Wednesday, October 5, 2011

8 Interaction Influencers

Recently I experienced something akin to an interview. I pitched my books to several editors at a writer’s conference. And believe you me I was hypersensitive to the words I chose, the way I walked in the room, down to whether or not the soup served at lunch (imbued with a good helping of curry) was still lingering on my breath.

The thing is…I cared. I care about my interactions and the impression I leave. You know what, I could tell the editors I met with cared too.

Here’s how I could tell:

Firm Handshake
As soon as we were within reach, the editors offered me a strong handshake. Let me tell you, the manner in which you shake matters. I’m so not a fan of the wilting flower. On the flip side, I get a little weirded out by the jackhammer. But shake my hand with confidence and you have my attention.

Eye Contact (at appropriate times)
See what I added in the parenthesis above? It’s key. During a crucial interaction it pays to pay attention. One of the best ways to physically demonstrate you are engaged is to provide eye contact (not stare or admire my stylish top). I felt heard when the editors gave strong eye contact.

Waiting your turn like toddlers in a sandbox doesn’t change much. The setting changes, but the waiting bit...that’s a lifetime thing. There’s a time to talk and a time to listen. Interrupting is a surefire way to express that your point is more important. Didn’t have this happen. Whew.

Ask Questions
I love this one. Jesus was a pro at it. You show me you are interested when you ask me a question. I felt the curiosity. I’m also an odd bird, in that I love it when you stump me—when you make me think.

Smile & Mirror
Invaluable. Smiles are obviously inviting. Mirroring expressions also demonstrates honed communication skills. Check and check.

Okay, this was cool. I know the editors were inundated with appointments all weekend, which makes evidence of all the above that much more meaningful for me. But the editors also took notes. Sure, to keep track. Sure, so their eyes would stay open. But it caused me to feel important. I loved the note taking.

Validating and Repeating
Several times the editors would clarify by repeating what one of my stories was about or they’d repeat a name of a character. This helped center me and remind me they aimed to understand. Excellent listening technique.

Body Language
And I am 100% grateful I didn’t see any watch checks, eye rolls, or hippo yawns. I got a lean forward and a hula dance (kidding on that one…just seeing if you’re still with me). But the lean forward felt good. I’m just hoping the editor didn’t lean so far as to detect my curry breath.

Can you think of any additional interaction influencers you’ve encountered?

*photo by flickr


  1. Great list, Wendy! And I agree about the handshake. Amazing how it can affirm or turn off.

  2. Uh-oh. LOL Not sure if I did any of those except eye contact and smile. Heeheee.
    Your interviews went so well! I can't wait to see what happens. :-)

  3. Super list, girl! I like all of those things too.

    I'm so with you on the handshake.

  4. So true that time-appropriate eye contact is key: too much can be bad! I have a hard time listening if I am not constantly looking at the speaker, so in college I often got called on...even when I had nothing to contribute! Eye contact is good but too much is...well, too much.

    Glad your interview went well--how exciting!

  5. Body language is so fascinating, and telling. I think another interaction influencer is our own gut feelings. They usually seem to be right on target, and it sounds like you have lots of positive vibes from these appointments! Fingers crossed for good news :)

  6. Love the list and I love the leaning forward too! :)

  7. Great list! I can't think of anything to add. Sounds like you had wonderful interviews and glad the hoola dance wasn't real. Imagine what the other editors in the room would have thought?

  8. I hate the frozen dead jellyfish handshake! :)

    And I loved your flying hug that I got at conference. :D

    I got an "ooo" out of my one appointment. Liked that.

  9. Great list! Handshake is sooooo important, as well as eye contact. I think you can tell a lot about a person and what they are thinking with those 2 things.

  10. Sounds like you had some great interviews. Fun!

    I'm a bit worried about the handshake though. I've got some sort of old lady arthritis thing now and can't handle a firm shake. What WILL they think of me?

  11. Great list, Wendy. I agree with Joann about that ever-telling gut feeling...

  12. Great list, Wendy.

    I've also heard - never wear perfume or body never know who might be allergic to it. I would hate for an agent or editor to start an uncontrollable sneeze fit in the middle of my pitch.

  13. Terrific list, Wendy. I like the questions and the leaning the best. The watch checking and yawning is a giveaway they're just not that into me. I don't think I have anything else to add. I'll be sure to check back next year before conference for a refresher.

  14. What a great list, Wendy. I'm sure you charmed the editors from the get-go with your megawatt smile and wowed them with your wonderful way of communicating, which I feel certain comes through in your stories as well as your speech. You are awesome!

    I wish I could think of a question to ask that would stump you or at least give you pause since you like them so much, but I'm fresh out today. =(

  15. Great list, and we need to keep this in mind when we connect with everyday people. Don't you just hate it when people check their texts while you're talking to them...that's equivalent to watch checking!

  16. Once again, you've hit the nail on the head, Wendy! :) Great post. I think for me the smile is so important. It lets me know they're happy to meet me and human, all at the same time.

  17. Thanks for sharing. I think it all boils down to letting the other person know he/she counts/is important. Great list.


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