You are in the trust and cooperation business

12 seconds and counting

Connect as you conclude. “I guess we’re both going to think about how to be more dynamic. You said the one thing you can do is reduce your number of slides in order to have more focus on yourself. As for me, I think I need to find more personal examples.”

“You say your teacher wears weird clothes? Is it sometimes good to get a little weird? How are you weird in a good way?”

There is hardly anything more valuable to building trust and cooperation than a good affirmation. Remember that famous Eric Berne book from way back, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay?” You are basically saying, “I heard you and it got me thinking. You heard me and hopefully, it got you thinking.”

That’s an excellent result from a very brief conversation. 

“Do you usually come here?” could be a pick-up line, but actually is not bad as an opening question. What do you get out of it? Why do you keep coming back? Where are you going from here? – Those are reflective questions that can be the result of a very benign and simple beginning.

Some warnings:

Don’t be over-ambitious. This is not therapy nor an official coaching situation. You just want to be perceived as a person who can listen, care and ask reflective questions. 

Don’t be disappointed. You will not always get short, clever, thoughtful, and reflective responses. “Food for thought” is just as good as a detailed next step. You are in the trust and cooperation creation business, and you do not force thoughts and feelings, only give openings.

Don’t expect solutions. Sure, it’d be great to put your finger on a specific behavior for the next day to move each other forward. No problem going for that, but don’t expect it. Identifying the next step is a consequence of a good conversation and you can try to for that, not always expect it.

Don’t expect emotional catharsis. In fact, that’s not what you want. These types of brief interactions should mostly focus on thoughts and cognition. Sure, if your friend or colleague needs and wants to vent their feelings, you listen and accept and perhaps ask a few questions, but that’s a longer and different type of conversation.