Your route to the top - Connecting with people

Find your common ground. Connecting with colleagues can be as much about personal things as the work you do. Read the sports section or arts review to keep up with their interests.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Make them feel special. We connect best when we feel good about ourselves. Make them feel they're the only person that matters - at least for the duration of the meeting.

Manage your impact. When the British and Japanese meet, they should both shake hands and bow to demonstrate a willingness to accommodate each other. By managing our behaviour, we can have a more positive impact on one another.

Unearth their appeal. Assuming the other person likes themself, there have to be likable things about them, and a manager's job is to find these. Ask questions and listen to the answers rather than picking them apart as they speak.

Hang in there. The challenge is to spot yourself drifting off early on and regain focus quickly. If we remember what it feels like when we start to drift, we can use this feeling as an alarm to wake up and re-focus.

Strike a match. When we get along, we naturally match and mirror each other; so make connections easier by consciously following suit. But be subtle. Practise one element at a time, match head movements or voice tempo. Watch your colleagues and you'll soon get the hang of it.

Keep your opinions to yourself. In some situations, it pays to be quiet. When your prospective client airs differing views on climate change, instead of saying 'no but', try 'yes and'. You'll find difficult connections a lot easier to make.

Get involved. Don't let the other person do all the work. Suggest your own analogy to illustrate their point, or refer back to an earlier topic. Share your insights with them and demonstrate how actively you've been listening.

- 'The Mind Gym: Give me time' is published by Time Warner Books (£12.99). Contact the firm at

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