The first ten seconds of connecting with someone may well be the most important ten seconds of the entire relationship. They may determine whether there will be any relationship at all. And you will learn quite a bit about the other person in those ten seconds, often enough to know whether they are someone you are interested in getting to know better.
Here is some vital advice on how to make a genuine connection with someone in the first ten seconds.
If you begin with something false and artificial, that is often the way the relationship goes. However, if you begin on a footing of authenticity, you create a template for the future that is based on truth and clarity. Here are some pointers:
1. Say something simple that is unarguably true. Even better, say something simple that is unarguably true and that you are experiencing in the moment. Example: you’re in the grocery store trying to choose a melon and an attractive person makes eye contact with you. Here is something you could say that meets both criteria: “I’m having a hard time deciding which cantaloupe to buy.”
This statement may sound ridiculously simple to you, but it instantly establishes trust, because it shares something personal and non-threatening about you, and it can’t be interpreted as any kind of lie, con, or attempted manipulation.
Here’s an example of what NOT to say: “Do you know a good way to tell which cantaloupes are good?” The authors’ research has shown time after time that a statement like this will turn people off, while the first statement will work. Statement Two reveals nothing about the speaker, yet asks the other person to reveal information. (Even simple information is asking the person to step forward to a degree of intimacy that the speaker has not volunteered.) If you say “I’m having a hard time choosing a cantaloupe,” you create an opening that the other person can enter if he or she chooses. At the same time, you reveal something of yourself, while speaking the absolute, unarguable truth. The other person will feel at ease, because you have not conned, lied, or manipulated them.
Speaking unarguable truths is the ideal way to begin a relationship. There are two good reasons why: First, the first ten seconds of a relationship is a template for how the rest of the relationship will go. The second reason is equally important: speaking the truth will often flush out people who do not have a capacity or an interest in honest relationships. It is better to learn that in the first ten seconds that to take ten years of pain and suffering to learn the same lesson.
For instance, imagine saying “I’m trying to decide which cantaloupe to choose,” and the other person says, “Here, I will do it for you.” Beware! This person is a Controller. They make bad partners. Or imagine that the other person responds by saying in a mocking tone, “Geez, everybody knows that! What’s wrong with you?” Beware! This person is a Critic. They make bad partners, too. But if the person responds in an authentic way that comes from their heart in the present moment, you will know that you have met someone who will make for a good partner.
2. Stay in the present moment. Don’t attempt to repeat anything you have ever done before, and don’t say anything you’ve ever said before. Say only simple and unarguably true things, such as “I am feeling warm in here” or “I feel nervous about being here.” If you can establish the relationship on the firm ground of authenticity–even ten seconds of it–you have a foundation on which you can build a mansion.