I’ve written plenty recently about Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, a new book about those euphoric moments when we hit it off with someone and know the relationship will stick. So I was thrilled to get to talk to Rom Brafman, one of the book’s authors, yesterday.
I know from reading the Brafman brothers’ research that there are certain factors that make clicking more likely. The click accelerators that they write about are proximity, vulnerability, resonance, similarity and a safe place. If I sit next to someone every day, or if we have the same birthday and share an adoration for mashed potatoes, we’re more likely to hit it off. But what if there’s someone who I really want to become friends with? Are there steps I can take to manufacture a connection?
Brafman says this is where the power of the narrative comes in.
“My guess is that if I recorded a conversation between you and your friends in New York, most of that conversation would be each of you relating stories of things that happened to you. Whether it be funny things or gossip or newsy stories. ‘You’ll never guess what happened…’ type stuff,” he says. “When we introduce ourselves to new people, we get in that element of ‘Oh, this person needs to know about me, so let me tell her how long ago I graduated from high school or why I moved here.’ It’s very factual, but it’s not very interesting.”
I never actually noticed this distinction, but he’s exactly right. When Callie returned from her honeymoon last week, we spent 51 minutes on the phone swapping stories of the last two weeks. But when I arrive at a girl-date with someone who could be my Chitown Callie, it’s more like an interview.
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do?”
“When did you move here?”
It’s very factual, but it’s not very interesting.
There are ways of obtaining said knowledge without grilling your dinner date, Brafman says. If you share stories of your life, those details will emerge.
When I meet someone new, questions are my immediate go-to. But for my upcoming dates—and I’ve got some on the schedule—I’m going to avoid the usual inquisition and defer to stories instead.
Maybe the one about how I locked myself out of the house for 45 minutes on Sunday. Or how I recently did interviews for the release of The Social Network and just before the last one, an actor told me that both my bra straps were hanging out of my sleeves. They had fallen to my elbows. Who does that happen to? Me, obviously. And maybe Mary Tyler Moore.
If those tales of my brilliance don’t win over a new friend, I don’t know what will.
Have you ever noticed this difference in conversation between old friends and new ones? Do you think this one tweak in girl-date behavior can speed up a click?