Secret Sense of Touch for Rapport

hands-with-heartsWe all crave to be touched. Often, hospitals provide volunteers to rock infants that are not being provided the necessary endearments of love from parents that are unable to visit. Studies have continually shown the need for the attribution of love through the sensory of touch. As we spend more and more time in our cubicle and in front of the computer monitor, the stimulation of the physical touch is craved.

The hand can also be used to make a physical connection with another person. This is called haptics. When we are touched appropriately, we develop a positive reaction and deepen the rapport. In strained relationships, touching is minimized or only for social graces. Quite often, strained relationships will achieve touching with fingertips, as opposed to the full hand touch. Females will generally touch more than males. Just watch the average social gatherings of a girls’ night out. There is a lot of touching among friends. Males tend to be reluctant to touch females, fearing the wrong impression and being shackled in a jail cell.

A supervisor may provide a haptic touch of encouragement or reassurance to a subordinate. It might be a pat on the upper back or the shoulder for a job well done. I cannot stress enough caution in this area. In this age of sexual harassment lawsuits, a touch witnessed by others, could be construed as a platform for litigious intentions. When in doubt, don’t.

While conducting interviews of suspects, on occasion when the situation was warranted, I might touch the knee region or the upper arm to the shoulder with a reassuring touch. This developed an unconscious bond. I was letting them know, it was all right to relieve their anxiety in the form of a confession.

Do not be a lingerer. Lingerers can be viewed as creepy. Subordinates should never touch a boss unless a moment of levity occurs and the boss is cracking a joke. You reach up and touch their arm for emphasis of the humor.

The gentle touch on the arm develops a bond. I was eating at Stonewood Grill and I observed this behavior. The server, who was doing an excellent job as always, gently touched my bicep in response to a lighter moment. Did that earn her a higher tip? It did not hurt. Most people would not even notice that gentle fleeting touch, but your brain felt the touch. Studies support this “Midas Touch” theory of non-sexual touching. Tips increase for the servers, who provide a gentle unassuming touch on the hand or shoulder of their customer.

On another occasion at the same restaurant, I watched an elderly man sitting by himself eating. I felt sorry for him eating without company. Then I watched the server sit down across from him and engage in some conversation for a couple of minutes. I thought what a nice gesture. As he stood up, he patted the customer on the shoulder. I pointed this out to my family and later spoke with the manager about this genuine display of empathy.

People like to touch or stroke others and inanimate objects. People receive solace from petting their dogs. Many retirement homes will have designated days in which pets are brought in, so the residents will receive the satisfaction of the sense of touching the pets. We all enjoy the gentle touch of a parent or loved one. The ultimate haptic touch of developing rapport is with the lips!

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The Mirror of Body Language

Isopraxism is the fancy word for mirroring of another person.

With most people, we see some degree of mimicking. Whether it is by style of dress, actions, manner of dress, or speech we all do it to some degree. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Most people adapt and change to fit in. Everyone wants to assimilate with others.

Professor Tanya Chartrand of Duke University and Professor John Bargh at New York University, call this the “chameleon effect.” Their research led to the groundbreaking study on the natural tendencies of people to imitate speech and physical expressions. After one experiment, they concluded that students whose behavior was imitated rated their experimenters as more likable. The participants also reported having had smoother interactions with the copycats.

Less can sometimes be more. Remember how annoying children can get when they parrot your conversation. It starts amusing, but quickly wears thin. It is the same in real life. Although you are attempting to establish rapport, if the person you are emulating becomes aware of your mirroring, it will become obvious, self-defeating, and annoying just like the parroting kid.

Students who rated high on empathy were more likely to imitate others. Narcissists would have difficulty in this department. People like to be around empathetic people. You know, “I feel your pain.”

As you are talking with people, you can mirror some of the words used within their discussion. Just season the stew a little. If someone is talking about repetitive sales volume is an important facet of their business, you could use the term repetitive sales volume in the discussion. That perks up their ears like an alert puppy dog and lets them to know you are listening.

You can mimic their body language as well. If they cross their leg, follow suit and cross yours. If they lean in towards you, then edge towards them. Do not do it action for action. Pause a few moments before mirroring or risk being exposed. Hold your hands like them and mirror their posture. Space your legs at the same distance and the same angle. If their arms are crossed over their chest, you follow suit. If they smile, flash one back. Always position your torso and feet towards the subject of your conversation.

Mimicry is a top-secret technique to bonding and developing rapport.

For more tips on increasing your powers of observations and developing rapport through body language, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :

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Sherlock Holmes Observation is not Elementary

Think about this. Tomorrow you will be struck in the head with a piece of the space shuttle and lose your sight. Would you spend your last day sitting in front of the flat panel TV or feverishly trying to reach the end of the internet? In all probability, you would run outside and see as much of the world and as many of your close friends as you could. You would hang on every crease in someone’s face or the beauty of the monarch butterfly floating between the radiant scented flowers. These are items you see every day, but have chosen to ignore.

Observing is a platform for exploration and developing relationships. Your observations will be your introduction into identifying common points of interest. Once you have established your mutual commonality, you can then begin the interview process to deepen rapport and the relationship.

Sherlock-Holmes-007Sherlock Holmes said, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Perhaps you have heard that statement uttered on the brilliant new CBS show, Elementary. I love watching Sherlock’s observations and deductive reasoning.  Many of us are so consumed with life and electronics that we fail to observe the obvious. Our brain has limited resources for processing external stimuli and often we miss the obvious.  Look at this short video developed by Professor Daniel Simons. Despite being focused on the video, fifty percent will miss obvious events.:

Instead of solving crimes like Sherlock Holmes, how about using your observation skills to develop rapport with a neighbor, date or a sales client. To become adept at observing, you must be open to all senses. Your body is always open to the stimulation of sights and sounds, but how about the feel of a new couch, the smell of a new car, or the taste of a great meal, in which you decipher a particular spice. Can you decipher the scent of the cologne or perfume of your love interest? You cannot walk into a Starbucks without your sense of smell being invigorated by the aroma of coffee. Look for a logo on a shirt or an unusual accessory to compliment.

I recently accompanied my wife for a simple surgical procedure. I surprised the radiologist when I asked if he enjoyed his bike. He had a puzzled look, as did my wife. I clarified with him concerning his motorcycle. He admitted that he did ride and asked how I knew. I observed the white lines creased into his tanned skin from the sunglasses running between the eyes to his ears. Yes, he could have spent the weekend fishing, but I had surveyed his clunky jewelry and took an educated guess based on observations. If he was not on early morning pre-op rounds, I could have asked what kind of motorcycle he rode, what was his favorite road trip and where he enjoys riding locally. From the doctor standpoint, I could have asked where he went to medical school and how long he had been in medicine and where he was raised.

Most times if you have done your homework, you will find that you have a common point of interest with your conversational partner. Your goal is to turn them into a friend. Combined with background information and your powers of observation, you will be able to identify common points of interest. Expertise in this endeavor will come from experience and practice. You do not have to be Sherlock Holmes or Joan Watson on Elementary to become an adept observer.

For more tips on increasing your powers of observations and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :

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Science of Smiles for First Impressions & Positive Body Language

What is the most visible body language or facial gesture to create first impression? A smile.

Almost every news program and newspaper are extolling the negative virtues of the world. The economy is crumbling and falling off the fiscal cliff, tragic school shootings, and winter storms. With this lack of civility and negativity, it is sometime difficult to find anything to place a smile on your face. This past spring at an annual Yankee’s ball game I attended with a group of friends, I realized that my life was out of balance. The laughter had stopped. I took inventory and realized I needed to make changes before I became miserable. I had to replace the frown with a smile.

smileWhen you flash a genuine smile at someone, the results are always positive. Studies conclude that people who smile frequently are seen as being more confident and successful, are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if they are smiling, and bosses are more likely to promote people who smile a lot. The bottom line is that smiles generate a positive response. I feel better when I smile. Even when I am blue and someone is able to elicit a smile, I feel just a tad better for that moment. Smiles are usually reciprocated.

Dr. Paul Ekman, the foremost expert on facial gestures reported that a smile could be observed from 300 feet. I do not know if these people wore glasses or not, but I would agree that a smile is always recognizable. Positive emotions are often associated with smiles, both for the recipient and the deliverer. It is what we all want to see. No one wants to see a frown on the loved ones face or the boss.

Do not be a smile flooder. You want to avoid having the smile attached to your face like a plastic Halloween mask. When you are introduced to a new person, hold on to the release of the smile for just a second and then show the pearly whites. It demonstrates to the recipient that you enjoy their presence.

As we approach someone for the first time and smile, throw in an eyebrow flash or a quick wink. It is a bonding agent. I saw President Reagan do that frequently. He was quick with a smile, but enjoyed giving that wink. That immediately indicates, hey I like you and increases your likeability factor. You do not want to use it in a job interview or to a cop writing a speeding ticket.

The act of smiling releases the feel good endorphins from the brain, which leads to making us feel happier. Paul Ekman and University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson, used brain scans to show that smiling activates some parts of the brain associated with pleasure and happiness. Keep that smile on your face.

For more tips on developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :



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Holiday Party Body Language Tips

So, you will be able to celebrate the dropping of the ball and some libations at a party you scored an invitation. When it comes time to socializing, keep in mind the party dynamics. There will usually be a polarization effect. Most times, birds of a feather will flock together. When you arrive, are you an aggressive hunter, are you seeking out guests to meet, or are you curling up in the corner in the fetal position?

Want to develop new friendships, deepen rapport and monitor your body language? Here are some tips.

At a social gathering, you will normally have pockets of different conversations occurring. I play I-Spy and eavesdrop. I flitter around like a covert spy listening to each conversation. I move from group to group, until I find something I am interested in and can ease into the group.

If you hear a topic you know a little about, jump on that like a squirrel on a nut. Look at the feet of the folks in the group. If someone has his or her feet pointing out, that is the white space to fill. Those that have their feet pointed inward and shoulders squared to the group are displaying the most interest. Slide into the group and listen. When a pause occurs in the conversation, offer your two cents of brilliance.

Want to establish conversation with a stranger on the buffet line. Using this simple method is a quick and easy way to remember how to engage people in conversation. Use the acronym: FORM

Family – Married? Children? Spouse and children’s interests/activities? Where do you live?

Occupation – find out what they do and make their occupation sound like the most important job. I value everyone’s contribution to the economy or the community. If you are not sure of what their job is, ask them a lot of open-ended questions to explain their job.

Religion/Recreation. Religion can be a minefield. Most times, examining religion is more dangerous than ascending Mount Everest. What do they like to do for fun? Dancing, golf, tennis, scrap-booking, Bunco, hiking, etc. Where do they go on vacation? Ask those active listening and open-ended questions.

Main Interests/Money/Message – This can be tricky as well. You are exploring the source of their income and what gets them out of bed.

All of these questions allow you to develop a relationship and become likeable. Find something in common. It provides the conversational partner the sense that you are interested in them.

Avoid talking too much. We have all heard the “Chatty Cathy” that figures the more information they throw at you the more informed you would be. Less is more. Make it all about them, not about you.

Listen Listen Listen - I cannot stress this enough. You should be listening three times more than you talk. Point your torso and feet towards the persons of interest. Ask how they were selected to attend the gathering or their connection to the host. That will stimulate further conversation.

Proxemics - is the name given for establishing body distance. We all have certain zones of comfort. After the initial grip and grin, most people will retreat to their normal space and do not encroach.

Smile – When you flash a genuine smile at someone, the results are always positive. Smiles generate a positive response. The act of smiling releases the feel good endorphins from the brain, which leads to making us feel happier. Brain scans show that smiling activates parts of the brain associated with pleasure and happiness.

Face - I’ll keep this short. If a person’s mouth and nose is moving around more than a spin cycle of a washing machine, it is a good bet that they are not copasetic with your conversation.

Eye contact – When you first meet someone, make sure you address the person with your eyes. The eyes reflect that you have an interest in the recipient. Due to cultural differences, some people are reluctant to look you in the eye.

The optimum time frame to maintain eye contact is around seventy percent of the time. Focus your initial gaze on the golden triangle of the face. This is the region covering the eyes through the mouth.

Handshake – There is nothing like a firm handshake web to web. We have all felt extremes. One person crushes the hand, while others have felt like a wilting rose. Adjust the grip as you grab the hand. Another subtle technique of dominance is a person that grabs your hand and either pulls your body towards them, or attempts to give a slight roll of the hand to exert their dominance. Accept it for what it is. Do not be a lingerer. Squeeze and release. The lingerers are viewed as creepy.

Hugs – As a society, we are now hugging more than ever. We are all among friends and the embrace is a welcome sign of affection. When we are greeting for the first time, the hug becomes kind of an awkward dance. Should I or should I not? Let the other person set the tone.

Male to female hugging is a more tepid world and should always be established by the female. Hugging can be a great method to establish rapport. We enjoy the stimulation of touch. On first meetings, you can never go wrong with a handshake.

Hands – Oh what to do with the hands. They do seem to get in the way at times. The most neutral position is at the sides along the hips. After the initial greeting, the hands are really in the way. Keep them visible. It helps to have one hand occupied with a beverage or a folder.

Arms – Where the hands go, so go the arms. Keep the arms from crossing the midsection. Avoid placing your arms in a position known as the fig leaf. That is where the hands drop over the privies and cover them like fig leaf. It is a position of weakness. Placing the arms behind the back is a position known as the royal or regal stance. It projects a dominant stance and sets the tone that you believe that your status is higher. Another strong dominant position is arms akimbo. This is the position in which you place your hands on your waist and the elbows point out away from the body. It is a territorial display and not conducive to the first impression.

Legs and Feet – Keep them pointed in the direction of the person or group of interest. Where your feet will normally point, is in your direction of interest. Point your feet and body towards your conversational partner.

The End – Most important, have fun and laugh. For more information on rapport building and interpersonal communications, take a look at my book – Face 2 Face.

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Sandy Hook, Newtown Shooting Debate Issues

While working on repairing my Christmas lights, I heard the laughter of children next door. It brought a smile to my face. I love the sound of children laughing.  A worried 9-year-old neighbor asked my wife, if something like Sandy Hook could happen to her school. My wife tried to calm her frayed nerves. One of the fathers of a child, who escaped physical harm at Sandy Hook, had a similar conversation shortly before the shooting. He said the odds were astronomical. Children should be laughing not crying.

As the country, moves forward from this evil act in Newtown, there will be debate on many passionate issues about mass killings and in particular the response to the horrendous school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I believe there should be serious debate on all of these issues. Often after a catastrophe, theoretical ideas should be deeply evaluated for effectiveness. As a short note on my knowledge, I spent 33 years in law enforcement, the last 15 conducting threat assessments of potential lone shooters/stalkers. I am an adjunct faculty instructor on Threat Assessments of Lone Shooters.

Physical security.

Many have asked for armed security at all schools including the NRA. If I thought it would prevent another tragedy, I would be in favor. Considering the expense and the likely results to this feel good measure, I find this measure ineffective. Every year, highly trained and skilled police officers are killed in the line of duty. Some knowing they are entering harm’s way and others while doing something as mundane as having a cup of coffee, as was the case in Washington, when four officers were assassinated while eating at a restaurant. This past week, five police officers were gunned down across the country. How many banks are robbed despite security guards, alarms, and robust security measures?

An armed police officer who engaged the shooters and exchanged gunshots protected Columbine High School but the tragic consequences were not altered. The Holocaust and Capital shooters were not deterred while entering a highly secure environment protected by armed police officers. The Aurora shooter wore ballistic armor. The Virginia Tech shooter chose to risk a confrontation with an armed campus police force in a heightened state of alert. He was not deterred, nor the others who were focused on completing their vile missions.


The gunmen in these mass killings did not just snap as, so many advocated on the evening news. No one wakes up in the morning, hits the snooze alarm, and decides to engage in a mass killing spree. These suspects are consumed in what I refer to as an “emotional negative vortex.” It is an accumulation of negative events within their sphere of influence. Many had planned their violence for an extended period. According to early reporting, the Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza, was in the process of being committed by his frustrated mother. You must stand in the shooters flip-flops and view the world. Most of them have “their” world collapsing around them. These people are not deterred from attaching some significance to their meaningless life.

They want to make a statement and use the media as a leveraging co-conspirator in their platform to achieve fame. Arthur Bremer, the shooter of George Wallace, was concerned at how the newspapers would cover his downgrading his target from the President to a presidential candidate. The Columbine shooters discussed what actors would portray them in the movies. In 1972, every terrorist in the world recognized the platform that news coverage provided to their cause during the killing of the Israeli athletes at the Olympics. CNN was a game changer in 1980. Now the 24/7 news cycle provides an insatiable appetite for real time news. The media stage is an added and important incentive.

Hollywood and video games

Violent entertainment is often blamed as a contributing factor to mass killings. It is hypocritical of many actors who oppose guns, but willingly take a paycheck from a violent movie.  As opposed to Stephen King, who asked that his book Rage go out of print after being linked with two different shooters. There is an associative reaction when you are munching on popcorn, popping Junior Mints, while gleefully watching violent images on the screen. Taxi Driver inspired John Hinckley in his love-obsessed worship of Jodie Foster, and the wounding of four in his assassination attempt of President Reagan. George Henard, the murderer of 24 diners at the Luby’s Cafeteria in Lubbock, Texas, was believed to be inspired by the move The Fisher King. The Columbine shooters enjoyed watching Natural Born Killers. We have yet to determine if the Aurora shooter was inspired by the movie Batman.

There is no doubt that the realism of modern video games provides an excellent training model for engaging moving targets and figures that return fire. Retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has been a proponent for drawing attention to the risk of violent video games for a decade. I concur with his assessment that these games tend to desensitize game participants to real killing, as they attempt to achieve a high score trophy. A study conducted by Ohio State University, documented the increased aggression by those watching violent video games.  Michael Carneal, who was reading a book on a school shooting from Stephen King, had never fired a gun prior to descending upon a prayer group at school and killed three. His firearm proficiency was attained by countless hours of playing a commercial grade video arcade game of marksmanship.

Speaking of books, a number of mass murders were known to have found solace and strength from the book Catcher in the Rye, in which the main character, Holden Caulfield railed against the phonies of the world. The deep pocket lobbyists from Hollywood and the video game manufactures will utilize their rights under the First Amendment to protect their market base. Quentin Tarantino has recently defended the violence in his films claiming that violence dates to Shakespeare. My recall of history in 1600′s, does not include mass killings of school children. Tarantino was also the writer of Natural Born Killers. More on this later. Many of us will view violent movies and play violent video games without resorting to violence. For those that do not possess the coping skills or the mental stability to separate reality from fiction, these vehicles can be a catalyst for violence.

Mental Health

1.8 billion dollars was slashed from mental health budgets between 2009 and 2011. An already poorly funded mental health system has been ravaged by budget cuts. E. Fuller Torrey, the author of The Insanity Offense advocates that only 1% of the mentally ill are violent, which equate to around 40,000 people. This select group is responsible for half of all rampages. Most states prohibit gun ownership from those adjudicated mentally ill. That means a judge committed them. It does not prevent those from acquiring weapons that have mental health conditions or have been committed voluntarily or through law enforcement actions. Illinois requires a 5-year waiting period between mental health hospitalizations prior to purchasing a firearm. Illinois has one of the strongest positions in the country. The NIU school shooter, Steven Kazmierczak, waited the required 5 years before acquiring his handguns and the shotgun that he used in his rampage. The sharing by states of patients adjudicated mentally ill with the gun database is woeful.

The current commitment process can be traced back to the result of O’Conner v Donaldson. In 1975, The U.S. Supreme Court set the threshold for incarcerating the mentally ill based on whether they were a danger to themselves or others.  Essentially, are they homicidal or suicidal?  This was to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of mental health patients for years, despite posing no danger. This decision severely limits hospitalizing those in need of treatment. The current course is to conduct an initial assessment of dangerousness.  Due to limited bed space, staffing, budget and legalities; many patients are released within hours with a handful of pills and a referral to an outpatient clinic. It is what I refer to as the Pharmacology Cycle and leads to a revolving door for many suffering from mental illness. I have lost count of the individuals I interviewed who had multiple admissions for mental health ailments. I feel most sorry for the families, who are burdened with unimaginable hardships. The commitment process must be examined to help those that need treatment, as well as keeping the community safer.


I am gun neutral. Nothing I discuss here is meant to change any individuals mind. Gun control is one of several topics that will be discussed going forward. I own two weapons because they were tools of my trade. I have never been hunting and have no desire to return to the shooting range. The two polarized sides will never agree on terms. I personally do not see the need for a cache of weapons. I understand many have a keen interest in collecting weapons and associated sports. That being said, we would have to eliminate all weapon ownership to prevent murder by firearms and that will never happen. The previous assault weapons ban had minimal impact on the homicide rate and there were countless loopholes in the law. It sounded good in theory, but in reality was a failure. A six shot revolver with a speed loader can be an effective killing weapon. I know the discussion on high capacity magazines will probably result in mass killers carrying more magazines and reloading more frequently. Perhaps a few victims might be saved.

A gun ban did not prevent the Aurora shooter from rigging his apartment with explosives. The Columbine killers rigged the school to erupt into a fireball from propane bombs. Their devices failed to detonate and potentially saved the lives of 500 students in the cafeteria. Laws did not prevent a killing in Casper, Wyoming using a crossbow at a community college. He was perhaps the only person, who did not own a firearm in Wyoming. Gun laws would not have prevented a lunatic in China, from using a machete in attacking twenty-three children. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the victims will carry the visible scars for a lifetime. Four handguns were utilized in Dunblane, Scotland to kill 16 young grade school children in 1996. The UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Due to these restrictions, they have less than fifty homicides by gun each year. Chicago has surpassed its murder rate from last year with 436 murders, despite Illinois having one of the tougher gun laws. Lanza obtained his weapons from his mother, as did many of the school shooters.  I believe the guns laws should be examined and effective changes made. Record keeping should be computerized and streamlined. Background checks should be conducted at gun shows and Internet sales. Each side will invoke statistics and examples to strengthen their argument. The gun issue will be a vigorous debate in which agreement will never be achieved that satisfies both sides.


There are no easy answers in a complex situation. We cannot stand by and keep our fingers crossed that it will not happen again. Something similar will happen again.  We have made tremendous strides in mitigating these assassins. Workplace violence has decreased through a more vigilant human resources approach. The team integration of students, counselors, teachers and parents has prevented numerous potential school shootings. Despite our best efforts, we continually miss the warning signs until the postscript. How many more Aurora’s, Tucson’s and Newtown’s will occur. We all want the sound of children’s laughter to return to the playground and school.

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Rapport and the Need of Acceptance

FBI Special Agent George Piro interview of Iraq President Saddam Hussein was like many prisoners who had little incentive to cooperate. Over time, Piro developed rapport with the former dictator and war criminal. The FBI agent exploited Hussein’s exalted status and self-importance and developed a bond. Using this technique, Piro was able to slowly peel the layers of contempt and obtain his cooperation.

George Piro portrayed himself in a higher position of authority. One of the many techniques of strengthening the relationship was Hussein’s birthday. A former day of national celebration in Iraq was now another day on the calendar. There were no parades and no birthday party. Piro brought some Lebanese cookies baked by his mother to Hussein’s jail cell. This gesture demonstrated the level of rapport developed and cemented the trust between the two adversaries.

Dr. Steven Reiss, Emeritus Professor of Psychology of Ohio State University, proposed that there are sixteen basic human desires. Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on steroids. The desires were determined after a study of six thousand people. These desires represent intrinsic motivational values for people in business and social settings.

The desires are:

Acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, idealism, independence, individuality, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility and vengeance.

If you can incorporate some aspect of as many of these desires as possible with the subject of your interview, you will strike accord with their intrinsic motivations. If you look closely at the list, you can probably identify your inner desires on the list.

Dr. Reiss, in his groundbreaking research, identified acceptance as one of our sixteen basic motivational desires. We all desire to be accepted by others. If you establish rapport and make a connection with the subject of your interview, you have laid the foundation for success.

For more tips on increasing and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :

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Job Interviewing Skills and Challenges

A recent Wall Street Journal article, lamented at the lack of qualified applicants for job openings. More than 600,000 jobs openings in the manufacturing segment remained vacant in 2011, due to substandard skills. We are not talking about science, technology, engineering and math skills, known as STEM skills. We are talking about interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, and motivation. Oh yeah, being drug free helps as well.

In the Manpower Group’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, almost 20% of the employers complained of a lack of soft skills among applicants. As more of our communication is via electronic media, our interpersonal skills have softened. For young job applicants entering the work force, these skills may have never been developed. Email, Twitter and Facebook have embraced poor writing skills.  When the majority of your social interaction occurs via social media, our Face 2 Face skills become flaccid and under developed. Spell-check helps in your resumes and applications but not in one on one communication.

Employers complain of a lack of dedication and work ethic by the younger generation. I am sure each generation complains about the declining work ethic of each subsequent generation. Considering that 1 of every 16 people have experienced narcissistic personality disorder, it is not surprising that more applicants have a sense of entitlement.

A recent tweet by Ohio State third-string quarterback Cardale Jones illustrates both poor grammar and a sense of entitlement: ”Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS.,”  I am sure he regrets sharing his feelings, which went viral. It has become nearly impossible to retract our digital tail.  Our digital droppings are forever retrievable by future employers. It is incumbent upon us as parents and teachers to impart this wisdom on our youth.

Even a puppy dog knows not what it has not learned. Our schools must focus on the importance of writing and English skills in all subjects. As Professor Nalani Ambady has demonstrated on her studies of first impressions, they can be formed in less than two seconds. Our posture, gait, smile and handshake are so important. Maintain eye contact with your conversational partner. You want to remain genuine, but soften the hard edges that many of us possess.

Practice is important. Obtain style advice from any clothing store or find a mentor that has already succeeded. It is always better to overdress. Practice your entrance and obtain critical input. Do a little research on the company to demonstrate you keen interest. Take a dry run the day before to the interview location. This will assist you in identifying parking, judge the distance from home and visualize your entrance. Buy a watch, so that you can arrive fifteen to thirty minutes minutes early and de-stress. It demonstrates your interest and motivation. Separate yourself from the herd. Check Google for the most common interview questions and practice a response. Use a recorder and replay your response. After the interview, send a short email to the interviewer thanking them for the opportinity.

With 23 million unemployed or underemployed, you need all the help you can to separate yourself from the competition.

For more information on this subject, read Face 2 Face




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Caregivers and Doctor Rapport

I am again in the position of being a caregiver to a loved one. My wife is on the receiving end of my love and loyalty. We are through the worst and have blue skies in front of us. We have switched positions over the years, but we have always been there for each other. We provide physical and emotional support, while being advocates for the proper medical care.

We have been blessed to have found excellent physicians that are empathetic and dedicated to providing the best care possible to their patients. They take their time to listen and approach their care from a holistic point of view.

I know not all experiences are as good as the ones we have now. Recently my daughter was referred to a doctor. Let us just say that all the wheels of the bus came off during her two-hour visit. From her interaction with the office staff, to violating her privacy, to speaking poorly of another doctor, to losing records, and finally being grilled like a witness on cross-examination by the doctor. The shocker came when the physician was informed of the substandard care and realized his error. He called and spent twenty minutes apologizing, taking responsibility for the lack of professionalism, and asked for a second chance. Twenty minutes of his precious time! He earned my daughters business from the heartfelt genuine mea culpa.

The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study of emergency room medicine residents interacting with patients. A third never thought enough of their patients to provide their name. Once they asked the opening question of the patient concerning their complaint, only twenty percent of the patients were able to complete their dissertation of their problem without interruption. The doctors on average interrupted the patient at twelve seconds. Count to twelve and see how little information you can deliver in that span of time.

Wendy Levinson who was on the research team of the University of Pennsylvania recorded hundreds of interactions between physicians and their patients. She separated the doctors into two groups. One-half had never been sued. The other half had been sued at least twice. The doctors that were in the no lawsuit group, spent on average more than three minutes longer with their patients than the doctors in the group that had been sued two or more times. She noted they were good at active listening and used some degree of humor. In other words, they were likeable and their patients bonded and identified with them. The extra three minutes did not add content, but was rapport building and listening time.

So, how can a caregiver reduce their stress level as well as the patient? Come prepared. Prepare a medical chronology of all significant developments since the illness began or since the last visit. Bring copies of previous lab results and radiology reports from scans. Do not assume they were passed from the previous practitioner. Write down your questions. Keep them succinct and to the point. Doctors are under the gun to move to the next patient. You do not like sitting in the waiting room, so keep in mind, if you are prepared, you can expedite your visit and narrow the doctor’s focus. Most doctors will appreciate your organization. One time I brought a graph, color coded indicating the peaks and valleys of symptoms in relationship to medications. The doctor and his staff were impressed and could visualize my treatment plan.

In this hectic world of medical expediency, you must be your own advocate. Almost every doctor I have met, has always wanted to look out for the best interest of their patients. Keep in mind, they have hospital patients, clinic patients, and insurance red tape to unravel, and yes their own family obligations. They too, like you are trying to take care of their family.

For your own sanity and to preserve your strength, find a pinch hitter who can fill in for you. A friend of mine just filled in for her brother to go to Disney World for a couple of days.  A respite to the happy place on earth can do wonders to recharge the batteries of the caregiver. Even if it is just a few hours to enjoy a movie and dinner with a friend, you have earned those few hours.

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St. Patrick and the Irish Contribution

Many of the forty million Americans who trace their roots to Ireland, fail to recognize the impact of St. Patrick’s Day. The celebration of the patron saint of Ireland has become synonymous with just another excuse to engage in the excess of eating, drinking and partying. We loose site of the significance of the holiday.

Many are unaware that the patron saint of Ireland was not Irish at all. St. Patrick was born in 387, not in Ireland, but in Scotland. Born into a family of wealth and status, he was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and forced into servitude in Ireland. After six years as a slave, he evolved into a devout Christian and with the encouragement of an angel, he fled to Great Britain. He embarked on a fervent pursuit of Christian learning and entered the priesthood. Patrick earned such respect that Pope Celestine I, anointed him as a Bishop and entrusted him to unite Ireland.

Drawing on his previous experience in Ireland, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional rituals into his lessons of Christianity. The same bonfires the Druid Priests used to honor the gods, Patrick used to celebrate Easter. He created the Celtic cross by combining the pagan worshiped sun on the Christian cross. He utilized the three-leaf clover to demonstrate the Trinity.

The roots of the America embracing the holiday can be traced to the horrible Potato Famine in the mid 1840’s. The potato crop ravaged by disease provided the primary source of income and food. The Irish struggled for basic survival when their life’s foundation collapsed. They witnessed the devastation and death caused by the famine that was exacerbated by bureaucratic gridlock. One million desperate souls succumbed to the famine. Another million, made the difficult decision to flee their homeland. Transiting the Atlantic was an arduous journey on board the “Coffin Ships,” destined to New York City and other U.S. ports.

Once they arrived in New York, they faced discrimination and squalor conditions. Charles Dickens described his observations of the Five Points slums in American Notes, “Poverty, wretchedness, and vice are rife… reeking everywhere with dirt and filth.” The Irish immigrants were confronted with open hostility as employers displayed signs, “Irish Need Not Apply.” In many instances, African slaves were held in higher regard, because they were considered property, where as the Irish were deemed expendable.

The Irish soon began to realize that their great numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. Slowly they made inroads in political circles. The “Green Machine” became a respected voting block for political favors. Despite widespread corruption in politics, they continued to muscle their way into jobs of honor, working as police officers, firefighters, municipal workers, nurses, and domestics. They gained honor on the battlefields of the Civil War as respected warriors.

Today, we can honor twenty-two U.S. Presidents that attribute their ancestry to Ireland. Two of the most famous American Pioneers, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were of Irish descent. Irish-Americans, Henry Ford and Walt Disney became American Icons. The Irish always known for their “gift of gab” and imagination can count many noted authors, playwrights, and actors. Irish monks so adroitly preserved the written word of Western Civilization, with their illuminated texts such as the Book of Kells. The Lord of Dance and Riverdance perform their foot stomping Irish dancing in front of sold out audiences.  So before we lift the next Guinness or Jameson’s, reflect for just a moment to the contributions of the Irish to society and the significance of the holiday. Slainte!

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