conversation. Instead, show an interest in others by asking questions. Then listen attentively and continue the conversation accordingly.
16. Include everyone when talking—When you are the one talking, be sure to share eye contact with each person in the group. Each member will feel valued and included.
17. Don’t change the conversation—Unless there’s a clear indicator that the conversation is finished, don’t change the topic. You don’t want people to feel you don’t have an interest in what’s being discussed or you think what you have to say is more important.
18. Don’t start or participate in a side conversation—Never start or participate in a side conversation even if the person talking is not making eye contact with you. Don’t allow their mistake to prevent you from being a good listener.
19. Excusing yourself—Don’t get up to leave the table in the middle of a conversation. Wait until there is a pause or a shift in the conversation. Otherwise your actions could be interpreted as a lack of interest in the conversation and the person speaking may well take offense.
20. Say goodbye to each person individually— Make sure to smile, shake hands or embrace and use each person’s name when the conversation or event is concluded. Make a good last impression.
Everything you do in a group setting makes an impression on everyone in the group. Don’t ever think something doesn’t matter. Everything matters.
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