Funny Burrowing owl Athene cunicularia tilts its head outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida

We put aside one day a month to explore New Mexico. This has led to many colorful conversations, new acquaintances and a richer familiarity with our state. We recently drove to the town of Jemez Springs, where we met Ben and Geraldine Toya, or Ben and Gerry as they are called in their Pueblo. We asked them how COVID affected them and about their pottery making. Soon, Gerry began to relate a shocking story of how her oldest daughter was recently robbed and killed, and that she was now raising her daughter’s four children. We left not only feeling closer to the couple, but determined to tell our friends about these excellent artists.

For years, we’ve heard from clients how difficult it is to break the ice when networking or make a strong connection in conversations. We tell our clients that it is not a skill that relies on being up to date on the news, or having a quick wit. Drawing people out is done by asking about them instead of talking about yourself.

First, show a genuine interest. Then dig deeper-- while staying open, receptive and non-judgmental. When you hear a sad or challenging story, don’t say “That happened to me too” or “I understand how you feel.” You don’t. Instead, express concern or sympathy with a statement similar to “I can’t imagine what that’s like” or “I’m so sorry.”

People enjoy talking about themselves, and when you bring them out, they appreciate your interest in them. So, if you want more and better connections, put your full attention on whoever you’re talking to and be curious. Questions?

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