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Baby phone callFirst Things First

There is a procedure to go through before you speak to a friend on the phone. After all, it would be rather pointless to simply pick up the phone and start speaking. As we all know, it works better when you dial first.


The steps go something like this:

    1. Switch your phone on
    2. Dial the number
    3. Wait for the call to be answered
    4. Check if its the answering service (and if so leave a message)
    5. Say Hi
    6. Start talking!


If you skip a step and jump to “Start talking” too soon, your friend is likely to miss part of your message. We all learned this process at some point in our lives – it seems so natural that we don’t generally think about it unless something goes wrong.

Face to Face Communication

There is an equivalent process to go through before we talk to someone even when we are face to face with them. It isn’t so formal, and it can be so automatic that we even forget that there are any steps involved. We generally learn it long before we learn to use a phone. It goes something like this.

    1. Get someone’s attention (for example: make eye contact, say “Hi”)
    2. Establish a connection = build rapport
    3. Start talking!


Step 2 is not optional – it is absolutely essential. Without it, you might as well speak to the wall. George Bernard Shaw famously said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

So why is it that when we are speaking face to face with others we so often forget step 2? In fact in couple relationships, step 2 is often assumed to have taken place when it clearly has not. Which is why we so often hear: “That’s not what I said!”, “Why do you never listen to me?” and “But that’s not what I meant!”

Step Two

So what does step 2 really involve? It requires copying or mirroring the other person. It’s a subliminal dance that happens between two people, often unconsciously. Take a quick look at the image on this previous blog post and consider what it means to you. Establishing rapport is so automatic that we automatically sense that communication is limited if, for example, one person is sitting and the other is standing. But it goes much deeper than this. When we are really connected with someone we have to be in a similar “headspace” as them, and this is always reflected to some degree in matched body language.

Using It

So whenever you want to make absolutely sure that your message gets through, pay some attention to step 2. Take note of the non-verbal cues and don’t begin the real message until you are sure you have established a strong connection. 

If you want to improve your relationships, contact in8 to discover some simple and practical steps that you can start using immediately.