Monday, October 2, 2017


You may think that choosing your words carefully and then expressing them should be enough to satisfy your colleagues. But conveying how much you know, the value of your ideas and insights, or your intentions as a newcomer to the group requires much more than words alone.

Listeners can hear your words with a basic approach to clear English, but you still need to convince them to believe the words, and more, to believe in you. Helping others to see you, the person behind the voice and gestures, will create the lasting, convincing impression you wish to make.

Engaging with your American colleagues, friends and other listeners is the key to successful communication. So how can you connect with people in a culturally appropriate way?
  1. Pay attention to non-verbal body language –particularly eye contact and facial expressions. Use your eyes to connect with everyone you’re talking or listening to. This invisible connection between you and others shows Americans that you are engaged and interested in the conversation. Nodding, smiling, raising eyebrows, and widening your eyes at times all signal that you are paying attention to them and their role in what’s being said.
  2. Practice “mirroring” –observe and then mimic appropriate non-verbal movements, as discussed in last week’s Tip, to perfect this important cultural skill.
  3. In casual conversations, add enough specific detail to show that you are willing to reveal yourself in the course of the discussion. Review a previous, archived Tip on “conversational ping pong” to see how this is done and how you can create interest in yourself to carry the relationship further.
Everyone –boss, colleagues, clients or any audience—must feel a heartfelt connection with you and your message. When this happens, they will respect your knowledge, believe in your ability to accomplish mutual goals, and want to engage with you.

Why is this emphasis on connecting so important? Why can’t you just be diligent, say what’s essential, and let your work speak for itself? Because only after you have created a sympathetic personal connection can others really hear your message and see what you have to offer.