Chameleons Adapt and Successful People Do Too!
Have you ever seen a chameleon? As you can see from the picture chameleons blend in; they adapt to their environment. It’s a protection mechanism!
Chameleons Are Safer When They Blend In
Obviously it’s not a matter of the chameleon making a choice; rather it’s a natural response or instinct. Blending in is their defensive mechanism which kicks in when they sense danger.
We Feel Safer When We Blend In
Many people use the same defensive mechanism, they blend in to overcome their natural fears. They use this defensive mechanism as they move into unfamiliar situations or encounters with people they don’t know.
There Are Simple Ways To Blend In
Some of the simple things we do to blend in include: smiling when someone smiles at us. Saying hi or hello if someone says hi or hello to us. Taking someone’s hand when offered and shaking it. These responses make you a chameleon because you are blending in. You are doing what is expected so you can blend in; no more, no less.
As I describe the process; I’m describing myself. I only did the minimum that is until I got to know someone and became comfortable with them. But eventually I was inspired to do more from the get go!
Inspired to Be More
In my desire to learn more about networking; not just connecting but actually turning connections into acquaintances and acquaintances into friends I started reading and studying. I found books by Roger and Sally Horchow, Nicholas Boothman, Debra Fine, Keith Ferrazzi, Liz Lynch, Malcolm Gladwell, Brian Tracy and a host of others. They were an inspiration in my goal of being a better connector, acquaintance and friend.
In his book, “How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less”, Nicholas Boothman identifies the importance of being chameleon like. Unlike the chameleon or even himself blending in with the environment; Nick talks about blending with your audience. Whether it is an audience of one or many what can you do and how can you act to make your audience feel more comfortable? The answer: blend with them, become one of them.
Successful People Act Like Chameleons
Successful people go beyond the basics of simply smiling, saying hello or shaking hands. They know there are many additional ways to make people more comfortable.
What successful people do:
- They reach out with friendly gestures;
- They make others feel comfortable and at ease;
- They take cues from and follow the actions of others;
- They get excited when others are excited;
- They talk fast when others talk fast;
- They laugh when others laugh;
- They talk softly when others talk softly;
- They sit forward when others sit forward;
- They listen intently when others talk;
- They don’t spend time talking about themselves, they encourage others to talk;
- They relax when others relax; and
- They take on characteristics of their audience.
Why We Need to Become Chameleons
Whether you are on either side of a job interview, meeting a new prospective customer or in any number of other social or business situations the ability to put others at ease will set you apart. Your goal is to connect, not just add a name to your list of contacts, and what better way to connect then to have others feel comfortable with you.
You want an audience mind-set that says…
I want to do business, employ, work for, serve with or whatever with this person and I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.
We must become chameleons to make this happen! We must connect with and understand our audience.
Think about the people who make you feel good, those you enjoy being around; what’s the draw? If you step back you will see it’s all a matter of being comfortable. Take the opposite approach and think about the individuals who do not give you a good feeling; they make you uncomfortable and you will do anything to avoid being put in a situation where they are present. The more comfortable you are; the deeper the relationship.
Learn to Be a Chameleon
In business, in life and in connections we need to learn to be chameleons. We need to learn to blend in because it allows our new connections to feel comfortable with us. We need to be chameleons to speed up the connecting process.
There are many things we can do which go far beyond being a chameleon during the initial connection. Boothman talks about many of these including how you speak, the cadence of your voice, the vocabulary you use, the speed with which you speak, the way you hold your head and hands, the way you sit and posture, or the way you lean in or sit back.
Watch the other person and follow their lead. As Boothman has found in his research acting chameleon like can elicit the comment, “I feel like I have known you for years and here we have just met for the first time.”