We love these tips that Marie-Josee Schaar, MPP (Master of Applied Positive Psychology) created for our readers because they are based on science. We can use her tips when we connect with one and other every day and when out ‘working the pond’. Our notes are in italic. Marie-Josee is the author of the just-released book Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Wellbeing.
1- Focus on your out breath. Breathing out activates the parasympathetic nervous system, or the body’s relaxation response. In fact, when we tell someone to “take a deep breath”, we really should be asking them to “push a deep breath [out]”. Doing so helps by bringing about a little more stillness and calmness in our minds and bodies. Imagine using this when you have just had a not-so-great encounter with someone in your office. Instead of reacting to them, try this technique.
2- Hang out with people who smile the most. Thanks to the brain’s mirror cells, emotions are highly contagious. Here’s how it works: when we see others smile, our mirror cells pick up on their emotions, and without noticing we smile with them – like we are echoing their emotion. Our brains then interpret our smiling as meaning that we feel good, which in turns contributes to getting us out of survival mode. The same is true of negative emotions by the way, so paying close attention to the energy you surround yourself with can really impact how you feel during your networking. When at a networking event gravitate to the friendly people and disengage from people who are trying to get you to catch their negative virus. Do the same at work, gravitate to the positive people.
3- Focus on the other person. That’s the best way to step away from your own stress, and create a genuine connection. When two people connect meaningfully and start to trust one another, their bodies slow down the production of stress hormones and replace it with feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. This hormonal change helps them feel warmer and more secure, thus getting them out of survival mode. At that next networking event, if you come armed with this information (if I focus on the other person I will release serotonin and oxytocin) then you will use this technique.
4- Offer your help. According to Founder of Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, doing something kind for someone else is one of the best mood boosters ever tested. It will help you bond with a new person, make you feel good about yourself, and chances are they will want to reciprocate – all of which will propel you in performance mode. This is the essence of Positive Networking®!
5- Put your phone down! First and foremost, texting and taking phone calls between two handshakes is rude, and it makes you look like you are trying too hard, you are not in control of your agenda, or your priorities aren’t straight. But equally important, the extra multi-tasking is an extra stress that you don’t need, and that prevents you from doing #1, 2, 3 and 4 above well. Marie-Josee is right on the money, left to their own devices, people would rather be on their device than talk to another person face to face.
(Read our blog post on how we met Marie-Josee; that’s how amazing connections happen!)