Making A Connection

Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee

I used to work at the big flagship B. Dalton Bookseller in Southdale, so I’ve had the luck to meet many authors. And many were a big surprise. Brooke Shields was quite nervous about meeting people and Rosalind Carter was a very outspoken and determined woman. Garrison Keillor was much nicer than I was expecting from the rumors and Gary Larson was this quiet, non-assuming little guy. I if he hadn’t drawn some cartoons in people’s books, I might have thought they sent somebody else in his place.

But hands-down, the two most impressive authors that I met were Leo Buscaglia and Robert Schuller, and both for the same reason. When you are with them, they each make you feel as if you are the only other person in the universe for them at that moment. It’s a heady feeling and they could each keep it up indefinitely. Leo Buscaglia hugged over 120 people that day he was in the store. Robert Schuller was in the store for 4 hours and made the last person in line feel as special as the first person in line.

Santa, Helping Everyone Feel Special and Loved

It was magical watching them interact with so many different kinds of people. Over the years, however, I thought that being with either of them for any length of time might be difficult; it must be a lot of pressure being the only other person in someone’s universe.

But I’d be willing to give it a try!

What’s the secret to making a strong connection on the first (and possibly only) meeting?

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46 thoughts on “Making A Connection”

  1. Nice post, vs. I’m relieved to know that Leo Buscaglia and Robert Schuller actually practice what they teach/preach. I’ve often wondered about that. I’ve always liked Buscaglia, but, although I’m a great admirer of what Schuller has accomplished and like his message, his style turns me off.

    I’m certainly no expert in this, and often don’t do well when first encountering new people. On the occasions when I do succeed in making a strong connection, it is usually because I have a genuine interest in the other person and what he or she has to say. If I’m in my insecure, shy mode, forget it; I can’t think of a thing to say and feel very awkward.

    OT – Happy birthday MiG.

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  2. Good morning. I think I am a lot like PJ. I don’t have much skill for making a strong first connection with people. I have had some experience with at least two people who had that skill. One of them is Wally, a man who always was very friendly and had a positive approach to greeting people. I wouldn’t say that Wally was always happy about everything. He just always seemed to be optimistic and never seemed to be in a negative mood. I don’t know if everybody felt an immediate strong connection to Wally, but I know many people who very much enjoyed his company.

    The other person I think of that had skill at connecting with people is Curt. Every time I saw him he seemed to be very glad to see me and I think he is this way with everyone. He always wanted to know how you were doing and asked you about your life. There would be some kidding around and he would probably have an interesting story to tell. I never meet a more friendly person with Wally being the possible exception.

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    1. Good quote, Clyde and thanks for the good guest posting, VS. Of the two people I mentioned I think everyone thought Wally was completely sincere. That was what made him such a good friend to so many people. I would be surprised to hear differently. Curt is so overflowing with friendliness, that you might think he isn’t completely sincere. I think he is sincere.

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  3. When I was in college I was going through the cafeteria line, talking to friends, when I saw a man who was amazing to see even from the back. “My god!” I thought, “Who is HE?” The stranger hadn’t spoken or done anything except shuffle along collecting food. But he was Eugene McCarthy, and he was such an obvious celebrity that he seemed to have an aura around him. He was perfectly groomed, of course, but much more impressive than that was his bearing. He carried himself like a duke, a knight, a great athlete, or anyone else who is just totally sure of himself.

    So I begin trying to answer today’s question by saying some people seem to have this conviction that they are leaders. They just exude confidence. Heck, I’ve seen this in animals, too.

    The second thing about the great first impression is that some people have the ability to totally shut off any thoughts about themselves and focus “like a laser” on the people they are meeting. They don’t have to pretend to be interested in the ordinary folks they meet; they simply ARE interested. They concentrate EVERY bit of their energy and attention on the folks they meet, and it is amazing to see this.

    Have a great Saturday, baboons!

    Free John Bates!

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    1. Steve, I think there’s a difference between making a great first impression and making a strong connection. I think lots of celebrities make a strong first impression without making any connection at all.

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    2. Steve, from your last comment, “FreeJohn Bates,” I take it there’s a new series of episodes of Donwton Abbey. Am I right?

      Guess all the baboons are at Rock Bend; pretty quiet around here!

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      1. I am here after picking and cleaning grapes and making grape juice. I am currently listening to the last night of the Proms on MPR.

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      2. PJ, I will butt in here since Steve hasn’t answered your question yet. Season 3 of Downton Abbey is scheduled to air in the U.S. in early January. However, it airs starting in mid-September in Britain. So, unless Steve has access to the British airing, I think he is just anticipating the next season.

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  4. If there isn’t some reason that I’m nervous about meeting the new person/people (as PJ mentioned the “shy, insecure mode”), I am usually genuinely curious about them. I find people fascinating, and want to know what it is about this new person that I am going to relate to – there is always something if you get enough time with them.

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  5. Greetings! As other folks mentioned, an authentic, sincere caring and interest in the other person is huge. Some people have that naturally or it is cultivated and practiced to some extent. And then there are those folks with a natural confidence and charisma that you just want to be around.

    At Pillsbury, I worked temporary for a Vice President who was wonderful. Bearing a slight resemblance to Omar Sharif with a tall, powerful build but trim, the man exuded strength and influence. To say he was impeccably groomed was an understatement. He was always PERFECT. Attractive with salt & pepper hair, tailored suit, tailored shirts, French cuffs and haircut every 3-4 weeks. Ted was a delightful executive to work with, inspired his teams, did everything possible to support his employees and was loved by all. He pushed folks to do their best and employees wanted to do their best for him. But if you crossed or disappointed him, he could be a terror — not mean, but you knew he could take you down a few notches.

    One of the managers who worked for Ted described him as someone who “didn’t have any confidence issues.” But he wasn’t arrogant either. Ted went out of his way to help employees, including me. Although he did not hire me as his secretary ( the gal he hired was great and they were a FUN pair), Ted did everything he could to help me get re-hired at Pillsbury and was always asking me how he could assist in my job search.

    Ted may not be famous, but he oozed power, looked amazing, was fastidious and cared deeply about people, his work, his family and his employees. Now that I’ve talked about him, I wonder where he is today. He came from the East coast, but totally fell in love with Minnesota.

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    1. So good to hear from you, Joanne. I was just thinking about you a day or two ago when I read about a bad accident that had happened in or near Big Lake. Hope things are looking up for you?

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      1. Thanks, PJ. We are doing relatively well. I’ve been working temp at this place in Sartell for about 6 months now. Nice job, great place; but not challenging or well-paying. Jim is back in college full-time at St. Cloud State for a Physics degree. Hopefully, he will start working soon. We moved into a nice 3-bedroom townhome in Big Lake for low-income families. Brand new construction and rather nice, so I plan to stay here for a while. The boys are doing well and back in school. I would have loved to go to State Fair, but all the walking is hard on my knees and injured ankle — besides being a money sucker. Hope to be at BBC next week, but have not read book.

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        1. Yes, I’m surrounded by very smart boys. My 17-yr old is helping my husband and oldest son with their college Calculus classes. Jim is highly intelligent, but lacks drive, ambition and stress-coping skills — so finding and keeping good jobs are a constant struggle for him. He is enjoying college and I hope a job using his degree will be amenable for him down the road.

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  6. In a prior job life I worked on a summer program for high school students. We had a motivational speaker that kicked off each week of the program – he was good at engaging the kids and wasn’t smarmy or cloying. One of the things he hit home on during the week was making connections, making friends and the part of his presentation that stuck with me that I try to remind myself of is, “be more interested than interesting.” Pay attention to the person you are with, ask questions, and really listen. Don’t try to dazzle with your wit or intelligence or experiences, be interested. I have a friend (not associate with that summer program or they speaker in question) who is very good at this – I have known him for years. Folks who know him talk about the Ted phenomenon in which you talk with Ted for some length of time and Ted finds out all about what you, your kids, your spouse is up to, what’s new and interesting in your world and then he flits off to some other person and you realize you have no idea what is going on with Ted or his world. He has spent the last (10-20-30) minutes being interested…and is all the more engaging because of it.

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      1. Heh – didn’t make that connection. My pal Ted is charming, but does not fit JiBL’s physical description of her Ted. My pal is probably shorter and tends more to the John Denver or Mickey Rooney sort of look than Omar Sharif…though my pal Ted seems to know everyone, so he may well know Carlos. :D

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        1. How was your phoning experience, Anna? Obama volunteers were knocking on doors in our neighborhood this morning, trying get people to register for voting. Huge effort to get out the vote; hope it pays off.

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        2. Carlos is an oldish joke on here. He, if real, is Donna’s hot Latin lover. Of a similar truth to the “fact” that the faded-into-lurkitude barb in blackhoof is the niece of of Roy Orbison.

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        3. Oooh, Clyde, I’m excited. Two comments from you in so many days. I DO hope that it’s a sign that the nasty lupus is easing up. So hope so.

          It’s a an absolutely beautiful morning out there, should be a GREAT day at Rock Bend.

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        4. PJ – I wound up calling other volunteers and not making voter calls. A little disappointed, but still glad that I was able to give my time to the cause. Will likely make more calls again as I know that administrative work is sort of the unglamorous stuff that just needs to get done.

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  7. Good morning. Curt, the extremely friendly guy I mentioned above was a big fan of The Prairie Home Companion. One night I was listening to PHC during the the fund raising drive. During the break the fund raisers were talking and one of them said she had just had a wonderful conversation with a donor from Hayward, MN which is Curt’s home town. I’m sure she must have talked to Curt. She said the donor told her that he was glad to be a donor because PHC was such a great show and very deserving of receiving donations.

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  8. i often dont make a good first impression because of the exact reasons mentioned above. i think you need to be focused and aware that you are making a first impressionism in order to do it correctly. i tend to go through life with a fairly oblivious view on the things going on around me and if the conversation is part of the equation i can make an impression with my off the cuff remarks. sometimes good sometimes not but maybe a memorable part of the impression i make. i am candid if nothing else. as to having that become a connection. sometimes it happens often not. a strong connection is a thing that is great when it happens but there are so many meetings today that are a passing of two emails in the night where the odds of having it continue beyond this blip are small. i love people who have the ability to stay focused on the being with you part of a relationship but i am guilty of flitty thinking where i tend to be in midsentance and then switch to some thought that pops in and double back to the initial discussion to put a close on what i was initially saying. it makes for face scrunching replies form new acquaintances in the process but its part of the process.

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  9. thanks to krista and the festival folks yesterday. bir and her husband drove linda and i to the festival and there we saw met up with donna and had jim stick his head in krista had the stage over on her side of the world cooking in style and the main stage was fantastic. the sound was wonderful and the music was fantastic. sorry i cant be ther to hear holly today but yesterday was the perfect day with temperature and atmosphere at the perfect level. what a nice day. thanks krista

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    1. It was a great day, and nice to see a few baboons there as tim mentioned. Highlights for me were City Mouse (with Mike Pengra on drums), Chris Smither, and Boiled in Lead. Oh yes, and the pulled pork sandwich… Listened on the way back to Linda’s new Chris Smither CD (I bought one too) in the car.

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    2. I also had a good time at Rock Bend. I didn’t sit with the other Baboons because my wife and I arrived latter in the day and didn’t want to try to fit into the tight space where the others were sitting. Any way, we are kind more back row people and are more comfortable back there. However, I was glad that I was able to “stick my head in” , as tim said, and visit a little with the group of Baboons that were there. I agree with tim that the music was very good and I think that Krista and the other people who run this festival did a great job. Thanks, Krista.

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      1. PJ – here in our country there’s a famous movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise called RainMan that people commonly reference. You should definitely see it!

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  10. If you missed hearing Holly at the Rock Bend Festival today, like I did, you can go to the web site for the band she plays with to see a picture of Holly and the band, String Fever Bluegrass Band. The address is http://www.stringfeverband.com . Holly, please let us know the next time you and the band is scheduled to preform. I would very much like to hear a performance by you and your band.

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    1. I got to hear Holly’s band and they were wonderful. I don’t think Holly stopped smiling the whole time I was watching. I had to leave early for another event but I was lucky enough to encounter Krista backstage and enjoy a few acts. Thanks to Krista and the whole Rock Bend crew for a fabulous event. I’m just sorry that my stay had to be so brief (and that I missed the other 21 years).

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  11. Additional Rock Bend notes:
    – someone got an autograph from Chris Smither.
    – someone was photographed with Cliff Eberhardt and Chris Smither.
    – someone won a pair of earrings in the raffle.
    – someone was stung by a bee.
    – everyone was richly entertained and many danced.

    Hats off to Krista and her colleagues for pulling off this extravaganza yet again.

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