Here’s a secret that you would not guess if you met me in public: I’m naturally introverted. I was very shy as a kid, I’m still perfectly content to go to dinner or a movie by myself, and I enjoy working alone. That said, I’m also one of the best networkers you’re ever going to run into. I’ve been hired by a presidential campaign and consulting confirms because of my blogger contacts. I do speeches at Tea Parties, I write articles on how to communicate with people, and my Facebook page is nothing but pictures of me hanging out with cool people and political celebrities. Here’s something a blogger wrote about me just two weeks ago.
* John Hawkins will walk up to any woman or group of women — including the stunning Dana Loesch and Katie Pavlich — and begin chatting them up for photos. I have a vision of Hawkins’ foyer that is lined with hundreds of photos of him hugging every woman on the center-right scene….
* John Hawkins knows everyone. He is an uber-networker and can connect you with the full spectrum of conservative thought, from National Review to Breitbart.com.
* John Hawkins is funny. At #BlogConCLT, he had me literally crying and gasping for breath as he outlined various possible “list columns” like “The Top 12 Places You Should Never Wear a Speedo With an Afro-Wig Under It.”
I’m not rich, famous, or good looking — yet. So, how did I get so much better with people that my Myers-Briggs score actually switched from INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) when I was younger to ENTJ (extraversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) now?
1) Approach: If you’re determined to meet a new person, the easiest way to do it is to be the one who walks up and says, “hello.” This is actually not as tough as it may seem. People get wrapped up in what they should say, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter all that much. Personally, my favorite is, “I’m John Hawkins and I don’t think I’ve met you yet,” but I’m confident that I could walk up to someone and say, “Meow” or “I bet the weather is great on Mars today” and still have things turn out well. That’s because people watch your body language and pay attention to your tone more than what you say. If you seem completely comfortable, confident, and friendly, they’ll just assume they must have misheard you and keep chatting. Just be content to meet people, enjoy yourself, and move on if you get bored. 99 times out of a 100, I get a good reaction doing that and the 1 time out of 100 that I don’t, I assume there’s something wrong with them, not me.
2) Listen: Being funny and saying fascinating things helps, but listening is really the key to people skills. What people want most out of a conversation is someone who pays attention and values what they say. So, be that person. Pay rapt attention and ask questions that pop into your head.
“Oh, you go boating? So do you ever see sharks? Are any of them like Jaws size, you know bigger than the boat?”
“You went to Greece? I’d love to go there! I bet it was amazing. Did you see the Spartan plaque at the Hot Gates? You didn’t? Well what did you get to see there?”
“You’re a plumber? I bet that’s a crazy job. What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve pulled out of a drain?”
This is great not only because the other person is pleased that they were able to talk about themselves to someone who wanted to hear what they had to say, but because it also means you don’t have to come up with anything witty, fascinating, and charming to say yourself. All you have to do is listen to other people and you’ll appear to be witty, fascinating, and charming.
3) Read about communications: You’re probably not going to be able to outwork extroverts when it comes to people skills because it comes so naturally to them. So, if you can’t work harder, then you have to work smarter. How do you do that? Articles like this one can get you started, but there are also some absolutely fantastic books out there that can teach you a tremendous amount about how to deal with other human beings. Some of them I’d recommend include Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Roger Ailes’ You Are the Message, and Les Giblin’s How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People. Granted, there are other books out there that cover more advanced topics like body language, lie detection, “mirroring,” micro expressions, and gender specific tricks, but these books will cover all the basics. If you read all three and apply what you learn, you’ll rocket ahead of 90% of the people you’ll ever run into.
4) Body language: This is not a communications 101 topic. It’s actually complex, difficult, and almost impossible to adequately address in a paragraph or two, but it’s still vitally important. Your body language is just as crucial as what you say, if not more so. Some people would say MUCH more so. Still, it’s hard to learn body language and even when you learn how to do it correctly, it can take a long time for it to sink in and become automatic. For example, I still have problems with my posture, mainly because I slouched for so long before I started making an effort to fix it.
How do you do it right? There are basics. Confident, high-value people move a little slower. They take up more space. They feel comfortable with eye contact, expressing emotion, and touching other human beings. They tend to stand straighter and hold their chin up just a bit beyond the 45% mark. They tend to be a little less reactive to things that happen around them. All that sounds simple until you start trying to apply it and realize there’s plenty of room for error and lots of nuance to this. For instance, holding your head up displays confidence, but going too far makes you look arrogant. Making the right amount of eye contact gives the impression you have healthy self-esteem. Giving too much can be creepy.
So, what do you do? Well, the best actors pay attention to this when they prepare a role. When you see an actor perform and get a “feeling” off of them that you want to display, watch them carefully and see what they’re doing to give you that impression. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are masters of body language. Angelina Jolie and Sarah Michelle Gellar dominate on the female side. If you see a movie or a scene where you say to yourself “Wow, that’s confident, badass, sexy, cheerful, dominant, etc. etc.,” turn the sound down, rewind it, and actually watch their facial expressions and how they move. You would be surprised how much you can pick up from doing that.
5) Practice, practice, practice: Communications is nothing but a series of learnable skill sets. The only difference is that some people have a few more advantages when they get started. Maybe they tend to get a little better reaction from people because they’re rich, famous, powerful, or attractive. Extroverts also have an advantage because they like talking to people and they gain energy from doing it; while for introverts human interaction leaves them exhausted.
As a practical matter, all this means is that introverts have to work harder over a longer period of time to learn how to deal with people because they usually don’t go out as often, stay out as long, or enjoy it as much. So, spread it out. If you’re in line at Subway or the grocery store, talk to the people around you. If you’re at a party, work your way through the crowd. Meet someone, ride the conversation out, and go home when you’re tired. The more practice you get, the quicker you’ll achieve your goal and become a social butterfly.