I’m happy to introduce another guest author, Tim Rye who operates Extra Space Storage, and has much to tell about face to face communication skills.  Read more about Tim or contact him from his info at the end of the article.

One of my friends just came into the room. Oh, there’s another one. No, I’m not at a party (who has time for social events like that?) — I just happen to have my social networking software up and it’s telling me whenever a friend logs onto Facebook, sends me a tweet, or starts to compose an IM. The truth is, I can go for days interacting with friends and colleagues only via computer.

It’s great to be able to stay in touch this way, but as a result, I find that those occasional face to face encounters have become all the more precious. Ironically, I spend more time interacting with littlegreenbutton than I do with my friends, family, or even my coworkers! But I believe in learning whatever you can from the experiences life gives you — and I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most from a face to face interaction by talking with my customers. Here are a few tips:

Make time for face time

Don’t turn down a chance to network with your colleagues because it will tear you away from your computer. I’m not an introvert — you can’t be in my line of work — but I know a lot of people who are. And for those individuals, the temptation to become a computer hermit is strong. If the opportunity for face time does not arise naturally, look for a professional conference to go to or even a lecture to attend. Or take the time to drop off a document in person (if it needs to go to someone in your town), just so you have a chance to say hello in person. Staying in touch through Facebook is good — but actual face to face time can really cement your connection. Make time for it.

Increase your vibration before you meet.

Increase your vibration? This is a New Age term I’ve been hearing from some of my customers — but to me it means, find a way to get your energy up before you meet with someone. If you are feeling down and depressed, you’ll be looking down a lot and your voice will seem flat. You won’t be able to seem interested in another person. So raise your energy in whatever way works for you — sing in the car on the way to your meeting, exercise that morning, drink a glass of orange juice or coffee — do whatever it takes to help you to feel cheerful and pleasant to be around. Most people can’t fake a good mood very effectively — so jolly yourself into a good mood, if you have to, before your face to face interaction. Extroverts seem to cheer up just by being around people, but if you are an introvert, you will have to take time to do this in advance.

Make eye contact.

In a meeting with colleagues or customers, don’t spend all your time looking down at your papers and taking notes. Not that having papers and notes is a bad thing — it can be a way to increase your credibility. But, I have to tell you, having facts and figures on the tip of your tongue, information that you can pull right out of your head, increases your credibility even more. Looking at people is hard if you are an introvert, but it shows people that you genuinely care and are interested in them. If you are too shy to look in someone’s eye, use an old self-defense trick: look at a point just over one of their shoulders. Believe it or not, it will still appear as though you are looking them in the eye.

Ask questions.

As they say on Sesame Street, asking questions is a good way to find out things you want to know! It’s true when you are a student, but it is equally true when you are a business owner or manager. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people are flattered when others take an interest in them.

Respect nonverbal cues.

Some nonverbal cues say “don’t talk to me right now.” Sometimes people don’t want to talk — yet. But pay attention, because “I don’t feel like talking” can turn into “I have a question” in the blink of an eye. You can tell when that change occurs by watching for nonverbal cues. Notice when a customer goes from a “head’s down” position, reading brochures and looking over merchandise, to a “head’s up” position, looking around and actively seeking to make eye contact with someone.

Have some down time later.

Again, this tip may not apply to you if you are an extrovert — but if you are a natural extrovert, you may not need to read this post at all! If you don’t get energized by being around people — if face to face interaction is a chore for you — then give yourself some time off between face to face interactions, if you can. Give yourself down time to recharge your batteries so that you can bring your energy back up for your next interaction. It’s worth taking the time to make sure that you are able to make the most out of each of your face to face experiences. But if one doesn’t go as well as you’d like, don’t worry about that either. I like to change the old saying, “Life is not a rehearsal,” and turn it on its head. The fact is, life IS a rehearsal. What comes before is practice for what comes next. So if a face to face doesn’t go so well, remind yourself that it was practice — and learn from it for next time.

Remember: most people say they are happiest when they have regular face to face interactions with other people. Don’t be shy about your face time with people — even if they are “merely” casual acquaintances — revel in it!

Tim Eyre helps residential and business customers who use self storage when they don’t have enough storage space on their own property. Tim’s company – Extra Space Storage – has locations from coast to coast, including Boston self storage storage and multiple Philadelphia self storage locations.

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