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It's A Gray Area: Remember the four Cs when making friends

June 25, 2011|By Jim Gray

Within the first three to five minutes of meeting someone new, that person will have formed a strong feeling about who you are, how much they will like, trust and have confidence in you, and whether they will want to form a relationship with you. And you will reach the same conclusions about them.

This is the message of "Contact: The First Four Minutes: A Practical Approach to Meeting the Right Person" (Ballantine Books, 1994).

The verbal and non-verbal messages we send can be important in both our personal and professional lives, no matter who we are. This is true in interviewing for a job, soliciting business, greeting a new potential customer, meeting people at social functions or in potential dating relationships.

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Thus it would not only help each of us to focus upon these critical first four minutes, we should also teach our children, grandchildren, employees, students and anyone else we care about to focus on them as well. My wife has included a summary of "The First Four Minutes" in her training manual at Walker Physical Therapy for years to guide her employees on ways better to greet and serve her patients, and she says it has worked famously well.

The four factors that are most effective in initial verbal contacts are confidence, creativity, caring and consideration — otherwise known as the Four Cs. Any successful initial encounter must convey at least a threshold amount of self-confidence. Being timid, apologetic or self-deprecating does not inspire confidence and, when seen as a first impression, make a meaningful relationship problematic.

Showing creativity not only displays innovation and problem-solving, it also implies sensitivity to the feelings of others. People are attracted to others who show that they can take a large amount of diverse information, make sense of it, and come up with creative ways of getting the job done.

People are seen as being caring if they give complete attention to their new acquaintance.

Dale Carnegie said it best: "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

Being considerate is shown by the absence of criticism and by not doing things to imply that you are superior and others are inadequate. One way of showing this is by gently helping your new acquaintances to clarify or expound upon their thoughts as they are expressing them.

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